July 27, 2016

Defining the Hippest U.S. Cities

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


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


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)
Music & Live Entertainment