Leave it to the magical art of science to prove something we already know: hipsters consistently claim they aren't hipsters. A recent study due out in theJournal of Consumer Research
titled "Demythologizing Consumption Practices: How Consumers Protect Their Field-Dependent Identity Investments from Devaluing Marketplace Myths" proves once and for all that the category of consumer referred to as "hipster" often rejects and hates the term "hipster."
Take a peek at this quote from the summation in Science Daily:
The authors investigated the category of "hipster," which has gained attention from the mass media in recent years. "This iconic category has evolved from its countercultural roots, originally aligned with beat sensibilities, to a trend-seeking über-consumer of the 2000s," the authors write. They analyze the hipster icon and note how it has become a trivializing label for indie consumption practices.
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Just so we're all on the same page here, the definition of a hipster we're working with is: one who consumes independent products before everyone else. However, the people that practice such rituals vehemently claim that they don't fit inside that label, because once the label is attached to someone, the mystique is lost. Are you still with us here?
The reason hipsters reject the term is because science has proven the term "hipster" is now nothing more than a marketing label, and all the Gen Y kids wearing ironic clothing and rocking fancy new iPods have been hoodwinked by some advertising executive. You are nothing more than a target market, a sexy and well-contained social category that has lots of money to spend. It didn't come to this point overnight of course; it was a long and grueling road.
The study shows something else we already knew, because of hipster writer-cum-sociologist Malcolm Gladwell -- a tipping point is reached when the cultural subset becomes cliché and members of those subsets reject the commercialization of their culture by claiming not to be part of that culture (example: hipsters hate hipsters). Once the tipping point for hipsters had been reached, the term suddenly referred to followers rather than trendsetters. Marketing changed the meaning of the word. Like Kleenex and Band-aids, hipster is just a fancy term for a product.
So what's the moral of the story? Advertisers can't sell shit to hipsters using the word hipster anymore, because nobody hates hipsters as much as hipsters. They're going to need to come up with new words to market skin-tight jeans, flamboyant caps and silk- screened shoulder bags. Anyone have suggestions?