A Connected Bohemian Rhapsody

From Jack Kerouac and Stevie Nicks to bell-bottoms and Burning Man, being ‘bohemian’ has always been associated with going against the grain, earthiness, and frankly, a little bit of flake-factor. But for today’s multifamily movers and shakers in urbanesque markets, no segment is as desirable or reliable as this freewheeling archetype’s contemporary cousin. Meet the Connected Bohemian.

But First, The Back Story.

Let’s start with the Connected Bohemian name. The bohemian part is, well, complicated. With roots that date to the 1800s, the term referred to a group of nomadic Parisian nonconformists who ate, lived, and breathed art, music, and the counter-culture. As times changed, these free spirits evolved into the artists and poets that put New York City’s East Village, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, and LA’s Laurel Canyon on the map as prototypical urban enclaves for the American creative class. The connected part of the name is simpler: it’s called WiFi. Thanks to digital transformation and the emergence of smart devices and social media platforms, contemporary bohemians are freer than ever to flock away from cubicle farms and the nation’s coasts to, well, wherever they damn well want to flock. And because they bring their purchasing power, talent, and cool-factor with them wherever they wander, smaller cities (see: Tulsa, Oklahoma) are even openly courting them. 

Why This Segment Matters.

Connected bohemians are a coveted multifamily segment because they’re quintessentially allergic to mortgages. Sure, they’ve changed with time and technology, but they’re still just not buying after 200 years of the rent vs. own debate. Whether it’s the bohemians in Puccini’s 1896 masterpiece La Boheme, the proto-hipsters in Jonathan Larsen’s 1996 Pulitzer Prize-winning production of Rent, or Issa Rae’s character on HBO’s Insecure: They aren’t big on playing by conventional rules. 

They’re not the hippy-dippy types of yore. Connected Bohemians are typically urbanites experiencing midlife success who are acutely in tune with all things tech. They’re also highly entrepreneurial and embracing of the “slash.” You might know a few of them: Indie artists/writers/producers doing studio-quality work from their perch at a corner coffee shop. Makers of small-batch artisanal goods harnessing e-commerce platforms like Shopify to go wide. Thrift store hunters spinning their upcycled wares into Etsy gold. Remote knowledge workers and creative types who just need a bulletproof coffee and a strong wi-fi connection to do their thing. Their vibe unapologetically encompasses both blockchain and Beyonce.

They’re also influential. Connected Bohemians collect experiences. Think of them as the earliest adopters ever. They’re among the first to check out the latest movies, visit the newest coffee shop, or try out new technology and set lifestyle trends on everything from food to fitness to fashion. If they like what you’re doing and recommend you to their networks? Their networks will likely listen to them. They’re equity-minded, eco-friendly, shop locally, and support the little guy. When it comes to consumption, they’re more about craft brews and food trucks than fine wines and white tablecloths, especially since the pandemic

They practically invented work-from-anywhere. Stuck in one location? Not Connected Bohemians. This is where they really lean into the boho tradition. An Upwork study suggests that an estimated 22% of the workforce will be working from home by 2025. Connected Bohemians are members of the demographic most likely to continue working from wherever they want to after COVID ends, just as they’ve been doing so for centuries. Entice them, and then keep them happy at your multifamily property and even when they move on to greener pastures or the next gig, you’ll have a friend of your brand for life.

Three Keys for Connecting With These Free-Spirits

Here are some of our tried-and-true strategies for multifamily marketers and real estate developers who need to entice this highly desirable segment.

1.  Strive for seamlessness.

Make it easy for Connected Bohemian prospects to tour your property from anywhere using features like QR codes linked to 3D tours optimized for every device imaginable. Once they move in, make it easy for them to be themselves. Free spirits appreciate conveniences like Amazon package delivery lockers, dog walking services, and access to workspaces for the occasional conference call or podcast interview. And even though nobody’s still saying anything as played out as “On Fleek” anymore, today’s Connected Bohemians are more apt to be on than off said fleek. Be sure to support their dapper ways with things like onsite dry cleaning pick-up/delivery services and preferred customer relationships with local tailors and boutiques.

2. Make it a living experience, not just a rental.

Far from being rootless or lone wolves, Connected Bohemians are inherently social. (Hello, Woodstock!) This crew basically invented the flash mob. They thrive on community and the shared language of ritual.  Give them ways to connect and feel invested in the place where they throw their crossbody messenger back at the end of each day. Meet them where they’re at: on social media. And be sure to treat your social feeds as a virtual “third place,” not just a place to sell. 

3. Throw out your template and embrace your cool factor.

Connected Bohemia’s Class of 2021 almost single-handedly brought the term “bespoke” and “small batch” back from antiquity. Unless you’re selling them a phone charger, this is not a segment that values one-size-fits-all. From branding to amenities, keep your message tailored and authentic. What’s unique about your market’s arts and music scene? How does your hyperlocality do coffee culture? What’s the hottest food truck, music festival, or cultural attraction within arm’s reach of your doorstep?  Lean into what’s vibrant and ownable about your part of your submarket, and you’ll be better positioned to make that cool, connected bohemian crowd come a-flocking.

New Case Study: Luxury Living For Seekers

We recently created a brand identity and lease-up campaign for a luxury multifamily community in a hip part of Dallas. Download the case study to see how we brought the idea to life as a bold overture to connected bohemians.

About Primary. We’re an award-winning marketing agency that specializes in bringing places to life and bringing people to those places. For over 25 years, we’ve helped savvy owners, operators, and managers in real estate, hospitality, and beyond conquer their business goals through brilliant brand building, 3D rendering, digital strategy, lead gen, and more. How can we help you? Drop us a line at: [email protected]

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