Gen Z Is Drinking Significantly Less Alcohol, Forcing Live Music Venues to Adapt

In a surprising trend, Gen Z concert-goers are consuming significantly less alcohol, causing concerns for smaller venues and their revenue streams.

As the live music industry recovers from the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, venue operators are grappling with the implications of reduced alcohol sales among the younger generation.

Industry professionals have noticed a stark difference in alcohol spending between Gen Z and older generations. David Slutes, the entertainment director at Tucson’s Club Congress, observed a 25% decline in alcohol revenue when catering to Gen Z crowds.

Dayna Frank, President/CEO of First Avenue Productions in Minneapolis, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that non-alcoholic alternatives and merchandise sales alone are unlikely to sustain venues in the long run.

This shift aligns with a 2020 study conducted by Texas State University, revealing that alcohol abstinence among college students aged 18 to 22 increased from 20% in 2002 to 28% in 2018. Concurrently, alcohol abuse within the same age range was halved. Professor Ty Schepis, one of the study’s authors, noted that Gen Z not only drinks less but also continues a broader trend of declining alcohol consumption seen in previous generations.

The repercussions are evident across multiple venues. Mikey Wheeler, the general manager of Austin’s Mohawk, observed a decline in alcohol sales not only among Gen Z but also among older concert-goers. Rising insurance and labor costs compound the pressure on smaller venues to compensate for lost alcohol revenue by exploring alternatives such as CBD-infused drinks, expanding non-alcoholic offerings, and prioritizing venue merchandise.

However, it is worth noting that overall alcohol sales have been down, regardless of age, potentially influenced by factors such as genre preferences and the financial constraints faced by concert attendees. As the industry searches for solutions to sustain profitability, venues must adapt to the evolving preferences of their audience, balancing the need for diverse revenue streams while maintaining an inclusive and vibrant concert experience.