If you’ve looked around the your favorite department store in the past couple seasons and felt like everything there, from itty bitty micro bags to toy-like bag charms, was designed for kids, there’s a good reason for it: luxury brands are looking to younger consumers with lower incomes to bolster sales.

Brands are worried that retail sales aren’t growing, so they’re being forced to look outside the bounds of their traditional customers, who are older and higher-earning than the new consumer class of HENRYs (High Earning Not Rich Yet) they hope to grow, who are under the age of 44, according to Luxury Daily, and make between $100,000 and $250,000 as a household. They’re only 18% of consumers, but they make up 40% off mass market spending.

Changing or broadening their consumer bases means that luxury brands need to adjust what kinds of products they offer, naturally. “Under 44” is a demographic group that includes a lot of young professionals with no kids, and they’re more likely to want products that might seem silly or impractical to an older consumer with a more traditional family life and a more classical idea of what a product needs to be in order to be luxurious. That’s even more true for accessories; lower-earning consumers are more likely to see a high-end bag or pair of shoes as a reasonable splurge than an evening gown.

We’re all getting older, of course, and luxury brands are betting that some of the current-day HENRYs will turn into the ultra-affluent consumers who have been their bread and butter all along; that makes the fight to earn shoppers’ loyalty while they’re young even more high-stakes. So the next time you see a bag that baffles you, remember: brands are playing the long game.

[The Les Petits Joueurs bag above is available via Shopbop for $865.]

Pretty In Pink

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