Gen Z: What they’re reading, drinking & why

Like you, we spend lots of time thinking about Gen Z and what compels them to pay attention. They now make up 17% (55M) of the US population with direct buying power estimated as high as $143B*. Nearly 27%** are currently 21 and older.

Gen Zers of legal drinking age pose both huge opportunities and critical questions for adult beverage marketers. Chief in our minds: how do they discover categories and brands, and what fundamental attitudes and habits predispose them to do so?

To that end, here are three things that we are watching closely:

1. Media Habits. How and where Gen Z consumes news is mission critical and ever-changing, and here’s something that may surprise you: this cohort is more than twice as likely as Millennials to favor established, traditional media outlets***. While Gen Z may be digital and social media natives, they aren’t shunning traditional media outlets. They just consume them digitally instead of on paper. Regularly reaching them through more traditional news sources (especially those that are heavily active on social media like The New York Times and CNN) needs be an integral part of any adult beverage comms strategy.

2. Category Preferences. If you missed our client Drizly’s recent webinar on Gen Z drinking trends (copies available upon request), one of the big headlines was this generation’s affinity for liquor. Drizly purchasing data shows that Gen Zers are more likely to drink liquor than any other generation – Gen X and Boomers included – and less likely to drink wine.

3. Underlying Motivations. It’s not just about what Gen Z is drinking. It’s also about why. A recent study showed that Gen Z tends to drink to enhance good times already being had. By contrast, Millennials drink primarily to relax**** . Gen Z is also more likely to consider whether an alcoholic beverage (in their words) “boosts my energy,” “offers nutritional or wellness benefits” and “helps me focus or stay productive” than Millennials. It points to the likes of so-called clean ingredients, and low-alc/no-alcs, as enduring, innovation- and investment-worthy mainstays, not fleeting trends.


* Generation Z As Future Consumers – Forecast to 2027, March 2019

**Assumes even age distribution of Gen Z, who are between 10 and 25 years old

***MediaPost: Atlantic Re: Think Study Finds Millennial Media Not a Good Fit For Gen Z Audiences

****Numerator Survey, June 2021