How Nancy Drew Made Me a Better Marketer

As a girl I discovered Nancy Drew, the young reader’s detective series by mystery writer Carolyn Keene. I was hooked on the mystery genre.

Next I graduated to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, then onto other mystery writers, preferring the British authors like Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, Ellis Peters, P.D. James and Elizabeth George, though she is an American, her mysteries are set in the U.K. and follow the traditions of the British greats.

My taste in movies and television followed a similar theme, preferring mysteries and police procedurals. I’ve often thought career-wise, I missed my true calling – to be a real-life detective. Yet as a market researcher, I’m just about the closest thing you can get to it, without having to deal with the blood, gore and guts of real detective work.

That’s because at its core, the detective’s and the marketer’s role share three critical perspectives:

  • Means, identify who has the means to do the crime or make the purchase;
  • Opportunity, discover who had the opportunity to commit the crime or need and inclination to make the purchase;
  • Motive, and most importantly, who has a reason to do the crime or make the buy.

As marketers, it’s our job to understand the customers and the best potential customers. That takes detective work which means we have to uncover who has the means, opportunity and motive to buy our goods and services.

Where to Find New Customers? Right here and their name is HENRY!

In study after study that I do with B2C marketers, finding new customers is their number one business need. Using my detective-inspired market research skills, these three perspectives guided discovery of the HENRYs – high-earners-not-rich-yet consumers – as the best new prospects for most any consumer-facing brands. Let me explain.

1) Who has the MEANS to buy or demographics – Understanding the demographics of your target market is the first step to understanding the consumer. Demographics describes the basic facts and figures that allow marketers to identify their best prospects. Age, gender and increasingly income demographics help us zoom in on who is most important for our success.

Today American businesses are stuck in a slow-growth mode, desperate to find new opportunities and new customers with both an appetite for their goods and services and a budget to afford them. That describes the HENRYs, a consumer segment that holds the key to the American consumer economy’s future.

The HENRYs are the mass affluent who think of themselves as ‘middle class,’ but with household incomes $100k-$249.9k, they are doing better than nearly 80% of all U.S. households. Yet they remain below the ultra-affluent income levels of the top 2-3%, on which the luxury brands traditionally focus.

There are about 27 million American HENRY households, less than 20% of the nation’s 125 million households. Yet they control some 40% of total U.S. consumer spending.

With the traditional mass-market shrinking, HENRYs are a growing, dynamic customer segment with discretion to spend for marketers at all price levels: low-end, mid-market and high-end/premium.

2) Who has the OPPORTUNITY to buy – Understanding the opportunity to buy involves studying their past purchase and shopping behavior. Past purchase behavior is often the best predictor of future purchase behavior, so studying your HENRY customers’ behavior is key, along with those target consumers who may not be part of your established customer base yet.

The story today of shopping and buying behavior is one of disruption, and HENRYs are leading the way. Case in point: Shopping malls are becoming the 21st-century version of ghost towns. It’s not because of the shift to internet shopping. Though online retail is growing far faster than traditional retail, it captures less than 10-15% of all consumer shopping.

Mall owners blame the loss of traffic on the closing of anchor stores, like Macy’s which just announced it will shutter 100 more flagship stores in 2017, but that isn’t it either.

The real reason behind the demise of malls is that shoppers have lost interest. Today, the sameness and ubiquity of the mall and big-box store experience is beginning to show fatigue. Walk through any of the nation’s 1,000 or so enclosed malls and you might notice they all look much the same. Filled with the same stores offering the same merchandise at the same ‘sale’ price, it’s too much of the same thing. HENRYs in particular are beginning to look for something new and different and finding it on Main Street not in the malls.

This emerging retailing trend will reshape the retail landscape over the next decade, fueled by the desire of the highest-potential and highest-spending HENRY customers’ passion for new shopping experiences. Specifically, demographic shifts, with both aging Baby Boomers and young Millennials looking for a more personal shopping experience, as well as heightened service expectations from affluent consumers, will favor small businesses, both online and brick-and-mortar stores, that can establish a close and personal relationship with their customers and deliver on their needs and service expectations.

As a result, growth at mass will slow down and profits will shrink. The next decade will see a great winnowing down, restructuring, and right sizing of mass-market retail, which will give an unprecedented opportunity to independent specialty retailers and online etailers offering new shopping experiences that capture the attention and imaginations of the high-potential HENRYs.

3) Who has the MOTIVE to buy – This is the psychographics or psychology of your customers and target customers. It explains why people buy, so that you can make sure through marketing efforts and shopping experiences that your offer meets their specific needs.

If retailers and marketers aim to draw more HENRY affluents, with their significantly greater spending power over middle-income consumers, they need to combine strategies borrowed from high-end brands, along with more mass-market tactics to send a clear message that these high-potential customers are understood, respected and catered to.

Specifically, mass-marketing strategies must focus on value, so that the HENRYs see they get a greater return on their spending investment. Meanwhile, the luxury-focused strategies are directed to delivering high quality goods and services, including careful attention to superior materials and workmanship, and making customers feel pride of ownership for the items bought, as well as pride of belonging to the cadre of shoppers that are smart and in the know.

Ultimately, success in marketing to HENRYs is less about WHAT you sell and more about HOW you sell it. That means, getting to the why HENRYs buy your brand, product or service for future marketing success.

Think like a detective to be a better marketer

Today the darling of the detective genre is the criminal profiler, like Val McDermid’s Dr. Tony Hill character from Wire in the Blood, BBC’s Cracker, CBS’s Criminal Minds and NBC’s The Blacklist. Profilers use a study of the crime to identify the criminal, including the perpetrator’s demographics, behavior and emotional makeup and personal motivations.

As marketers our work is remarkably similar. We use detective skills to profile our ideal consumer, using means, opportunity and motive as our guide.

It is this detective-inspired market research approach that leads me to ID the HENRYs as your best and brightest target customer for the future.

Help for companies looking for new customers

Unity Marketing has the data and consumer insights needed to plot a successful course to capture the imaginat ions and huge spending potential of the HENRYs. Young HENRYs, in particular, have an acquisitive appetite for goods and services that enhance their lifestyle and reflect their value system.

Here’s what you need to market effectively to HENRYs:

  • What Do HENRYs Want?- This mini-book is a great introduction to HENRYs and why they are important for every marketer.
  • Meet the HENRYs- A detailed report describing the HENRY demographics, purchase and shopping behavior and consumer psychology. It reveals the data and insights needed to plot a strategy to connect with the HENRYs and capture their spending potential.
    Brand Stories that Sell to HENRYs – A report that examines the new disruptive brands that have successfully made HENRYs their target. They do that by telling new stories of luxury and value that resonate with these customers. Brands like Shinola, Warby Parker, Apple, FitBit, Everlane, Suitsupply, Canada Goose, Toms and many others, have discovered how to deliver a meaningful experience to a new generation of affluents. This study will show you how to do it too.

Or order our specially-priced package combining all three resources and get started marketing to HENRYs on the road to affluence.

Order HENRY Package
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