Expert View

Generation Z expects….

MCCP The Planning Agency, a specialist strategic planning, innovation and research agency, studies human behaviour and translates it to business advantage for clients. Here, MCCP ’s Strategy Director Kathy Troy tells publicans about Generation Z and how to better understand them for the future of the pub.

The oldest of Generation Z are beginning to turn 18 now and as we begin to see their world view and preferences emerge, we know we’re dealing with an entirely new species.

For marketers that are still grappling with the egalitarian world view and confidence of Millennials and their close ties with family and social networks, Generation Z are hot on their heels to pose a whole range of new challenges.

As most of Generation Z are still coming of age the traits that will define them as a cohort are still not apparent but what we do know is what influences their worldview.


Digital natives

Generation Z are the real digital natives of our world. They’re the first to grow up in a wholly digital and connected world where information is available without actually having to ask anyone, tell anyone, or be embarrassed about anything.

Where Millennials are gadget-focussed Generation Z are information-rich.

Unlike their Millennial counterparts, Generation Z are an individualistic generation rather than a collective one. This means that instead of acting as one cohort we’ll see many micro-trends develop.

Alcohol may not form the centre point of their nights out as they’ll be looking for experiences in lots of different forms. This redefines the competitive set for pubs and venues.

It’s no longer the pub down the road that will compete for Generation Z’s attention, it’s all kinds of entertainment providers – whether there’s alcohol involved or not.

The drinks industry will have to develop distinctive and fragmented experiences to appeal to different members of this cohort.


Hospitality design

Interior design consultancy Newman Gauge specialises in leisure and hospitality design and has worked on tailoring pubs to target Generation Z.

Currently, Generation Zs have plenty of disposable time but limited disposable income.

But Newman Gauge has learned that pubs have to be more than price-sensitive to attract this cohort. They’re looking for an environment with an informal atmosphere and a social dining experience where they can congregate and interact offline.

Generation Z want places in which to socialise that are zoned so they can decide how to interact.

A great example of a venue in Dublin that’s doing this well is Xico in Baggot Street which is designed to flow seamlessly from restaurant to bar to nightclub as patrons move from one zone to another at their own pace.

This allows Generation Z the freedom to let the night evolve without having to constantly seek out new venues.

Bars seeking to attract the Generation Z crowd must accommodate the multiple modes of a night out for this cohort in a way that allows them to move between modes effortlessly.


Generation Z & brands

Another already-emergent trend involves brands helping Generation Z switch-off from this interconnected world, creating an analogue experience that helps them live in the moment and provides respite from the pressures of being always on.

Growing up in an online world, Generation Z is hard to impress but always seeks novel experiences. MCCP’s trend of ‘Mindful Unplugging’ is particularly pertinent to this generation.

They’re constantly plugged-in and experiencing the world through a screen. This brings its own pressures so brands that provide experiences rather than just venues and drinks are particularly popular.

HMV’s revival on the high street took advantage of this strategy and reversed the fortunes of a company that was losing out to digital by providing exactly the opposite.

Live unplugged gigs in-store now allow Generation Z to create memories and experiences in real time rather than just seeing the world through their device.

This break from technology, this foray into an analogue world is refreshing for this generation. Brands and venues that offer a break from the constant demands of their online world will be remarkable by the contrast and the relief they provide.


Contrasting venues

A clever way that many venues have adopted to this trend is by adopting a theme or environment that Generation Z may be aware of but have never experienced. This accounts for the revival of bars that look like leftovers from a different era.

One such venue in New York is The Dead Rabbit which offers a unique cocktail-quaffing experience. Here you can sip on an expertly-made Absinthe cocktail in 1920s surroundings but you can also be enticed to partake in bar-keeping classes.

Other venues adopting this strategy keep Generation Z interested by making them immerse themselves in experiences.

F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is next up for Ireland’s Film Fatale Group, hosting an event in the Irish Museum of Modern Art that meets this brief.

Guests are asked to “fix your feather-head piece and pop those braces” and hop into a vintage car to truly experience Gatsby’s Mansion.

For a generation who’s seen everything and has access to anything, the opportunity to experience something new is truly remarkable and one they embrace wholeheartedly.

Finally, Generation Z expect content and personalisation.


Complete relevance and stimulating content

They are data-rich creatures and have an expectation of complete relevance and stimulating content.

To recognise them, a venue needs to go beyond typical loyalty schemes – it must employ a truly personalised system that will recognise preferences and capture their attention in a visual and entertaining way.

To really engage with Generation Z, brands and venues will need to recognise that they’re a fragmented generation which desires lots of micro-experiences.

Venues will need to accommodate many different modes and zones to allow Generation Z to move fluidly from one experience in the night to another.


Unplug & partake in experiences

And finally, brands should not be afraid to challenge this generation to unplug and partake in experiences in which they can immerse themselves and create an analogue night out that transports them somewhere their devices never could.

Author Kathy Troylow For Further details please contact Kathy Troy, Strategy Director, MCCP The Planning Agency

Sign Up for Drinks Industry Ireland

Get a free weekly update on Drinks Industry trade news, direct to your inbox. Sign up now, it's free