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You’ll have noticed the beards. Young men sporting hairy things their grandfather would have been proud of. Hipsters they call themselves. 10 years ago their peer group would have laughed them out of the bar, but today you’re no one unless you are half cave man, half metro sexual. Being trendy is walking the fine line between the two.

The hipster values

So what can brands learn from this hipster movement? Should we be listening, altering our offering for a new consumer, or have we reached ‘peak beard’, a fad that’ll go away as soon as Gillette can figure out how to make beards uncool again.

The values that the hipster movement aspire to are essential for a modern brand to develop if it is to connect with the new millennial consumer.

They are individuals who want to be different from the system (read personalisation). They seek a unique experience from what they consume (read experience over quality post). They demand authenticity (read transparency). And above all they want to buy a story, a story that they can identify with, aspire to or share with others.

Eat from the street

Both the street food and craft beer movements are fantastic manifestations of hipster values.

Street Food is urban and edgy, young and unpredictable. Delicious unique offerings served often in a ‘shabby chic’ setting.  It gives two fingers to the system, the mass produced food of the hospitality industry. It produces to order, involves the consumer and creates an event around the entire path to purchase. Theatre is a huge part of the offering, both in production and consumption.

Street Food is the new rock n’ roll. In fact so much so that Universal Music have signed a deal with the British Street Food Association to get in on the act.

Be more authentic

The craft beer movement is the same. Consumers tired of the mass produced ‘same as everyone’ lager and ales now want something more unique. They seek out the new bars where they can sample the newest brews. They engage with brands that are hip and authentic, the packaging laden with irreverent messaging and a promise of something more genuine. This is what consumers want.

Should every brand no matter what its industry be listening? Of course. We already see the big brands building the hipster ethos into its next generation trial stores. McDonalds opened their first ‘corner’ store in Sydney offering avocado on sourdough, washed down with milk served in a jam jar.

The Food Court in the Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds is made up of several street food vehicles, surrounded by graffiti and corrugated iron. The food offerings change regularly as the vendors do, not a Burger King or KFC in sight. Even Tesco’s have got in on the act with their Burrito Kitchen concept.

Your brand needs to grow a beard

But forget about food and beer. What the beards are about is a new breed of consumer. A consumer that wants you to treat them as an individual. To surprise and delight them. To be more genuine, authentic and experiential than ever before. No matter what your brand, you need to get your head around this new consumer. Otherwise an irrelevant mass produced two dimensional future beckons.

You don’t have to grow a full beard, but you certainly should be working on your brand stubble!

A blog to  inspire and delight

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A blog to  inspire and delight