Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

5 Obscure Ways to Market to Hipsters That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

I would define what a hipster is, but that would just make them mad. Basically, they’re 20- and 30-somethings who reject mainstream culture, because it’s mainstream which creates a subculture that has become trendy which, by definition, is mainstream.

So there’s that.

They’re an appealing demographic and often characterized as one with deep pockets, so playing to their interests can be a solid business move. But you have to be careful, because if they think they’re being pandered to, they’ll drop you like Fun. after “We Are Young” was on Glee.

Here are some promotional products that are likely to appeal to the hipster crowd, since they’re pretty obscure, and you’ve probably never heard of them.

The imprint for this product is on the side, which means you won’t lose any brand awareness when they pop the lenses out.

Rubberized Sunglasses

The customized rubberized sunglasses speak directly to hipsters. After all, when they’re riding their unicycle to get their midafternoon latte from a truck behind the thrift store, they won’t want to ruin their penciled-in eyebrows by squinting into the sun. The bright colors in the imprinted sunglasses may even match the streaks in their hair – double bonus! With a variety of colors, several people in a single circle of friends can wear different colors, so they’re not accused of following the crowd. Late afternoons chilling outside the bike repair shop will provide another round of brand impressions as people coming home from their actual jobs walk past.

I’m totally going to get Wes Anderson to sign my bag.

Valore Messenger Bag

Nothing says rejection of mainstream culture like toting around your vinyl in an imprinted messenger bag. With a large imprint area, this daily use item will give everyone at the Arcade Fire concert a brand impression. Perfectly sized to carry all the essentials including mustache wax, rolled up skinny jeans, shutter shades, and a Jack Kerouac novel, the customized Valore messenger bag is an antiestablishment essential. Remind them that the durable messenger bag means that they won’t need to use wasteful plastic to bring home produce from the farmer’s market.

Whoooooo read the new specs on the iPad 4?

Owl Stress Reliever

When the shipment of the latest Bright Eyes album is delayed at the local record store, hipsters can squeeze away their worries with a personalized owl stress ball. With a generous imprint area that allows for plenty of room for a logo and contact information, the custom owl stress reliever helps them relax when there’s no PBR to be found. They also make pretty good hacky sack substitutes and are great companions for taking ironic photos in front of a Hooters. Move over, photobombs – owl invasions are going to be the next big thing in annoying strangers!

Really works with the ski hat and knitted scarf in 86 degree weather to frame ironic facial hair.

V-Neck Shirts

Something about personalized V-Neck shirts appeal to hipsters. Maybe it’s because it’s the 21st most commonly used letter which is pretty underground. Pair the customized V-neck shirts with distressed artwork or nebula pattern to complete the thrift store chic ensemble. For local indie bands (that haven’t sold out to Big Media yet), the V-neck shirts are perfect for fundraising, tour dates, and creating a line of limited edition collector’s tees that will have hipsters salivating. They’re great for layering over/under floral-patterned tank tops and hand-knitted shrugs and don’t interfere with stylish neckerchiefs.

Benches are too mainstream.

Plaid Blanket

When hipsters need to give their TOMS-clad feet a rest, they can set up an impromptu picnic in the middle of a park. The plaid pattern will be a beacon to others nearby that grilled tofu and tater tots are on the menu. As they relax with a post-meal Native Spirit, your embroidered logo on the custom picnic blanket will make a serene brand impression. They’ll watch the sunset as they quote Ginsburg and talk about all the freelance graphic designing they’re doing on their brand new MacBooks, all while providing your logo a front row seat.

If you’d love to snag hipsters in the wild, make sure you’re baiting your marketing trap with the most delectable promotional products to attract their interest. They’ll be dying to upload pictures taken with Instragram of their new swag to their Tumblr and be the first to tell their friends, “Yeah, I liked this company before they were cool.”

Are hipsters part of your target demographic? How do you market to an audience that rejects the very notion of being marketed to? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Eric

    These product descriptions are hilarious, Jana. Nothing frames one’s face better than a pair of rubberized, wayfarer-style sunglasses. Not even muttonchops.

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    Excellent. I read this article before it was cool. 😉

    Also, I’d be pretty stoked to get one of those messenger bags or picnic blankets. I’m not sure if that makes me a full-blown hipster, but I like them.

  3. Amy Swanson

    From the few hipsters that I’ve seen (apparently we don’t “hang” in the same places- shocking), I think these promo products are perfect for attracting them to your company. Using the owl stress reliever as a makeshift hacky sack had me chuckling, spot on Jana! Well done!

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