Australia ranks in the top 15 countries of having a high level of alcohol abstention in its Gen Z (aged 18-26) population, according to the latest data from drinks market analysis company IWSR. While it varies widely across countries, the cohort’s interaction with alcohol is very different to its older counterparts, IWSR said.
“Younger, legal-drinking aged Gen Z consumers increasingly enjoy a very different relationship with alcohol versus older age cohorts, exhibiting rising levels of abstention, moderation, experimenting with new categories, and turning away from traditional, high-volume categories,” IWSR said.
It found a significant proportion of younger legal drinking age (LDA) people are avoiding alcohol altogether but with wide variations depending on the country.
Japan topped the list with 63 per cent of its LDA Gen Z not having consumed any alcohol in the past six months. The US (54 per cent) and Canada (44 per cent) followed. In all three, the abstention rate was higher than the total adult population, although Gen Z consumers are under-represented in the US and Canada because of the higher legal drinking age.
IWSR COO Consumer Research, Richard Halstead, said, “A surprisingly large proportion of younger LDA communities are now claiming that they abstain from alcohol altogether,”
“This is particularly true in Japan and North America, but the moderation trend is also prevalent in other markets across Europe, Asia and Australasia.”
The Gen Z population that is drinking is changing its interaction with alcohol. IWSR found it was under-represented in traditional high volume categories - beer, wine - but over-represented in ready-to-drink (RTD), white spirit based cocktails, liqueurs and aperitifs.
The company said its consumer tracking showed young adult drinkers are now the key drivers of cocktail culture in markets that have the highest penetration of cocktail consumption (e.g. India, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, the US and Italy).
“Unlike Millennials – who display a tendency to experiment with whisky-based mixology – Gen Z consumers currently show a stronger preference for white spirit-based cocktails.
“Beyond these general global trends, Gen Z preferences are nuanced by region and market,” Halstead said.
Some Gen Z behaviours - reduced consumption, preference for cocktails and premium drinks - were apparent in the preceding generation, the Millenials (late 20s-early 40s).
“It is worth noting that it is very early days for Gen Z drinkers in the beverage alcohol market, and close monitoring of their behaviour over time will be required to see how their tastes evolve,” he said.
Ultimately, IWSR said the findings point to “an emerging world in which beverage alcohol producers will likely be more reliant on premium, must-have beverages, including those with low or zero alcohol in them, delivered in memorable settings and/or packaging”.