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Beverage

Cannabis is competing with alcohol for Gen Z’s dollars

This generation often prefers to socialize at home, and legalization of marijuana provides an option other than alcohol for those of legal drinking age.
customers in a bar
Photograph: Shutterstock

Gen Z is a generation of homebodies, and until the pandemic is really in the rearview mirror, nearly half would rather socialize at home.

That was one of the findings in Technomic’s survey of 2,000 consumers aged 21-plus, half of them Gen Z, and half millennials.

In 2021, 35 million Gen Zers are currently of legal drinking age (21 to 28), and ten years from now, that number will rise 85 million. But cannabis is as much a draw as beer, wine and cocktails.

In states where recreational cannabis products are legal, 65% of Gen Z survey respondents smoke marijuana and 51% consume cannabis-infused beverages, Technomic reported in its Adult Beverage Planning Program.

Most of this consumption takes place at home, but 38% of Gen Zers would visit a marijuana lounge or club to partake of the products. Visiting a bar or restaurant for a drink and/or food edges out that number at 41%, but the margin is thin.

The majority of millennials (65%), the next generation up, is more likely to patronize bars and restaurants, as these establishments are an important part of how they socialize, according to the survey. But that socialization benefit drops to 58% for the younger crowd.

Even as the rest of Gen Z reaches legal drinking age, they may be looking for different experiences when they go out. At casual-dining restaurants, a relaxed atmosphere and the price of the drinks are top considerations, with sanitation standards coming in third. And they are more likely to choose beer, cocktails and mixed drinks over wine.

Younger consumers also seem to be more spontaneous, meeting friends or family for informal get-togethers, Technomic found. Drink specials and promotions can be a competitive advantage—giving Gen Z a reason to leave the couch and gather in a bar or restaurant.

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