Trends tend to shift with each generation, and that includes drinking habits. External circumstances can impact decisions on a generational level, as can the attitudes of the day. Social media has a significant influence on younger generations especially. The trends of alcohol consumption by generation are no different; they are unique to those considered to be Gen Z, Millennials, and Baby Boomers, as well Gen X and older consumers.
In 2021, there are six living generations, each with distinctly different characteristics. Of course, the generalized traits of each generation are just that – a profile based on how they tend to act, eat, and drink. A generation is defined roughly every 18 years, although some spans are a bit shorter.
The youngest generation today is called Generation Alpha. They were born between 2010 and the current date. Generation Z was born between 1996 and 2009; Millennials (or Gen Y) were born between 1977 and 1995; Generation X was born between 1965 and 1976; Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964; and the oldest generation alive today, the Silent Generation, was born before 1945.
The Younger Generation & the Social Media Effect
Some studies have found that the younger generations, particularly the Millennials and GenZers, are drinking less than their older counterparts. This is due in part to the fact that they fear what will happen when they lose control when drinking and how their actions will appear on social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.
These younger generations are concerned about their health as well, but are mainly influenced by a wider cultural shift that younger people have accepted as normal: that of being watched on social media. As a result, the sales of non-alcoholic beer and cocktails are on the rise.
In early 2019, it was reported that the sales of non-alcoholic beer have grown by 3.9% on average for the past five years, while beer sales overall have remained mostly flat. Non-alcoholic brews are now the fastest-growing segment in the beer industry.
Younger Generations Drinking Less
A 2018 report prepared by Berenberg Research found that GenZers around the world, along with their millennial counterparts, are drinking less than older generations did at their ages. The report also found that the Gen Z generation was drinking over 20% less per capita than millennials, and that the millennials were drinking less than Baby Boomers and the Gen X generation did at the same age.
The report also found that 64% of those respondents in Gen Z said they expected to drink alcohol less frequently when they grow older than the older generations do now. They cite health concerns, as well as concerns about hangovers and worries over how they will be judged when they drink.
A Different Type of Alcohol
The Berenberg Research report also found that members of Gen Z prefer spirits such as vodka or gin over wine or beer. That makes Gen Z the first generation of note to prefer other types of alcoholic drinks to beer. According to the researchers, the younger generations appear to appreciate the perceived quality of other options. They see beer, especially that produced by larger, national brands, as inauthentic and unappealing.
Baby Boomer Generation Trends
Contrasting with the younger generations, the baby boomers tend to enjoy their alcohol consumption much more than the generation that precedes them. Researchers have found a steady increase in alcohol use and binge drinking in the generation that is mostly comprised of individuals in the 65-plus demographic. It appears that many in the baby boomer generation have embraced the mistaken notion that moderate drinking is good for them.
There has also been an increase in alcohol use disorder, indicating mild, moderate, and severe abuse of alcohol. Binge drinking, which for men means consuming five or more drink in about two hours, has increased from 12.5 percent to 14.9 percent among the baby boomers, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Binge drinking accounts for about half of the 88,000 deaths caused by excessive drinking in the US annually.
COVID Increases by Generation
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol sales and consumption has increased significantly across all generations. In a study published in September 2020, a 54% increase in national sales of alcohol for the week ending March 21, 2020, was reported, as compared with 1 year before. Additionally, alcohol was consumed one day per month more by three out of four adults on average. The mean age of participants in the study was 56.6, with over half of the total participants in the 30-59 age range.
The trend is disturbing and could lead to dangerous consequences. In addition to the negative health implications of alcohol consumption itself, excessive alcohol use may also lead to or worsen mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, which may also be increasing because of the pandemic itself.
Gender-Specific Addiction and Mental Health Treatment
One of the unfortunate outcomes of the challenges of 2020 is a significant rise in drug and alcohol misuse. Additionally, more people than ever are battling anxiety and depression. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our programs and services. We offer gender-specific treatment for men who have a desire to turn their life around. Recovery is possible, and we can help.