Here at Voxburner, we’re not afraid to reveal, explore and discuss the truth about Gen Z, however surprising that truth may be. And the one stat that gets us time and time again is this: 28% of young people don’t drink at all (Student Life Report 2021). And with that, just 14% of young people drink alcohol several times a week, and 21% drink about once a week. Last year, a massive 6.5 million people took part in the biggest Dry January ever.
For those of you who still believe that Gen Zers are like their predecessors and regularly drink to excess, this stat is probably pretty surprising. However, as we’ve discussed before (and will continue to do so!), Gen Z is a generation driven by change, and whilst wild parties and alcohol-fuelled experiences are by no means a thing of the past, they’re now shared with healthier choices and a wiser mindset.
But why are Gen Z drinking less?
As we’ve mentioned, Gen Z is, in general, made up of a driven and productive bunch of individuals who want to ‘actively avoid a life controlled by alcohol and are open to sampling alternative products.’ Thanks to better understanding (a lot of which is down to the internet and social media), young people now appreciate the impact that alcohol can have on their bodies and mental health, and take that into account in their decision making. As we discussed in our recent Voxburner+ Nightlife and Youth Culture report, Gen Z is ‘a generation that values openly and honestly discussing mental health and invests time in understanding their minds and bodies… it makes complete sense for Gen Z to recognise when they need to take a break from alcohol.’
And whilst social media has been a source of healthy education for many young people, it also actively deters many young people from drinking to excess. Thanks to the 24/7 nature of social media and users’ ability to share images and videos of their drunken peers, many are wary of the implications this could have further down the line. As The Drum wrote, ‘…there’s a constant stream of live videos and photos shared online for all to see, including friends and potential employers.’
It’s important to note that 38% of Gen Z non-drinkers cite religious beliefs as the reason for their tee-totalism (Voxburner+’s Student Life Report 2021).
Why and how your brand should be listening
Whether you’re an alcohol brand, student union, venue or events company, you shouldn’t be ignoring the non-drinking Gen Zers. According to one article, market-leading beer companies now spend 30% of their marketing budget on 0% beer, and this is an exciting step. Because there’s a massive demographic out there to cater towards (as well as the fact that it’s just the nice thing to do!), you need to ensure that your non-alcoholic offerings can’t just be a substitute or a worse option – they need to be an upgrade. The Drum wrote: ‘Today the message behind alcohol-free is about making conscious and positive choices, without having to compromise on taste and quality.’
So what can you do?
The most important thing you can do is to look at is your brand’s, venue’s or company’s marketing. Does your logo scream partying and alcohol? Do your flyers inadvertently promote excessive drinking? If so, reassess your marketing strategy and reframe it to ensure that all of your consumers feel (and are) included. As the Global Drug Survey commented, ‘Having a drink that looks like it’s alcoholic can help non-drinkers feel like they fit in with their peers who drink.’
And, perhaps most obviously: offer a tasty, delicious and appealing selection of non-alcoholic drinks. There’s nothing worse than only having Coca-Cola to serve your sober customers! Perfect those non-alcoholic cocktails and serve 0% beers on draft. By offering a sober, tasty and appealing option, you’ll only impress your consumers.
Non-alcohol brands case studies
FUL Drinks was started by three friends who met at business school just a few years ago in 2019. The aim was to ‘create work that makes a difference to the planet and human health’ using the superfood spirulina – a fluorescent blue and foul-tasting antioxidant that provides an immune system boost. The superfood’s taste is cleverly disguised in the drink and also looks like a jazzy cocktail when poured into a glass.
And the extra bonus? It’s climate positive. As we discussed in our Voxburner+ Nightlife and Youth Culture report, this is something we know Gen Z values highly, particularly when choosing their alcohol brands.
The OG non-alcohol gin that mimics the taste of alcoholic gin. Seedlip is described as ‘the pioneering movement [that offers] those not drinking alcohol a sophisticated adult option [that has since] become a segment all its own: the ever-growing no & low alcohol category.’
Much like FUL Drinks, Seedlip also has the added bonus of being great for the planet, with it being carbon neutral, coming in sustainable packaging and using natural ingredients.
And remember earlier when we mentioned the importance of perfecting your non-alcoholic cocktails? Check out Seedlip’s website for inspiration – from Nogronis to alcohol-free aperitifs, they’re a wealth of knowledge and great ideas.
Punchy offers the perfect selection of aesthetic and tasty alcohol-free alternatives. From peach, ginger and chai to cucumber, yuzu and rosemary, their packaging offers that summery and nostalgic aesthetic that Gen Z loves.
Punchy are a youthful brand with some killer merch and a fun website, and are the perfect example of where to start on your non-alcoholic journey.
Want to learn more about Gen Z’s relationship with alcohol? Check out our recent Voxburner+ deep dive where we discussed nightlife, young people and the dangers they face.
For the full Nightlife and Youth Culture report, subscribe to Voxburner+ today.
[Cover image 📷: @punchydrinks on Instagram]