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Gen Z Is Drinking Less at Concerts

Particularly impacting smaller venues

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Close-up of hands toasting in beer, at festival
Photo via Getty Images

    Members of Gen Z (the age group born between 1997 and 2012) are drinking noticeably less at concerts, and it’s impacting smaller venues, Billboard reports.

    Gen Z’s reduced consumption of alcohol is hurting a key revenue stream for many venues that already have slimmer profit margins. David Slutes, who serves as the entertainment director at the 325-capacity Club Congress in Tucson, noticed a 25% difference in money spent on alcohol compared to older generations.

    “Coming out of COVID-19, everything about the live music business was turned upside down,” Slutes told Billboard. “We weren’t sure why the numbers were like this. Then we did a deeper dive, and at every event aimed at a Gen Z crowd, we saw numbers that were very different.”

    President/CEO Dayna Frank of First Avenue Productions, a concert venue and promotion business in Minneapolis, noted the same behavior while speaking at the Music Biz conference in Nashville. “One of the big trends we’re seeing is that Gen Z doesn’t drink as much,” she said. “They’re either eating edibles before they come or there’s more of a sober, mental health [focus]… Most of the ticket price goes on to the band, so really what [venues] subsist on is beverages. That’s not going to be a sustainable revenue stream.”

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    This all falls in line with a 2020 study conducted by Texas State University professor of psychology Ty Schepis, which found that 28% of college students from ages 18 to 22 abstained from alcohol in 2018, compared with 20% in 2002. Meanwhile, alcohol abuse in the same age range was cut in half in the same time period.

    In an interview with Billboard, Schepis added that Gen Z tends to drink less than older generations, but also noted that “this is a continuation of a trend.” However, marijuana use has increased from 33% to 37% among college students.

    Other small venue operators like Mikey Wheeler, the general manager of Austin’s Mohawk, have seen an overall drop in alcohol sales, which he says is “not even just from Gen Z, but from our older audiences as well.”

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    With insurance and labor costs rising, small venues are facing pressure to make up for the lost revenue, whether it’s increasing non-alcoholic offerings, pushing venue merch, or looking into CBD-infused drinks. Read the full report at Billboard.

    At Consequence, we’re doing our part to highlight local venues with our Hometowns of Consequence initiative. Nominate your favorite small venue and learn more here.

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