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2023 Gen Z drinking trends

Cannabis-infused water
Elsa Olofsson/Unsplash
Sep 06, 2023 By WGSN Insider
Food & Drink

WGSN helps the world’s biggest brands ensure they understand the wants and needs of their future consumer. With Gen Z (1997-2012) coming of drinking age, how will this ethnically diverse, wellness-minded, environmentally and socially conscious generation prioritise their spending power?

Here at WGSN Food & Drink, our global experts showcase the foresight and direction that will inspire new products that cater to this generation in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink categories.

At 2.5 billion, Gen Z is now the world’s largest cohort, accounting for a third of the global population, with a huge influence on future product development. Our Food & Drink team have outlined the essential trends required to cater to this cohort of the future:

1. Mood-lifting alcohol alternatives
2. Functional thirst quenchers
3. Digital drinks
4. Conscious consumption
5. Diverse global flavours
6. Better boba drinks

Today, we’ll give you a sneak peek of one of the six trends: Mood-lifting alcohol alternatives. To explore the other five key trends and learn how to action them for your business strategy, request a free personalised tour and one of our experts will be in touch to find a day and time that works for you and your team.

Cannabis-infused canned drink
Elsa Olofsson/Unsplash

Mood-lifting alcohol alternatives

Concerns about health and their social image have driven Gen Z to embrace a more sober-curious lifestyle and to seek out other mood-supportive products, creating a huge opportunity for drink brands to create solutions that fit into everyday lifestyles. Concerned about their wellbeing and the impact of alcohol on their mood, mental health and alertness, Gen Zers are drinking less alcohol than the generations before them. The rise of mood food and alcohol-free drinks is tapping into this alcohol-alternative consumer.

Younger drinkers are turning to CBD-infused drinks and beverages containing adaptogenic ingredients and non-hallucinogenic psychedelics that give the same social aspect and mood-boost as alcohol without its intoxicating effects. Innovators are tapping into functional ingredients like ashwagandha, GABA, magnesium, l-theanine and melatonin in relaxing booze-free drinks.

Handcrafted CBD cocktail
Justin Aikin/Unsplash

Non-intoxicating cannabidiol-enhanced beverages have also taken off as an alternative to alcohol. In California, startups like AMASS and Pamos offer zero-proof cannabis spirits that blend THC, CBD, Delta-8 and cannabis-derived plant terpenes for flavour and mind-mellowing effect. Following its launch in 2021, US-based Psychedelic Water made waves among Gen Z on social media with its legal psychedelic drink containing kava root. Such brand-led destigmatisation opens a white space for product innovation in the psychedelic drinks space that tap into other psychotropic herbs like kratom, kanna and blue Clitoria.

If you are a WGSN subscriber, read the Key Trend 2023: Gen Z Drinks report now. If you are not a WGSN member and you’ve been left hungry for more request a free personalised tour and one of our experts will be in touch to find a day and time that works for you and your team.

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