'How Dry We Are': Gen Z Forsakes Liquor

As many of us take part in Dry January, it’s worth considering how Gen Z is forsaking alcohol.

A new study in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that Gen-Zers are forgoing risky behaviors more than their elders. The study blamed (credited?) more supervised in-person socializing for the trend. The study also pointed out that in the developed world, adolescent smoking, drinking, underage sex and juvenile crime declined dramatically between the late 1990s and 2015.

Earlier studies have echoed the trend. A 2020 University of Michigan study found that fewer college-aged Americans drink alcohol compared with the same age group 20 years ago. A 2018 study by Berenberg Research, found that Gen Z were drinking 20% less than millennials, who drank less than baby boomers and Gen-Xers did at the same age.

The trend isn’t uniformly positive. The University of Michigan study found that the number of young adults using marijuana and co-using alcohol and marijuana, has increased.



But assuming that younger consumers are turning their backs on alcohol, that’s one reason for the rise in non-alcoholic booze-like drinks.

Budweiser Zero made its debut in 2020 and the launch was well-timed, since total dollar sales of non-alcoholic drinks were up 20.6% tyear-over-year from August 2021 to August 2022, per Nielsen IQ. Non-alcoholic beers made up 85.3 percent of that figure. IWSR Drinks Market Analysis also found that sales of low- and no-alcohol beverages grew by more than 7% in 10 global markets in 2022, surpassing $11 billion in market value. That was up from $8 billion in 2018.

If current trends continue, for many it won’t just be a dry January, but a dry year and a dry future.

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