The Generation Game – Is Gen Z the beginning of the end for the On Premise?

Charlie Mitchell, CGA by NIQ’s director of research and insight, looks at the shifting preferences and behaviours of Gen Z in the On Premise and explores the opportunities this generation brings for operators and suppliers.
Charlie Mitchell, CGA research & insight director

Right, let’s get the stereotypes out of the way. I am a Millennial, also known as a Gen Y, or more simply, somebody who was born between 1981 and 1996. As such, I have also been known to eat so much avocado on toast and spend so much on Netflix that I can’t afford a mortgage. My generation are the ‘entitled generation’; we expect high salaries without ‘a proper day’s draft’, we see success plastered on Twitter and demand the same for ourselves, we so desperately long for the social currency of likes, followers and kudos, that we will give up what previous generations deemed important to attain it.


But of course, none of that is universally true. I don’t even like avocado on toast.


Which highlights the danger of stereotyping an entire generation based on blunt analysis and generalisations. However, that is not to say that there is no merit in such an approach. If you didn’t have a social media strategy to target Millennials ten years ago, based on that idea of social currency, then it is likely that you are reading this article in a far less successful business than those of you who did.


So, it is worthwhile running a similar exercise for our next generation of On Premise visitors, to understand how to target, attract and retain this potential customer base. Known as Gen Z and born between 1997 and 2012, those lazy stereotypes would tell us that these are the TikTok generation; they have short attention spans, jump from task to task and, as a result, can’t hold a conversation. They are the woke, snowflake generation, who spend all of their time relentlessly campaigning for social and environmental justice (the horror!). They look down their noses at their elders (“OK Boomer”) and, here is the sting, they do not drink.


Yes, this is seen to be the generation of abstainers; they have better things to do with their lives than drink (surely not possible) and suffer the effects of a hangover (Ok, I get it). This could have disastrous consequences for the On Premise sector that we all love. An On Premise without young people just sounds grim; as much as I like chewing the fat with a bunch of old blokes, I’m not sure I would be able to justify the description of the sector as “vibrant” without the youth that makes up so much of its audience.


So, it seems the sector is faced with a huge issue of a generation turning away from alcohol, the core offering of many an On Premise venue.


But that isn’t the case.


The stereotype just doesn’t ring true. CGA by NIQ’s global analysis of nearly 30,000 consumers, of whom 6,000 fell into the Gen Z age bracket shows that these consumers are actually more frequent visitors to the sector than average. A whopping 70% visit weekly, compared to the 61% average. They drink more drinks too. Yes, there is an over-index for soft drinks and no/low alcohol alternatives, but they over-index for the likes of tequila and vodka. Another stereotype aimed at Gen Z is that they are nostalgic and that certainly plays through in drinks choices. Gen Z are more likely than average to choose almost all “traditional” categories, such as rice wine, fruit wine and traditional liqueurs.



The big difference however is in beer and in cocktails. For the first time ever in our data, this is a consumer group who are just as likely to drink cocktails as they are to drink beer; offering a huge opportunity for spirits companies. With the Instagram-ability of cocktails and the relative ubiquity of standard serve of beer, there is a recruitment challenge faced by beer which cocktails can capitalise on.


Of course, generalisations are usually based on some semblance of truth, and although not abstainers, Gen Z are more likely to moderate alcohol income and lower ABV cocktails such as spritz serves jump in popularity with this group, as are “responsible drinking” campaigns and a focus on ethical and sustainable practices will also serve as a way to endear your brands with a socially conscious consumer.


However, to really understand such a wide-ranging, complex and disparate consumer group, and to effectively target the sub-groups that are most aligned to your brands, it is essential to go beyond the headlines, to delve into the numbers below the headlines. One thing is for sure though, in the hands of Gen Z the end of the On Premise as we know it is not nigh.


CGA by NIQ’s On Premise User Survey (OPUS) provides suppliers and operators with a rich source of data and insights to help answer questions of consumers’ behaviour, channels, occasions and categories, and optimise sales and marketing strategies within the On Premise. To learn more, please email Charlie Mitchell at 


Originally published in Global Drinks Intel Magazine

Recent posts:

Share post


Subscribe to our newsletter

Access the latest On Premise news and reports by signing up below.