Adapt to fast-changing youth culture, pubs warned

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Heineken's Emma Sherwood-Smith: "With Generation Z, the internet simply is the dominant part of their life"
Heineken's Emma Sherwood-Smith: "With Generation Z, the internet simply is the dominant part of their life"

Related tags: Social media, Generation y

‘Generation Z’ tends to get a rough ride in the press, being simultaneously branded as humourless tech-obsessives and shameless social media self-promoters. 

The way they interact with hospitality businesses differs considerably from their Millennial predecessors, delegates heard at the Publican’s Morning Advertiser’​s Future Trends: Beer & Cider event.  

Pubs need to adapt to the fast-changing demands of youth culture to retain a solid footfall of younger customers, Heineken cider brands director Emma Sherwood-Smith told the audience.

She said: “With Generation Z, the internet simply is the dominant part of their life. Getting their attention is really, really tough. In the olden days, you would have the same place every week to meet up with your mate – now social media is driving where people go and that changes throughout the week as they’re communicating.”


It was fundamental then that pubs learned to add value to places where consumers already frequented by having a quality, up-to-date presence on social media platforms, she said.

“The other problem affecting them is that, when we were at university, you would go out and the only people that would know what happened were the people you went out with. If you make a plonker out of yourself now, the whole world knows about it.

“These guys recognise getting a job is not that easy and the first place potential employers go to check up on you is your social media. So if there’s a history of you out there drinking, it’s not a good look. And Gen z are very conscious of how they appear on social media.”

Disposable income

Additional pressures meant young people had substantially less disposable income to spend in the on-trade, she added.

“I probably had about £40 of disposable income a week when I was at university and, pretty much, I would spend all that on the pub. Now, that income has to be spent on gym memberships, mobile bills – it’s more like £5 per week in the pub.”

Consumers – particularly young consumers – were increasingly seeing themselves as brands, she said.

“The choices that they make about where they go, the food they eat, the drinks they choose are all part of building their personal brands. Are we representing ourselves as brands to support these guys’ own personal brand identities?”

The PMA's Future Trends: Beer & Cider event was supported by headline sponsor Heineken and associate partners Nigay, Willis Publicity, Kegstar and Aston Manor.

Related topics: Beer, Cider

Related news

Show more


Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more

The MA Lock In Podcast

Join us for a Lock In