Shrewd youth seek out value

Young drinkers demand quality serves and established brands

‘SAVVY’ was a word used by more than one drinks firm when describing today’s young adults in the on-trade.

With less disposable income than some older drinkers, young adults are seeking out value without sacrificing on quality, drinks firms claimed.

It means operators will have to get their offer right if they want to attract younger drinkers to their outlet.

Simon Green, marketing director at Global Brands, the firm behind VK and Corky’s, said young adult consumers are becoming “increasingly savvier”, expecting more for their money when they head out.

“Over the years, students and young adults have become more selective when it comes to parting with their money,” said Green.


Young adults are visiting the on-trade less often than previous generations, but spending more when they do, according to Green, and this has an impact on which products operators should be stocking.

Green said young adults are looking for “sweet tasting, easy drinking liquid in a premium format” and highlighted shared fishbowls and pitchers as examples of this.

“Shared serves are increasingly popular due to the ever-increasing choice of flavours thanks to quality brand innovation,” said Green.

As well as premium drink formats, young adult consumers seek out recognisable brands, said Green, suggesting publicans stock “a range of core RTD products” whilst also stocking variants of flavour.

“Consumers tend to try new flavours of brands they already know, therefore it makes sense to stock new flavours alongside core products,” he said.

Debs Carter, marketing director at SHS Drinks, the firm behind WKD, agreed on the importance of brands to young adult drinkers, stating recognised brands are “central to their lifestyle” and so stocking best-sellers “is essential”.

There’s an opportunity to boost margins for publicans who get this right, according to Carter.

“Depending on life-stage and employment status, [a young adult’s] disposable-income might sometimes be limited, but their appetite for great nights out certainly isn’t and they favour brands which reflect their lifestyle,” she said.

“Young adults are shrewd enough to work out which brands are most deserving of their cash and they will opt for premium offerings if the brand has worked hard enough to earn their interest.”

Like Green, Carter stressed the importance of premium serves to young adults and described RTD-based cocktails as “probably one of the biggest drinks trends we’ve seen amongst young adult consumers in recent years”.

“It’s a trend which provides excellent on-trade opportunities as RTD cocktails offer good incremental margins, are a great way to up-sell, and bring a sense of fun to proceedings,” added Carter.

And outlets can be rewarded for showing a little creativity, according to Ian Peart, on-trade director at Pernod Ricard, the firm behind Malibu and Absolut vodka.

Peart said young adults are “searching for new and exciting on-trade experiences”.

He suggested outlets introduce “shot rituals” to transform the serve into a “new experience” by using flavoured vodkas and fruit wedges topped with sugar.

Using such serves can create “serve envy”, according to Peart, who claimed over half of consumers will buy a drink that ‘looks interesting’.

He also stressed the importance of using the correct glassware in order to promote simple serves and highlighted bottle-to-table serves as “an increasing trend in premium venues”.