WHADDL-IT-BE?... Bottled Water For GenZ College Students

A new survey from Beverage Marketing Corporation, a college marketing and insights agency, and Fluent, shows taste, convenience and nutrition are the top preferences among college students who are thirsty, with bottled water as the big winner. Taught to make healthy choices from a young age, Gen Z college students take that lesson seriously when reaching for beverages.

Practical and natural products are preferred, while artificial ingredients and crazy fads are likely to cue a collective eye roll, according to the survey from Beverage Marketing Corporation and Fluent, The survey of undergraduates offers clear direction, says the report, to those who make, distribute and sell beverages to Gen Z: “…keep it simple and know your niche… “

Michael Carey, Fluent EVP, says “… while they reach for water first, there are opportunities for other beverages to fill niche roles, if they know where to look…”

Michael Bellas, Beverage Marketing Corporation Chairman and CEO, notes that “…13.2% of Bottled Water Drinkers are aged 18 to 24… as Gen Z matures, there are exciting opportunities… to engage with these consumers in a positive way… reinforce strengths and create new experiences… “

Top Picks and Consumption Trends:

  • Bottled water is THE top beverage purchase; 43% consume it 7+ times per week
  • Coffee (hot or iced, not specialty) next at 22%
  • Brewed tea was third at 12% in that category, and then
  • Beer at 9%
  • Asked about future consumption, 42% plan to drink more bottled water and only 8% less of it, and 22% of students expect to drink more brewed tea, against 7% saying less
  • Soda is likely to continue its decline, with 33% planning to drink less against 3% to drink more

While they find bottled water tastes better than tap water, 59% try to fill up water bottles and/or use a filtered water system on a regular basis. Still, nearly 20% of students rely solely on bottled water over tap or filtered, for many of the same reasons bottled water scores over other non–alcoholic beverages: It’s healthier, more convenient and easier to find.

AudienceSCAN found the theme of health to be true as well. 53.7% of Bottled Water Drinkers set personal goals to eat healthier this year. Purchase decision drivers are “What’s On the Label, Friend Recommendations”:

  • Students read labels, 43% regularly and 38% at least sometimes. The top three descriptors influencing purchase are “all–natural” (52%), “low–calorie” (37%), and to a lesser extent, “organic” (36%), with “vitamin–enhanced” at 31% and “zero–calorie” at 27%
  • Around half of all students say they try to avoid artificial sweeteners, flavoring, preservatives, and high–fructose corn syrup. The sweetener they are most okay with is cane sugar (55%)
  • Students cite friends’ picks as the top reason they try beverages (52%), “healthy/good for you” (49%), free samples (37%), interesting flavors (36%) and sale/ promotions (25%)

Offering a coupon could be the way to get these Bottled Water Drinkers in stores, says the report. During the past 30 days, 46.4% have used the internet via browser, tablet or smartphone to find coupons or discount codes.

Habits by Select Categories

  • Sports drinks have clear roles, says the report; 37% of respondents drink them for hydration and recovery, 14% drink them for taste, and 13% to quench their thirst. They drink them most often while working out (54%) vs. before or after, to combat hangovers (46%), then because they are thirsty (45%)
  • Pick–me–up choices were campus classics, says the report. The top go–to beverage was coffee at 49%, and then brewed tea at 15%. Water tied for third at 13% with soda, which seems to be a key messaging opportunity for carbonated soft drinks, ahead of energy drinks (8%)

Alcohol Highlights

  • 74% of respondents say they do consume alcohol and 81% of those do drink beer on occasion. Asked what they prefer most, beer had a slight edge, with wine and spirits somewhat equal
  • When it comes to mixers, students reach first for soda (37%), and then juice (35%), followed by seltzers (10%)

For additional information, please visit Fluent or Beverage Marketing Corporation




2 comments about "WHADDL-IT-BE?... Bottled Water For GenZ College Students".
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  1. Anglyn Hays from Free Lance Writer Hire Me!, May 26, 2016 at 10:23 p.m.

    What ever we do, let's blame the bottled water disaster of the past 30 years on those college students.  After all, young people are the biggest drain on the world after fungus.  Bottled water was a baby boomer financial bonanza so we all got a look at bottled water.  Young people today are looking for something else.  I have laid my bets there so I am a committed advocate of the Millennials.  Shoot me at your leisure. 

  2. Anglyn Hays from Free Lance Writer Hire Me! replied, May 26, 2016 at 10:25 p.m.

    but, make sure I am well hydrated least my lifespan be shortened, lol.

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