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Google searches for Dry January up 35% on last year as Gen Z knuckles down with no and low

Published:  31 January, 2019

Low and no alcohol serves can no longer be seen as “the poor cousin at the back of the bar” a number of industry experts agreed when faced with the question of what to do about the most teetotal generation in living memory.

How to start conversations with the next generation of drinkers was a key topic of discussion last night based on a new report which aimed to show how the behaviour of Gen Z (18-24 year olds) compares with older generations when they were the same age.

Unlike their Gen X counterparts in the 36-55 age group, the report found that Gen Z  a quarter of which are teetotal  drinks on fewer occasions per week, and significantly smaller amounts.

Steve Looney, research director, at Opinium which co-penned the report, said with both generations, there is still a “strong link with socialising and fun, but there is a clear difference in behaviour, and the key to that is social media.”

The report found that around two-thirds of Gen Z feel they are the most scrutinised generation in history, with the need for a squeaky clean image on Instagram and a prioritisation for work leading to requests for dry dorms springing up at universities across the country.

“This is most exposed generation in history,” said Jono McConnell, senior planner at Red Brick Road, which commissioned the research. “They’re aware of their image as social currency. Anything that can give them a competitive edge or an advantage for a job or a university place counts as motivation: and that could be more money in their bank account from not spending it on alcohol or not losing the weekend to a hangover.”

The results are reflected at Google, where ‘Dry January’ searches jumped by 35% in 2019 compared to last year.

This is a significant jump compared to around three to four years ago, when searches for the term were flat.

Likewise, 48% of bar managers have seen increased demand for mocktails and non-alcoholic spirits in their bars, according to the Opinium / Red Brick report.

As host, Financial Times drinks editor Alice Lascelles said, “Seedlip has kicked the door down for low and no alcoholic spirits”.

However, quality is still largely sub par in the low and no category  moreso when it comes to wine over spirits. Beer is certainly leading the way, with Heineken praised by the panel for it’s NPD and marketing.

The thrust of the report was that there is plenty of opportunity for the trade to captialise on this growing section of the market.

“Going to Harrods’ recently opened vegetable butchery is an interest re-training exercise in what is ‘normal’,” McConnell said. “Just like it’s no longer good enough to give vegans in a restaurant a bowl of kale, the low and no alcohol offering can no longer be a poor cousin that’s hidden away at the back of the bar. It's not going to take over, but it's important. More care is definitely needed.”