Gen Z are key to future success of pubs, licensees must work to attract them

By Claire Churchard

- Last updated on GMT

Top tips: MCA senior client services manager Giles Smith
Top tips: MCA senior client services manager Giles Smith

Related tags: Social media, Generation y

The pub industry must engage with Generation Z to ensure its survival because this age group are the customers of the future, MA500 delegates heard at the latest event in Edinburgh last week (Thursday 14 September).

But engaging with Gen Z (specifically 18 to 21-year-olds) will be a challenge because pubs hold less appeal for them than their slightly older counterparts known as Millennials, aged 22 to 34, according to research from The Morning Advertiser​’s sister title MCA​.

MCA​ senior client services manager Giles Smith, told the MA500 audience that while Gen Z go out more frequently than Millennials (2.3 times a month compared to 1.9 times respectively), eating and drinking outside their homes is lower down the list of priority leisure activities for Gen Z.

Appealing factors

But it isn’t all doom and gloom because the research also showed that 43% of 18 to 21-year-olds expect to visit pubs and bars more often in five years’ time because they view pubs as “part of their future”. Just over a third, 36%, will visit pubs about the same and only 21% will visit less.

The most important factors for Gen Z when considering where to go out for drinks or food are inexpensive drinks, free Wi-Fi, an appealing atmosphere and environment, and a good crowd.

Smith added: “Food plays a big part for Gen Z, they want food choice and food quality, it’s on their radar. As well as price and atmosphere, this group look for tech-savvy pubs where they can order and pay for food and drink from their phone. Pubs must adapt and improve their image to attract Gen Z.”

"Social media appears to be the key to getting the attention of Gen Z and attracting them to pubs", Smith explained, because this age group “chat more on social media”.

Social trends

One social media platform that appears to be in favour with this group is Snapchat. Earlier in the day, Dominic Collingwood, founder of pub sports app Matchpint, told MA500 delegates that 71% of 18 to 25-year-olds use Snapchat.​ While this group is a mix of Gen Z and Millennials, it shows how important social media is to younger pub customers.

Asked if the teetotallers from the Millennial generation will continue with Gen Z, Smith said: “Yes, we’re certainly seeing that from the research we’ve done. If you look at the broader social trends that are coming through, people are becoming much more conscious of health. So we’re moving away from traditional more booze-driven social experiences, although it might not be teetotal.

“There was a lad culture towards the end of the 1990s. But if you’re a lad in 2016-17 you’re more interested in going to the gym rather than going out and drinking 15 pints.”

Related topics: Marketing

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