Do you ever wonder what defines a hipster or where they gather?

We are all familiar with the mustache, thick-framed glasses, outrageously expensive coffee and the skinny jeans/plaid shirt combo. True hipsters, however, identify themselves not only by a certain look but also by a set of ideals. According to UrbanDictionary.com, hipsters are mainly men and women in their 20s and 30s who dislike anything ‘mainstream,’ have progressive political ideas and enjoy indie rock and art.

Whether you are intrigued by this subculture or would like to avoid it altogether, you need to know the cities where hipsters gather. And as we should all recognize, there’s more to hipsters than just the look. They are a group that frequents certain types of businesses, and whose communities share particular characteristics.

From the perspective of a marketer or business owner, there is a competitive advantage to leverage when you know where your target market lives and the main characteristics and interests of their community.

Infogroup, the leading provider of innovative marketing and data solutions, found which U.S. metros are more “hip” than others using its verified business database of more than 15 million records. The business data identified the metro areas which most closely identified with businesses providing products and services that appealed to hipsters.

The types of businesses targeted as being closely related to “hipster” culture were microbreweries (manufacturers), records/tapes/CD (retail), music dealers, coffee shops (non-chains only), beer & ale (retail), thrift shops, bicycle dealers, tattoo parlors, and music and live entertainment.

After compiling these factors, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with a population of 1 million or more in the United States were ranked by their concentration of hipster businesses per 10,000 residents.

Top 10 Most Hipster U.S. Metro Areas

Types of Businesses Within the Top 10 Hipster Metros

A wide variety of business types attract the modern hipster.  It's not surprising that in Seattle, the brithplace of Starbucks, coffee shops are the dominant business even when chains and franchises are excluded. Coffee shops make up 38 percent of the businesses of interest and are likely the main reason that Seattle is pushed to the top of this list. While a similar result holds for Portland (#2) and San Francisco (#9), the other cities display different characteristics that put them on the hipster map.

In Denver (#3) and San Diego (#6), there is a fairly even mix of microbrewers, coffee shops, thrift shops, tattoo parlors, bicycle dealers and music and live entertainment. Thrift shops dominate the landscapes of Sacramento (#4) and Grand Rapids (#5) with over 30 percent of the counted businesses. In Providence (#7) or Rochester (#10), it would not be unusual to walk past more than one tattoo parlor in a short time span (about 23 percent of the businesses of interest in each metro). Pittsburgh (#8) actually has three dominant categories: thrift shops, coffee shops, and tattoo parlors are all close to 20 percent.

Industry Breakout Within Each of the Top 10 U.S Metros of 1 Million or More in Population


#1 - Seattle, Washington:

Where there is great coffee (and lots of it), there are hipsters. By crunching the numbers, we could see that 38 percent of the hipster-related businesses in Seattle are single-location coffee shops. While these people take their coffee seriously, a good caffeine fix is no all Seattle is known for. Other hip businesses follow with thrift shops at 14 percent, tattoo parlors at 12 percent, and microbreweries at 10 percent. Overall, the number of businesses in this city shows that Seattle is like no other, offering an array of restaurants, cafes, bike shops and plenty of other options for every hipster in the city.

#2 - Portland, Oregon:

Coming in second place is Portland, a city that cannot deny its hipster soul. Take a walk on its streets and you’ll find the full spectrum, from the “classic hipster” to the “bartender hipster,” or the “writer hipster.” This is also a city where they love their coffee. The numbers tell us that 29 percent of the hipster-related businesses in this city are single-location coffee shops. And while they can’t claim the title Starbucks birthplace, Portland shows that it has a lot to offer. Sixteen percent of businesses within the criteria are tattoo parlors and 14 percent are microbreweries. When you include the popular farmers markets and gourmet food carts, it is no wonder that everyone in Portland is a little bit hip.

#3 - Denver, Colorado:

As the tech sector grew in Denver, young and hip people relocated and made Denver a more thriving city. Add tattoo parlors, making up 19 percent of the hipster-related businesses, microbreweries (16 percent), coffee shops (16 percent), and thrift shops (16 percent) to the mix and you have a large community of hipsters and hipsters-to-be. Up-and-coming neighborhoods like LoHi (Lower Highlands) offer plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from and show how social Denver locals really are.

#4 - Sacramento, California:

There are plenty of characteristics that position this city in fourth place on our hip cities list. Considered “the new Oakland,” Sacramento has been recognized for its growing food and coffee scene, as well as its nearby nature destinations. By looking at the numbers, we can also see that a large number of businesses of interest in this city are thrift shops (more than 30 percent), followed by coffee shops (16 percent) and tattoo parlors (15 percent). Sacramento is a great city that is not yet perceived as “too mainstream” and where regular hipsters can feel at home and pay less in rent than their San Francisco friends.

#5 - Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Making the top five, Grand Rapids proves it’s as hipster as your finest cold-brew coffee. Among businesses of interest in this city, thrift shops rank very high (30 percent), followed by coffee shops (15 percent) and tattoo parlors (14 percent). This city is also known for its famous summer downtown art gallery and farmers market. And if hipsters are looking for another reason to relocate, then they can add “best beer scene” to the city's list oh honors, according to USA Today. All in all, this great city seems to be attracting more and more hipsters every season.

