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Remember your 21st b-day? How excited you were to… not drink alcohol?

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RBC’s Nik Modi recently shared some data on ‘The Evolving Beverage Alcohol Consumer’ – specifically, the consumption trends of Gen Z. Referencing a range of Numerator data, Nik points out that:

  • 6% fewer Gen Z households buy alcohol than Millennial households.

  • Gen Z spends 40% less on alcohol beverages, and makes 5 fewer trips annually than their Millennial counterparts.

In response, most manufacturers are innovating like mad to address these shifts – with lots of notable collaborations between traditionally non bev-alc brands… The Coca-Cola Company partnering with Constellation Brands, Boston Beer partnering with PepsiCo, and so on.

But beyond all the new “WHAT’s” in the bev-alc world (Ranch Water, anyone?), referencing our longitudinal data over the past few years reveals WHY Gen Z is trending this way as these consumers come of legal-drinking-age…

Specifically, this cohort is expressing a uniquely tribal mindset of late – looking to the wisdom of peers, and collective value. This stands in contrast to more internal, impulsive drivers that often pair with letting loose, kicking back, or otherwise indulging.

This tells us that, to connect with this up-and-coming group of potential consumers, brands will need to focus on collective, social experiences around their brands – vs. simply what’s in the can. These 21+ consumers will be pondering “how will this make me appear to others?”, “what’s in it for my friends and me in terms of making deeper connections?”, and so on.

Alcohol beverages have always had a social connotation – and Gen Z appears to be taking its own tact on what it means to ‘drink socially.’