Gen Z consumers – and Gen Alpha after them – are less likely to drink alcohol than previous generations, forcing an evolution in the alcoholic beverages category for both product development and marketing approach.

That has been evident in the rush to launch zero-alcohol drinks, but drinking less is only one piece of a bigger puzzle that brands need to unpick, according to Vicky Bullen, CEO, Coley Porter Bell.

Writing for WARC, she explains that “It’s about Gen Z being able to live life their ‘right’ way, and there’s a place for both alcohol and zero-alcohol in this.

“Booze brands need to think differently and embed their learnings into their marketing and brand strategies.” (For more details read her article in full: Evolving the alcoholic beverages category: Marketing to engage Gen Z.)

They need to understand, for example, why the role alcohol occupies for this generation is not the same as for previous ones.

“A hangover and a sloppy social media presence is considered a competitive disadvantage by many Gen Z consumers,” Bullen notes.

Research from Red Brick Road and Opinium also reveals that 83% of this age group feel mental health is as important as physical health – and that drinking alcohol puts this at risk.

Then there are the many other factors that feed into their world view: the fight against climate change, the drive for sustainability, the boom of plant-based diets, the need for individuality and affinity for purpose-driven brands.

“All these trends are influencing purchasing decisions and creating challenges that will feel familiar to many other FMCG categories dealing with unprecedented disruption,” says Bullen.

“Gen Z is demanding that brands play a bigger role in supporting (or even fulfilling) their conscious-driven lifestyle choices and individuality.

“Therefore, this isn’t just about furnishing consumers with tasty zero-percent booze, far from it; instead it’s a drive to furnishing them with the tools to better their lifestyles beyond the liquid.”

Sourced from WARC