Gen Z want TikTok, Tequila and no hangover

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Wellness, simplicity and excitement: DUSK chief executive shares Gen Z drinking trends (Getty/ Hollie Fernando)
Wellness, simplicity and excitement: DUSK chief executive shares Gen Z drinking trends (Getty/ Hollie Fernando)

Related tags Spirits Low to no Cocktails Social responsibility Branding + marketing

The co-founder of bar exploration app DUSK has offered fresh insight into Generation Z drinking trends, after research revealed those aged 16 to 24 to be driving hospitality’s attempted recovery from the pandemic.

DUSK chief executive and co-founder Sophie Abrahamovitch said simplicity, wellness and excitement were key in enticing Gen Z. She urged pubs to abandon floral aesthetics and Facebook for TikTok and a simple design to cater to the younger generation. 

This comes after data,​ sourced by SevenRooms, found of the 2,008 surveyed young people, 16 to 24-year-olds were spending an average of £68.02 a week in pubs, bars and restaurants. In comparison, those aged 35 to 44 spent an average of £45.75, decreasing to £21.52 for participants aged 55 and over. 

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Abrahamovitch had noticed the younger generations move towards thinking more about what, where and when they were drinking.  

“We’re seeing them wanting to try something new and different but wanting to have that recognisable brand name and something they know is good quality,” she said. 

She continued: “There’s also a move towards wellness. People want to know what they're consuming, but also want to avoid the hangover. 

“There’s an association with sugar and the hangover, so they like to avoid that and keep hydrated so they can still do all the other things they want to do the next day.” 

Thursday is the new Friday

Gen Z were also opting for products that were sustainable, made with real fruit and contained a low alcohol content. “We’re seeing quality over quantity,” Abrahamovitch added.  

There had also been a shift towards simplicity. “People don’t want a really complicated sugary cocktail – just a simple but nice serve, probably in a long glass,” she said. 

What’s more, Tequila as a long drink was all the rage, according to the chief executive. “This summer, we’ve seen the Paloma taking off hugely,” she said. “The cocktail can be made with real fruit, in a tall glass – a real drink rather than the old association of a Tequila shot."

The DUSK app uses a point-based system to offer consumers rewards and free drinks when they explore new bars. Some 70% of the app’s one million users were Gen Z, with the majority going out to bars around three times a week.  

“We’re seeing quality over quantity” 

While Friday had been the most popular day of the week pre-Covid, Gen Z were now preferring to go out on Wednesdays and Thursdays. 

This was the case as many people now worked from home on Fridays, and so were not in offices in city centres, meaning many hospitality venues were struggling on the last day of the working week. 

Tap into TikTok

What’s more, Abrahamovitch had seen a huge uptake in the use of the DUSK app since Covid. Around 50 sites were joining each week, as venues wanted to offer cash-strapped consumers discounts to combat the cost-of-living crisis. She had also seen “astronomical” month-on-month growth of 30% to 40% in consumers using the platform. 

At £29 per head, Gen Z were spending less than millennials on a night out. However, they were going out more frequently and wanted to explore a variety of venues. The co-founder said this was because Gen Z preferred to meet new people on a night out whereas Millennials valued spending quality time with friends. 

Making your pub affordable was key to attracting Gen Z, advised Abrahamovitch. “Small discounts and a set happy hour are not enough,” she said. “You need to be smarter than that and find ways of driving people to your site rather than just advertising to regular customers.” 

Rather than sticking to Facebook, venues should be exploring TikTok​ and Instagram​ as marketing tools, she added. 

On social media, Gen Z tended to ‘photo dump’ – posting a low-effort montage of photos to Instagram or TikTok conveying a mood or event. This is a less filtered approach than Millennials, who favour posting perfectly edited images and floral backgrounds.  

Nightlife competitiveness

“This means you can be much more real about what’s going on in the pub,” she said. “It can be unfiltered. If Gen Z see something as an advert, they’re just going to filter it out. So, making your [social media posts] feel real and showing what’s going on in the bar is very important.” 

On TikTok, Abrahamovitch also believed there was always an opportunity to ‘blow up’ even if you weren’t an influencer. “It’s easy to clock up a decent number of views even if you’re not going viral,” she said.  

She added: “A lot of sites have young people working for them that would love to do that for them, so they don’t have to outsource a social media manager. This makes things accessible.” 

The chief executive also believed the influx of restaurants, pubs and bars marketed on TikTok created a culture of ‘nightlife competitiveness’.  

“You see people – and especially your friends – going out and visiting venues, and it does make them more appealing. It creates this need to go, and it’s super powerful.” 

Simplicity and inclusivity

She advised pubs to be “consistent and fun” with TikTok and make the venue’s brand accessible for young people to discover on their phones. 

“There’s a shying away from that super-influencer culture of queuing up to take a photo in front of flowers”

Abrahamovitch also anticipated a big change in the types of bars popular in the UK. She forecasted a shift away from floral instillations, soft lighting and marble that made venues “perfect for an Instagram photo”. 

“There’s a shying away from that super-influencer culture of queuing up to take a photo in front of flowers,” she added. Instead, she believed customers were much more focused on the products and simple aesthetics.  

Natural wine bars were becoming hugely popular with the youth according to Abrahamovitch, who thought this was because they were high-quality but also “a bit more rough and ready”. 

Furthermore, she advised pubs to have representational staff and make sure their venue catered for everyone, as this would appeal to Gen Z. Stocking a balance of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks was also vital. 

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