Meet the HENRYs: A hybrid focus group study of conspicuous luxury consumption in the social media context
Authors: Kennedy, G. and Bolat, E.
Start date: 3 July 2017
Social media has created different dimension of consumers for luxury products, specifically the aspirational consumer who wishes to own a product, but for economic reasons cannot. In other words aspirational consumers use luxury brands to create value for themselves using social media to conspicuously consume without purchase. Aspirational consumers are mostly found among HENRYs (high earners, not rich yet). Studies around conspicuous consumption of luxury products as a result of digital technology influence are fragmented. However, in-depth understanding of HENRYs’ consumer behaviour in the pre-experience (before actual purchase) stage is important. Using hybrid of online and face-to-face focus group data, this study maps HENRYs’ consumer journeys that reflects the role of social media in conspicuous consumption of luxury brands. We found that most of HENRYs purchase luxury for status and in the context of social media it becomes even more rationale to demonstrate own luxury possessions via creating own social media content - most HENRYs are narcissist. Social media represents an immediate environment of luxury conspicuous consumption where HENRYs are aspired to purchase luxury by mostly user-generated content and are driven to produce own social media content as evidence of luxury purchasing and possessions – to satisfy own narcissistic ambitions.