As many bartenders will attest, young people are big drinkers. According to Technomic and Beverage Marketing Corp.’s new On-Premise Intelligence Report, that demographic buys alcoholic beverages much more frequently than their older counterparts at restaurants and bars. Seven in 10 consumers between the ages of 21 and 34 say they purchase alcohol away from home at least once a week, compared to less than half of older diners (48%).
Here are three ways young consumers will drive change among bar programs, according to the report.
1. LSRs will get boozier
Top restaurant experts are predicting that limited-service restaurants will take on full service’s stake in booze in a big way, and consumer sentiment supports these forecasts. Younger consumers are twice as likely as their older cohorts to want to buy booze at limited-service restaurants. Half of all consumers between the ages of 21 and 34 say they would order adult beverages during most visits to LSRs if the drinks were available, compared to less than a quarter of consumers aged 35 and older. Moreover, these Gen Zers and millennials are expecting booze from LSRs more now than they were two years ago, particularly at coffee shops and fast-food concepts.
Despite the operational challenges presented for adult beverages at limited-service concepts, many brands may find that it’s worth their while. Some emerging and independent LSRs have already implemented successful alcohol service methods, and Taco Bell continues to expand its boozy cantina concept. Additionally, Starbucks launched an Espresso Cloud IPA—an espresso and beer mashup—in October, and the chain plans to debut its Starbucks Evenings program in an airport unit in Louisville, Ky., early next year.
2. Menus will stay fresh
Young consumers seek new choices and variety on adult beverage menus. Two-fifths of this group have tried a new alcohol drink on-premise in the past month, compared to three in 10 consumers overall. Young diners are also interested in a broader assortment of alcohol categories, styles, flavors and brands than their older counterparts are. For example, cider and malt beverages are significantly more popular among those aged 21-34 than consumers 35 and up. In line with these findings, this cohort also places high importance on seasonal and limited-time drink specials.
3. More craft, more draft
Although beer as a whole didn’t make any volume gains at restaurants and bars this year, on-premise craft beer consumption is growing among young consumers. Three-fifths of these diners are drinking craft beer away from home more often now than they were three years ago, compared to two-fifths of their older counterparts. More young than old consumers also prefer draft beer options, highlighting a sweet spot for craft beer on draft among this demographic. Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, Smashburger and Luna Grill have all upsold beer to younger consumers this year with their craft and draft programs.