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Hipster marketing: Motivation, autonomy & authenticity

How to target hipsters?

Hipster marketing: motivation, autonomy & authenticity

You know them: those twenty-something’s with a checked shirt, black framed glasses and an impeccably groomed moustache. Maybe you regularly sit with them with your MacBook Pro in the local coffee shop known for its homemade organic brownies. But you’re not a hipster, right?

Being a hipster is a paradox: It is a subculture that originated as a movement opposed to the consumer society. An opposite of the ‘herd’ of willing consumers. So individualistic that he or she doesn’t want even to be a part of the hipster-flock.
Nowadays it even seems popular to be an anti-hipster, and the general public calls them pedantic or arrogant. The ‘true hipsters’ will agree with this description while shaking their heads, because they know these sell-outs go for the superficial hipster appearance without any feeling for the underlying core values.

The hipster as a target group

However, the marketing industry noticed a long time ago that true hipsters are an interesting target group. They are often well educated people in a specific age group with a job and without a family – resulting in a relatively high, free disposable income. In addition, it is a group that goes for quality over quantity and who don’t mind spending more money to achieve this. All too gladly one tries to foist locally produced products, authentic vintage clothing and seemingly unknown street food festivals on them.

And here is the crunch. By making the hipster as prominent as a target group they are faced with their own consumerism, and that was not the intention.

So how do you target a target group that doesn’t want to be one?

The right motivation

First, it is wise not to aim too strongly at the stereotype as hipsters do not identify themselves as such, so they are not identifying themselves with the appearance of the group.

Also, offering huge discounts or displaying your company brand too prominently is counter-productive. The hipster doesn’t want a quick score, but rather a unique product of high quality.

Because traditional advertising pitches don’t work, it is important to motivate this target group in a different way.

You need to realize that there are two different kinds of motivation: extrinsically and intrinsically. Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside. In marketing terms you can think of reward in the form of price actions. However, intrinsic motivation comes from within and is related to perception and emotion. This second variant of motivation plays a key role in achieving sustainable customer loyalty.


Two aspects with which you can intrinsically motivate them are values and autonomy. Although for a hipster audience these two keywords are extremely important, increasingly this also applies to all consumers.


  • What values constitute a driving force for your target group? Communicate how your company or brand connects with those values.
  • For a hipster-target group, these values can be in terms of originality, sustainability and authenticity.


Not only hipsters love autonomy. Everyone has an innate urge for independence. No one wants to have choices forced upon them, and certainly not by a marketer. By letting the consumer be in control, or at least give him the feeling of being in control, they will have a much more positive feeling about their interaction or transaction with your company.

  • Communicate openly and honestly
  • Communicate on a personal level where you act as a partner to the consumer
  • Make sure that the customer always has several options to choose from

By using and maintaining values and autonomy, you build a trust with your hipster audience, and this is also certainly true for other target groups. It is a long-term strategy that perhaps takes a bit more effort, but one which you can be certain will build a stable and committed customer base.


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