As Gen Z’s influence on the global drinking population continues to increase, the need for the drinks industry to understand their habits, traits, and core values is growing. Rather than waiting until this consumer base fully comes into its own, spirits brands should invest in understanding and harnessing this demographic to set themselves up for success in the future. 

At Bar Convent Berlin, Park Street University held a seminar that explores Gen Z’s consumption patterns and guiding principles to help industry members better understand this demographic as a consumer segment and workforce. The presentations covered Gen Z’s purchasing patterns, its relationship with on-premise environments, and the importance of incorporating its perspectives into company cultures. 

How Brands Can Adapt to New Generations of Alcohol Drinkers

From a brand-building perspective, the importance of implementing consistent messaging across generations is crucial to maintaining brand relevancy. Chris Maffeo, the Founder of Maffeo Drinks, emphasized that brands often experience generational changes as they evolve. This evolution may include changes in management, market conditions, and consumer demographics. 

Maffeo highlighted that brand success is not an overnight achievement, typically taking around 20 years of consistent effort. As new generations enter the market over this period, there may be a temptation to make drastic changes in branding in response to market fluctuations. However, changes can lead to the loss of existing customers, who no longer resonate with the brand, and may confuse potential new customers.

Maffeo’s key message is to maintain brand consistency, focus on the basics, and educate new generations about the brand’s essence rather than changing the essence itself. He uses examples of brands like Campari, Aperol, Hendrick’s Gin, and Guinness that successfully adhered to these principles and maintained their brand identity and reputation. 

How Gen Z Feels About Alcohol According to Nielsen Data

In this video, Charlie Mitchell, Research & Insights Director of Nielsen IQ Global, focuses on the future of the on-premise consumer. His presentation addresses some common stereotypes: Gen Z is ethically conscious, spends excessive time on platforms like TikTok, and has a limited relationship with consuming alcohol. For Mitchell, brands must address these perceptions to understand and reach this group.

Mitchell’s presentation focuses the bulk of its efforts on uncovering Gen Z’s behavior in on-premise venues. He highlights their distinct interest in ethical well-being, sustainability, and a preference for trying different drinks rather than sticking to one brand. 

Mitchell also highlights social media as a powerful tool for influencing Gen Z’s purchasing decisions, with 83% saying they would buy a product after seeing it on social media. Celebrity endorsements can also be influential if properly aligned with the brand’s and consumer’s values. For example, due to Gen Z’s focus on health, the importance of advocating for moderation and responsible drinking campaigns is stressed along with the need for aligning with no and low-alcohol options. 

In terms of Gen Z’s drink preferences, the group is more likely to drink cocktails and try new and alternative categories, while they are less likely to drink beer. Despite this fact, Guinness stood out as an attractive beer brand to Gen Z due to its recognizability and social media appeal. 

Romantic occasions and other experience-led occasions, including business meetings, are on the rise for this demographic. Brands should aim to leverage Gen Z’s inclination to seek out unique experiences, including interactive venues, street food, pop-ups, and music festivals. Ultimately, Mitchell advised businesses and operators to focus on where Gen Z goes and what motivates them, considering activations at venues that resonate to build long-lasting relationships.

Ish Spirits on Why Gen Z is Drinking Low and No-Alcohol Spirits

Morton Sørensen, the Founder of ISH Spirits, covers the macro trends driving the shift to non-alcoholic beverages and how ISH aims to cater to these evolving preferences.

Sørensen shared the results of a survey from a collaboration with Rekom Group, a Danish nightlife company, highlighting the increasing interest in mindful drinking among Gen Z. He pointed out that a significant portion of Rekom’s guests are curious about limiting alcohol consumption, which presents an opportunity for venues to adapt and offer appealing non-alcoholic options.

As an example, Sørensen details ISH’s collaboration with a high-end cocktail bar called Dandy in Copenhagen. At the venue, they introduced mindful drinking options, extended operating hours, created a dedicated mindful menu, and featured commercial partners to enhance the overall experience. This approach allowed them to cater to a growing and diverse Gen Z audience, demonstrating that mindful drinking can be both inclusive and exciting.


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