Angels or Hedonists: Myth-busting Gen Z and their drinking habits

The growth of the low & no category across different markets, as well sizeable changes in consumer behaviour all point to a decided shift in this generation’s relationship to alcohol – with 40% of 16-24-year-olds in the UK having moderated their alcohol intake in 2023.*  

Yet there is more to this story. Our work with a range of alcohol brands, researching Gen Z behaviour in countries from the UK to Nigeria, has shown us that this generation is still interested in partying, and that alongside the responsible drinking, there is still a healthy dose of mischief!  

If alcohol brands avoid pigeonholing Gen Z consumers, this group continues to pose opportunities in the alcohol & party space, for instance around self-expression, escapism, and making memories. 



For a generation more interested in authenticity than in blending in with others, the party space offers Gen Z consumers a stage for expressing themselves authentically and having fun exploring their own identity, an environment in which consumers feel comfortable letting go and being themselves. Bold, attention-grabbing alcoholic drinks can empower consumers to own their individuality in a memorable manner, and play a part in social media.  



As Gen Z consumers are moderating their alcohol consumption and being more selective about when they party, when they do decide to go all out, they’re looking to feel transported, to escape from daily concerns, and even to go wild. Alcoholic products that encourage Gen Z’s desire for experimentation and playfulness – for instance through inventive, whimsical formats or intriguing new flavours – enable them to make their party moments count, and to lose themselves in the moment.  



For a generation grown up on social media, and concerned with making up for the lost years of the Covid pandemic, having exciting experiences to document and share with others is a primary concern.  While evidence shows Gen Z approach drinking more consciously and measuredly than previous generations, there is still something aspirational about the spontaneity and unpredictability of a great night out for them, even if it occurs less often. Alcoholic drinks can play a role in crafting memorable experiences for consumers and their friends through interactive rituals and formats that cater to the whole group. 


Rather than hedonists or angels, Gen Z seem keen to find the balance. Across the globe, our work with alcohol brands suggests partying – and the role for alcoholic drinks in this – is not dead in the water after all, as long as brands can reflect Gen Z’s shifting priorities. 



* Gen Z and the Future of Consumer Behaviour | Mintel 

By: Flavia Cotini and Heather Young

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