They’re Cooler than You and They Have Money to Spend

With every new generation comes a new sense of identity, new ideas on what defines cool and, for marketers, new headaches. How do we sell to kids? What do we say to actually get their attention? Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few years you have probably seen today’s version of cool walking around in skinny jeans and wool caps, going out of their way to ensure that everyone knows that they do not care about mainstream society or its interests.

In general the new counter-culture that most “kids these days” seem to be joining are called hipsters. Just like past generations did, these adolescents and young adults claim to have no bond with traditional society and exist solely on independent thought (and of course their parents’ money). That appearance of apathy makes some people shudder at finding an effective marketing strategy to target this demographic. But it shouldn’t.

In essence this group is just like any other consumer group in society. While they might just now be gaining in numbers in the Tampa Bay area, their “movement” has realistically been around for a solid decade around the country. There is an argument to be made that this trend is nearing its end and a new one will be here soon enough, but in reality it will be here for a few more years, and you want to keep your sales up in between now and what’s next. Don’t underestimate this market; it might be entrenched in upper middle-class kids who love indie rock, but if you look around you can see its influence on neighboring youth markets like hip-hop and even the prep. Considering the staggering number of kids walking around wearing 70’s style mustaches and plastic neon sunglasses, and the fact that their trends cross over, you should consider their interests and use them as a basis for your marketing efforts.

So what do hipster like?

  • Natural Food– Yes this trend is big in general but huge with hipsters. They like organic foods: this means naturally raised meat and locally grown vegetables.
      • If you put together campaigns for restaurants you may be surprised how well mentioning actually natural ingredients works. Highlight local purchases and environmentally-friendly food processes.
      • Try focusing on health conscious offerings as opposed to redressing existing items with newly sourced ingredients.
  • Vintage
    • Clothing– Arguably hipsters choose clothing by mixing every subculture that popped up between, say, greasers in the 50’s and new wave kids in the 80’s. While many do appear to shop at thrift stores, they all do not. American Apparel would not be what it is and skinny jeans would likely be an afterthought without these kids.
    • Neighborhoods– While a hipster might live anywhere you generally see them grouped in older districts. In our area try Seminole Heights and downtown St. Pete. While rent is definitely a factor here, they also seem to be progressing towards non-modern housing for its aesthetics.
      • The vintage trend is strong with hipsters. Design marketing materials with this in mind (just ask someone in the creative department if you are confused. You can probably find some actual hipsters there.)
      • Put together a promotion that is based on something 80’s and fun, but keep it somewhat authentic. You do not want to disrupt their sense of originality.
  • Technology- As much as they love older fashions and houses, when it comes to technology they like the newest available products. They are involved in all forms of social media from blogs to Foursquare. This makes them a useful consumer group in terms of gathering feedback from first adopters. They will buy new tablet PC’s and cell phones then tell you how they feel right away on blogging forums.
      • Listen to their concerns-as you should all of your customers- and you will benefit right away. They will tell you what the problems are and what features they would like to see on future products. Address the concerns in future advertising materials.
  • Themselves- Hipster feel as if they exist separately from society and strive to stick to their own. While this is nothing new with subcultures it lets us know as marketers and communicators that we might need to engage them differently in order to get the point across.
      • Advertise in local publications that are distributed for free, such as Creative Loafing.
      • Look into advertising at or sponsoring live shows. Contact the cozier local venues about opportunities.

These are the basics, but the options for reaching out to kids are limitless. Has your company successfully reached out to kids with an innovative strategy or creative campaign? If you’d like to share your approach, comment below or write us a guest blog! You’ll be featured right here on the AMA blog site. Email guest blogs to [email protected]


Business Week
The Hipster Handbook
Guarvanomics Blog

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