In aisle discovery is key to engaging Gen Z drinkers

Insights from Numerator show that new strategies are needed to reach consumers who are still setting their own trends.

Beverage alcoholEven though the landscape for the beverage alcohol is changing among younger consumers, in-store remains the top source of brand awareness.

That is one of the insights from Numerator’s January study looking into reaching younger drinkers, which polled 600 Canadian Gen Z and millennial consumers.

According to the report, 64% of Gen Z respondents above legal drinking age find in-store a source of new beverage brand awareness, topping recommendations from friends and family (46%), seeing it consumed by friends and family (43%), social ads (39%) and TV spots (25%).

Numerator says it’s incumbent upon brands to engage and convert this younger cohort in a different way, as not only do four in 10 younger drinkers report being mindful of how they imbibe, three in 10 actively limit their intake part of a better for you movement that’s taken hold in that demo.

Plus, as Numerator consultant Gordon Cheung points out, Gen Z – despite relying more on retail environments for discovery – makes five fewer trips to buy booze annual than millennials do. Also, they have lower total spend , as well as a smaller customer: 86% of Gen Z have purchased alcoholic beverages, compared with 88% of millennial shoppers, which may seem like a small difference but which has an outsized impact, Cheung says.

Meanwhile, Gen Z has a higher preference for hard seltzers, RTD beverages and mixers over the traditional beer, wine and spirits. According to Cheung, consumers new to the market mean new strategies need to be put in place to engage and convert, given that the cohort is still setting their own trends.

For example, the cooler category is seeing explosive media spend growth, as is domestic and imported whiskey while traditional spirits like vodka, tequila and schnapps are seeing a decline (see, below).


According to Numerator, a far broader range of social platforms is required for the future to understand the evolving mindset.

Vanessa Obando, research manager at Numerator, says Gen Z consumers are seeking different experiences resulting in significantly different usage occasions. For example, they prefer hard seltzers for larger events, while millennials do so for smaller, more intimate gatherings. Millennials also associate wine and beer with larger, casual events.

Outside of alcohol, Gen Z is also “significantly more likely” to consume energy drinks, bubble tea and iced coffee. And while both generations consume bottled water, soda and packaged coffee in comparable amounts, Gen Z wants to feel productive and for beverages to offer nutritional or health benefits.

Both Gen Z and millennials make a liquor store a go-to location. However, according to Numerator insights, Gen Z is more likely to purchase product at a bar, and millennials during a grocery run.

Lastly, what both demos have in common is that they’re likely to change their spend, should inflationary pressures strike.