#6 - San Diego, California:

Nicknamed “America’s Finest City,” San Diego is the eighth largest city in the U.S. and second largest in California. Looking at the pre-determined hipster businesses, we see that the city's main hipster-related businesses are thrift stores (19 percent), tattoo parlors (17 percent), coffee shops (16 percent), music and entertainment (15 percent), bicycle dealers (13 percent), and microbreweries (12 percent). Also, out of the top 10 hipster cities, San Diego has the most music and live entertainment venues.

#7 - Providence, Rhode Island:

Providence, also known as the “Divine City”, comes in seventh place on our hip cities. It is no wonder that this city has a hipster vibe as tattoo parlors make up 24 percent of all business of interest. Music and live entertainment and coffee shops each account for 19 percent. As the home of Brown University, Providence attracts students from around the country who are looking to get an Ivy League education while fueling their hipster soul -- think Pulitzer Prize winning writers at the cafeteria's Meatless Mondays. The numbers also show that thrift shops make up 13 percent of hipster-related businesses and bicycle dealers 9 percent. In this case, school is very cool.

#8 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

As the twentieth largest city in the U.S., Pittsburgh has an affinity towards thrift stores (22 percent), coffee shops (19 percent), tattoo parlors (18 percent), as well as music and live entertainment (14 percent). To entertain its hipster crowd, Pittsburgh is also home to the ReplayFX Arcade & Video Game Festival, which features “the largest public collection of working pinball, arcade, tabletop, and console games anywhere in the solar system.”

#9 - San Francisco, California:

As home to the Beat Generation and the hippie movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s, San Francisco has deeply hip roots. Today, San Francisco appeals to the modern hipster with single-location coffee shops making up 28 percent of all businesses of interest. Thrift stores (16 percent), bicycle dealers (16 percent) and tattoo parlors (12 percent) make up the rest. Also, compared to all other hipster cities, San Francisco has the most record, tape and CD stores as well as bicycle dealers. If you need more proof, take a stroll through places like the Haight, where we’re all reminded that San Francisco will never stop being hip.

#10 - Rochester, New York:

Ending the list of top hip cities in the U.S. is Rochester. The small-city vibe attracts young and hip people seeking affordable housing and the opportunity to live out their hipster lifestyles without paying the prices of the Big Apple. Hipster-related businesses are led by tattoo parlors (22 percent), music and live entertainment (20 percent), thrift stores (15 percent) and coffee shops (14 percent). An evolving hipster-hood, this city is musical in nature with the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music regarded as one of the best in the country and its Eastman Theatre ranked as one of the finest concert halls in America. In addition, its Sibley Music Library has the largest collection of sheet music in the world. Where there is good music, you are bound to find hipsters.

Top 10 Hipster U.S. Metro Areas

The study was restricted to metro areas of 1 million or more in population

Rank Metro Area Population Businesses per 10,000 Residents
1 Seattle, WA 3,671,478 3.55
2 Portland, OR 2,348,247 3.41
3 Denver, CO 2,754,258 2.59
4 Sacramento, CA 2,244,397 2.58
5 Grand Rapids, MI 1,027,703 2.51
6 San Diego, CA 3,263,431 2.45
7 Providence, RI 1,609,367 2.43
8 Pittsburgh, PA 2,355,968 2.42
9 San Francisco, CA 4,594,060 2.32
10 Rochester, NY 1,083,393 2.30

Honorable Mentions:

Metro areas of 1 million or more in population ranked #11-20:

Rank Metro Area Population Businesses per 10,000 Residents
11 Jacksonville, FL 1,419,127 2.28
12 Tucson, AZ 1,004,516 2.19
13 Nashville, TN 1,792,646 2.18
14 New Orleans, LA 1,251,849 2.12
15 Tampa, FL 2,915,582 2.11
16 Miami, FL 5,929,819 2.09
17 Boston, MA 4,732,161 2.08
18 Milwaukee, WI 1,572,245 2.06
19 Philadelphia, PA 6,051,170 2.01
20 Columbus, OH 1,994,536 1.99

Appendix

Definition of MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area)

To get a definition of an MSA, we turned to the U.S. Census Bureau, which defines a MSA as a Core Based Statistical Area associated with at least one urban cluster that has a population of at least 50,000. According to their website, this Metropolitan Statistical Area comprises the Central County or counties containing the core, plus adjacent outlying counties having a high degree of social and economic integration with the urban core.

About Infogroup

Infogroup is a big data, analytics and marketing services provider that delivers best in class data-driven customer-centric technology solutions. Our data and software-as-a-service (DaaS & SaaS) offerings help clients of all sizes, from small companies to FORTUNE 100™ enterprises, increase their sales and customer loyalty. Infogroup provides both digital and traditional marketing channel expertise that is enhanced by access to our proprietary data on 245 million individuals and 25 million businesses, which is distributed real-time to our clients. For more information on Infogroup's marketing and dautions, vista solit www.infogroup.com.

Industries Included in the Study

Industry Description
Brewers (Manufacturers)
Records Tapes & CDs (Retail)
Music Dealers
Coffee Shops
Beer & Ale (Retail)
Thrift Shops
Bicycles (Dealers)
Tattooing
Music & Live Entertainment