Enticing a new generation – Gen Z

Step aside millennials, there’s a new team in town.

2019 is the year that Generation Z steps ahead of the millennial generation as the biggest consumer group across the globe. As the evolution of the hospitality market continues, Gen Z have ripped up the rule book and it’s our job to learn the new game…

New research from Nescafé Azera shows that 78 per cent of Gen Zers think pubs, bars and restaurants need to become more inviting to customers who don’t drink alcohol. According to its Nitro-Generation: Inspiring the Pub of the Future report, a third want seasonal and interesting non-alcoholic drinks and one in five are looking for iced or speciality coffee.

Some interesting stats to come out of the report include:

  • 77 per cent of Gen Z visit their favourite watering hole more than once per month (compared to 66 per cent of Gen X)
  • 85 per cent said they are looking for more from their local, with over half saying they would be more likely to visit if it offered live music (56 per cent), quizzes (52 per cent), Karaoke (31 per cent) and video games (22 per cent) were also popular.

So what else do we, as bar, pub and restaurant owners need to be aware of when it comes to Gen Z?

Eating habits have changed dramatically, with the concept of the plant-based diet storming through pubs, restaurants and supermarkets in a vegan revolution that’s a world away from the obscure idea that a meat-free lifestyle once was. Where once we would meet our future spouse over a pint and a Chardonnay down our local, we now swipe left or right from the comfort of our own sofa.

The explosion of coffee shops confirms the idea that eating and drinking out still is the popular choice for today’s consumer – but why is this generation opting for a caramel latte over a cool, crisp larger? How can pubs bring people back in through the doors? How can they re-capture a nation’s imagination? How will pubs not only survive but thrive?

It’s time to hone in on what the upcoming generation actually want from modern pubs. This generation drinks less alcohol than others that have come before[1]; it needs to choose from a wider range of products and demands sharable Instagrammable experiences. According to Mintel’s research, one reason behind this generation’s measured drinking is the fear of being ‘snapped’ whilst intoxicated and viewing being drunk as “something that old people do”[2]. The data, from a survey by Eventbrite, states that only one in ten see getting drunk as ‘cool’[3]. What might sound like the death knell for pubs is instead a clarion call for the evolution of the local. As an industry, our approach and way of engaging with guests need to be revisited and reimagined. We need to be innovative in our approach to the products we serve, to be more conscious of dietary options and develop our range of low and no-alcohol offerings so that we can be the inclusive space where both men and women can work, rest and play.

There has been a noticeable rise in popularity of “adult” style non-alcoholic drinks, most notably the first non-alcoholic spirit. What started out as the ultimate in craft product, using herbal remedies and distillation techniques that date back to the mid-16th century, has now become part of the mainstream.

Today we must be mindful that our audience’s wants and needs are evolving – we must not be resistant to that and hang onto the past. Instead, we must look at our offering and our way of operating and embrace a new future for our beloved pubs. If we do not continuously work hard to attract and impress our guests, we are at risk of being left behind.

  • Think in zones

Think of the pub’s footprint in different zones. Include day time workspaces, food and family areas, drinks stations and live music stages to give the pub maximum opportunity to be used throughout the day and night. Work zones, for example, need power points and fast speed Wi-Fi, whereas cosy areas need cushions and low lighting. Map out various ways in which your guests can use your pub – use lighting to complement the setting and furniture that lends itself to your purpose.

  • Collaboration is key

Offer a space with a community feel by providing a long table that works for day time business meetings over coffee as well as evening events, such as master classes or tasting nights. Equally, partnering with your suppliers and with surrounding businesses can create new revenue opportunities and attract new audiences that might otherwise pass by. Research shows that 89% of today’s young consumers trust recommendations that come from family and friends, rather than blanket advertising[4], so return your pub to the focus of the conversation. Smart collaboration within the community is key.

  • Embrace technology

From high-speed WiFi and multiple mobile charging points to interactive menus and ordering tablets, Generation Z has not only embraced technology but they expect it to be available as standard. Ordering apps and real time table reservations attract a generation who crave convenience. Gen Z guests want fast, efficient service, smart websites and fuss-free social media connection. Up to 98% of Gen Z own a smartphone[5] – that’s why creating a loyalty app for your pub could be a simple and savvy way of connecting with your audience and earning their dedication. Alternatively, you can leverage other companies’ technology to increase your guest loyalty. Community websites like Meetup.com can empower pubs to connect with groups who are passionate about a particular topic such as chess or poker, entrepreneurship, photography or conversations over coffee. You could create your own Facebook group or YouTube Channel for your fans and release exclusive invites to special events such as menu tastings or special offers exclusively for your group members and subscribers.

  • The Non-Drinking Generation

Pubs today must consider different demographics when creating menus, working to invite and serve a wider audience than who they have historically served. Low sugar, low alcohol and non-alcoholic alternatives are a critical part of any pub offering today. Quality long and short coffee serves, alongside options of superfood smoothies, and even matcha green tea all connect with a generation concerned with simple, quality and superior health benefits. In addition to the traditional hot lattes and flat white requests, there is a rising thirst for cold brew coffee, a smoother beverage with less acidity and bitterness than coffee brewed hot. According to Technomic’s 2018 report, cold or iced coffee is Gen Z’s most-frequently purchased beverage[6]. Adding to this phenomenon is the popularity of nitro cold coffee. This was devised as cold-brew coffee infused with nitrogen, on draught or from a can, producing a visual effect very much like Guinness. With an enviable consistency in both flavour and texture, it permits the perfect pour 100% of the time. We must anticipate an industry boom in non-alcoholic options with these products earning their place on the back bars and in the fridges of many well-respected venues.

  • Experience is everything

Whether it’s a movie screening, an interactive theatre-style event, comedy night or even a coffee tasting, immersive, social, share-worthy experiences are what motivates this generation. There’s no reason why pubs of the future can’t be the go-to place for sellout pop up events. Themed nights can be tied in with group activities, such as pub quizzes or musical bingo, to get everyone excited and engaged in the night. From the perfect lighting for a Saturday night selfie to on-trend Instagrammable décor, the modern pub should consider the visual offering and be more exciting in the experiences created for guests. Think of your pub as being an experience creator and a memory-making business, rather than somewhere to get a pint of lager and a packet of peanuts. There is an endless amount of opportunity waiting for you.

  • Get Gen Z ready

If you would like to find out more about the Nitro-Generation report visit www.nestleprofessional.co.uk/NescafeAzera-NitroGeneration and if you’re interested in making your pub future-fit for the next generation, I’m teaming up with Nestle Professional and Nescafe Azera for the chance to win a consultation to make your pub future-fit for the next generation.

For more information and to enter the competition visit:



[1] Office of National Statistics (2017)

[2] Mintel (2017)

[3] Eventbrite (2017)

[4] Nielpatel, Connecting with Millennial Shoppers (accessed 2019)

[5] Global Web Index, Generation Z: Smartphone Ownership & Importance (2017)

[6] Technomic, Generational Consumer Trend Report (2018)

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Joy Zarine | Business Coach and SpeakerJoy Zarine | Business Coach and Speaker