Gen Z Outside Party

You don't need to listen to the news every day to know that Gen Z are drinking less than the generations before them. One thing that's often not discussed in much depth though is why?

For generations before, booze and socialising went hand-in-hand in many countries around the world, but now the tables are turning.

When thinking about your strategies menu design to experience, brand and marketing strategy, it’s vital to understand the truth behind the trend in order to make your pub, club, bar or restaurant as appealing as possible to the youngest customers through your doors.

In this piece, we dig deeper into what's driving the trend.

Gen Zers Drinking Less Alcohol

First of all, is it even true? Are Gen Zers really not drinking much?

As with everything, is difficult to know how much you can actually trust the press.

As soon as there’s a quiet news day, something that only seemed a small point a few weeks back is suddenly headline news.

It’s worth taking a look at the data then to see what the truth is, before we look at the reasons Gen Zers drink less.

According to the most recent data, Gen-Z drink on average 20% less than Millenials. But it’s also important to note that Millenials drank less than the previous generation, too.

So the shift itself is a continuation of a move towards a healthier lifestyle that had already begun.

Beyond that though, there are other reasons that the trend has continued to grow.

Gen Z People Hiking

1. Shifting Priorities

Gen Zers have shifted priorities in comparison with previous generations.

Largely throughout recent history (of the Western world, at least), booze and socialising have gone hand-in-hand.

Many Gen Zers are now prioritising experiences that don't revolve around drinking. It’s not that they necessarily have a problem with alcohol or are anti-booze entirely, it’s just that the choices they’re making tend to centre around experiences where booze simply doesn’t fit.

This generation places a premium on activities that foster genuine connections and personal growth, such as outdoor adventures, cultural exploration and even volunteer work.

As a result, alcohol-centric gatherings are gradually being replaced by activities that offer more meaningful and memorable interactions.

Gen Z Meditation

2. Health and Wellness Awareness

Gen Zers are also notably more health-conscious than generations before, a factor which is true of both body and mind.

About 1-in-5 Gen Zers actively use an app such as Headspace to ensure mindfulness is a core part of their daily routines.

Generations of the past simply accepted that ‘hangxiety’ was a part of their lives, but Gen Z are recognising those feelings, dwelling on them and deciding that the trade-off of fun from the night before isn’t worth the recovery time.

This awareness extends to the potential health risks associated with drinking booze.

The rise of wellness trends, the popularity of fitness apps and the prevalence of online health communities have all contributed to this heightened awareness.

Gen Z Phones

3. Digital Socialising

The rise of digital platforms and social media has also transformed the way people connect and socialise.

Gen Zers are highly adept at maintaining relationships through online interactions.

Virtual hangouts, online gaming, and video chats have become significant alternatives to traditional in-person gatherings.

For many, the instantaneousness of a tipsy chat down the pub has been replaced by Snapchat.

“Meet me at the pub” simply isn’t as necessary a saying as it used to be and, as a result, the likelihood of engaging in alcohol-related socialising has diminished.

Gen Z Mobile Banking

4. Financial Realities

Economic factors also play a role in Gen Z's changing drinking habits.

This generation has witnessed pretty significant economic uncertainty, including the 2008 financial crisis and the more recent pandemic.

These experiences have influenced spending habits and financial priorities.

Many Gen Zers prefer to save their funds towards bigger experiences and longer term investments, rather than living in the moment and spending on booze.

As a result, frugality and financial responsibility have become key influencers in their decisions to drink less.

Gen Zers Doing Shots

5. Bye Bye Peer Pressure

Gen Zers are also at the forefront of redefining societal norms more than any other generation have since perhaps the ‘60s.

Just as they challenge traditional gender roles and workplace expectations, they are also reshaping the norms around what a good time looks like.

Where previous generations tended to do all they could to fit in, Gen Z have a new emphasis on authenticity and individuality, meaning peer pressure has diminished and they are way more comfortable asserting their preferences and boundaries.



Interestingly, the trend of alcohol consumption reducing isn’t new, but it has grown significantly over the past few years due to Gen Zers different views on the world.

It’s unlikely that we’ll ever reach a point where alcohol isn’t popular at all, but it’s key to consider the reasons Gen Zers are drinking less when designing restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels and any other venue that may have in the past centered around the consumption of booze.

Interested in how we can help you define the future of your brand experience? Check out our Experience Strategy services here.
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