The Hipster: Volume 8

Sam this is the first post that you’ve called “The Hipster,” how can it be “Volume 8?”

There’s nothing new about “the hipster.”

While my use of the phrase may conjure up the image of a pretentious 25 year old dressed in a huge chambray shirt, tight jeans that are cuffed four inches above the top of his brogues, and an undercut that looks like an unfortunate accident, ten years ago, this image would be unrecognizable.

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Yeah, those guys.

But what ever happened to the days of the hipsters with black skinny jeans, big zipped sweatshirts, neon shoes, and old trucker caps?

“They’ve just changed with the times,” you might respond. Damn right they have.

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But I’m going to go a step further. The hipster is nothing new, because every generation has its own hipster.

  • The early 2000s had their “Emos” and “Goths”
  • The 1990s had “Grunge”
  • The ‘80s had “New Romantics” and “Punk”
  • The ‘70s had the “Freaks”
  • The ‘60s had the “Hippies”
  • The 1950s had their “Rebels” and “Beatniks”
  • The ‘40s had “Avant-garde” and… ”Hipsters” (told you it’s nothing new)

 

This is quite an argument, I know. But what connects all of these groups?

  1. A subversion of current modes of thought and outlooks on art, music, fashion, etc.
  2. That subversion went on to pretty directly influence mainstream culture.
  3. That shift in mainstream culture was then responded to by yet another subversive subculture. And repeat.

Ok, so what do these fairly large blanket statements have to do with marketing?

Every generation has its hipster. They are incredibly hard to distinguish in the moment (though, after the fact, they become some of the most iconic stereotypes of the era), and it’s even harder to market to them. But, if you can find them and you’re able to figure out a way to connect with them, you’re a step ahead of the mainstream cultural shifts coming your way.

Why? Because these are the innovators.

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Now, I don’t mean that they’re the techies attending the Apple news conferences to get a first glimpse at the new iPhone. Rather, they’re the cultural innovators. The shifts that they will create in mainstream culture will require you to change the way you interact with your consumers and express your brand and its message. They’ll lead to changes in the style of your advertisements, your products, and your messaging strategies.

Studying the trends of these “hipster” subcultures is a strong step towards keeping a brand edgy, fresh, and desirable. While this may not be suitable for every brand, these kinds of trends are important to understand and monitor in order to keep your brand from falling behind and out of the consumers’ minds.

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