A Closer Look At What Generation Z Is Drinking – Part 1

Written by Lisa B. Zimmerman for Forbes Magazine

With all the recent focus on millennials, many drinks marketers have been ignoring the influential Generation Z. This generation was primarily born from 1995 to 2010 and has grown up on the Internet.

According to the New York City-based McKinsey & Company, a management consulting company, Gen Z is focused on its search for truth. The study notes that, “Gen Zers value individual expression and avoid labels. They mobilize themselves for a variety of causes. They believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world. Finally, they make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way. That is why, for us, Gen Z is ‘True Gen.’”

According to Kristi Turner, chief marketing officer of Compeat—an Austin, Texas-based restaurant management system—by 2020, Generation Z will make up 40 percent of all U.S. consumers. As a result it is important for restaurants to understand their tastes and preferences.

I recently sat down with her to take a closer look at some of the new trends that are emerging. All responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Kristi Turner (KT): Sustainability and wellness are fueling the newer bar trends. Consumers want to have a cocktail, but also feel like they are doing something good for their body at the same time. Cocktails can be a great way to incorporate calming or gut-friendly ingredients. CBD-infused cocktails will continue to grow in popularity as well as anti-inflammatory spices, such as turmeric and tarragon, being infused into liquors. Also, low-alcohol content, low-sugar and low-carb alcoholic beverages, such as hard seltzers, will remain a solid choice well into the future.

KT: Vodka is always the popular choice among spirits since it can be easily mixed with just about anything, creating an array of choices from sweet to savory. We’ve really seen a rise in sales of locally sourced, craft liquor brands such as Tito’s and Western Son vodkas over the national brands.

Love or hate it, Chardonnay is hugely popular and is the most planted grape in the U.S. and the world. That’s because wines made with the Chardonnay grape have huge flavor range. They can be produced as clean, crisp wines or as heavier, buttery, oaky flavored ones. However, rosés’ popularity has skyrocketed over the past few years. That’s most likely because it is light and fruity and can be paired with just about anything.

LBZ: What are today’s top wine regions and grapes?

KT: Italy, Spain and France are the top wine-producing countries. However, the United States is also a world leader when it comes to producing wine. Interestingly, every state in the U.S. currently produces wine. The Northwest is best known for commercial vineyards. California is home to some many including Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara; and Washington and Oregon have several regions devoted to vineyards.

LBZ: Is molecular bartending still popular?

KT: In the fast-paced world of the bar industry, we see many trends come and go. While I am not sure if molecular bartending is for everyone, drinks that include the use of liquid nitrogen, mists, or gels change the texture of drinks, making them more interesting. Starbucks, for example, has had success infusing coffee with nitrogen. The bonus is that many molecular cocktails are also sophisticated and interesting, making them Instagram-friendly, which is a driving force behind Gen Z consumers when choosing a place to socialize.

This is just the tip of the iceberg about how this demographic is drinking differently.

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