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How to Match Beverages to Generations

Each generation has distinct beverage preferences. Here’s how to customize your offerings to meet their unique preferences.

It’s been said that each generation defines itself through what it likes to drink. And then there’s the youngest generation of consumers today, Gen Z, which has gained notoriety for what it generally prefers not to drink, mostly alcoholic beverages.

Of course, there’s more to Gen Z than being sober curious. Below we discuss this along with the favorite beverages of three more generations of consumers that may pick up your beverage menu.

Gen Z

Who they are: In their teens to late 20s.

What makes them unique: They consume 20% less alcohol per capita than prior generations.1 They’re also multi-cultural and open to trying beverages from all over the world.

Drinks they prefer: In a word, mocktails. They also enjoy drinks from other parts of the world, especially Latin America and Asia (Boba mocktails anyone?). And energizing beverages like coffee and tea will help fuel their marathon gaming sessions. And on those occasions when they do prefer alcohol, high-end gelatin shots can be a fun option.

How to reach them: Promote beverages on social media or in the metaverse. Gamified rewards programs and cause-based promotions will also get their attention.


Who they are: In their late 20s to early 40s.

What makes them unique: More than 90% of Millennials love trying new beverages. At last count, roughly three in five Millennials tried a new beverage within the past week. They also tend to be quite health conscious.

Drinks they prefer: Beverages to help with relaxation and mental health. In fact, 34% of older Millennials drink beverages that feature calming and relaxing claims.2 Teas, especially prepared with calming ingredients like turmeric, ginger, peppermint, or lavender, are good options.  

A frugal generation, they are always looking for value. So, drinks as small personal treats or rewards are among their favorites, including milkshakes, flavored coffees and cold brew, smoothies, hot chocolate, flavored lemonades, and slushies.3

How to reach them: More than half of Millennials (53%) look first to restaurants and foodservice locations to find new beverage options.4 And, since many Millennials are seeking out value in anything they purchase, promotions like reward clubs or drink-meal combos are especially appealing.

Gen X

Who they are: In their mid-40s to late 50s.

What makes them unique: Cautious but loyal, a third haven’t tried a new beverage in more than a month. However, they are quite loyal, with 74% enthusiastic about new food and beverage experiences away from home, particularly at restaurants they love.5  

Drinks they prefer: Flavored refreshers, such as iced tea and lemonades. And that extends to their preference for Long Island Iced Teas on the alcohol side.3 

How to reach them: They are equally split between grocery stores and foodservice when it comes to finding new drinks, so there’s some white space to bring in more Gen Xers. Quality and service is important and can lead to loyal Gen X customers for life.

Baby Boomers

Who they are: In their early 60s to late 70s.

What makes them unique: They have deep pockets and plenty of time to spare. “Boomers are a group to reconsider focusing on as they seem to be using their retirement money and time to indulge a passion for food,” noted Datassential, in its June 2023 report, “Shifting Preferences: Foods & Generations.”

Drinks they prefer: They are devoted coffee drinkers, when they’re not sipping a glass of wine, their alcoholic beverage of choice.3 

How to reach them: Ease them into new drink options in their favorite categories, such as new coffee styles or new flavors of iced tea or lemonade, along with crossovers like beer cocktails or watermelon water.

Sources: 1. Ipsos: Raising the Bar: Unlocking Alcohol Consumption Signals (2023). 2. Mintel: The Impact of Millennial Buying Trends on the Consumer Landscape (December 20, 2023). 3. Datassential: Consumer Preferences (April 2024). 4. Datassential: New Food Experiences for Millennials (March 2022). 5. Datassential: New Food Experiences for Gen X (March 2022).

The information provided is based on a general industry overview and is not specific to your business operation. Each business is unique, and decisions related to your business should be made after consultation with appropriate experts.

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