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Winning the Student Opportunity

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September sees the start of a new university year, bringing with it a new generation of 'freshers' across the UK.

Many of Gen-Z - that's those born after 1997 - turned 18 during or around lockdowns and, as such, have formed different drinking habits from those that came before. For most freshers, their first experiences with alcohol since turning 18 have probably been at home, drinking with and what their parents have.

With Freshers Week looming, we explore what some of these new drinking habits might mean for venues hoping to target students and hope to inspire with some fresh takes on classic student drinks.

What is Freshers Week?

Freshers Week is often a rite of passage for those making their first steps into student life.  A busy ‘welcome week’, its purpose is to give new students the opportunity to settle in and make new friends through things such as social events and fairs.

Following the restrictions & lockdown of 2020, freshers’ events will be taking place in person once again this year. For many new students, this week will provide opportunities for new, exciting experiences that go beyond having a drink with mum and dad.

Drinking Habits of Gen-Z

A lack of occasions to drink and not enjoying drinking at home caused 43% of 18-24-year-olds to decrease their alcohol consumption* over the last year. But for those who have enjoyed drinking at home, they’ve been introduced to higher quality, more premium drinks due to drinking whatever mum and dad have on offer, which has led them to develop a more expensive taste.

“We were surprised to see that new students were ordering more premium style drinks at the bar – like Tia Maria which is completely not what you’d expect a student to drink! I think drinking with parents in lockdown means they’ve developed a more expensive taste.” – Lucy, Events Coordinator, Bath University SU.

However, young adults experiencing their first tastes of freedom away from home are keen to get out to the on-trade. Many are seeking drinks and experiences they can’t get at home, with 45% likely to try new venues and 34% have said they will order drinks they can’t make at home.

A ‘Fresher’ Take

Although some feel that this year’s influx of new students has experienced a taste of the finer things when it comes to alcohol, the cost of student living remains expensive. Value for money and promotions/discounts are among the top five drivers for choice of venue among 18-24-year-olds, according to PROOF Insight

We expect that the desire for a cheaper night out will still be king among the student population, but it’s good for venues to acknowledge this change in usual habits.  We’ve got some inspiration below for some “fresher” takes on student classics:

Fruit Ciders

Fruit ciders are a popular choice among younger people and fruit variants now account for 40% of Cider volume on-trade! Magners Dark Fruits is a popular choice among the younger crowd. Meanwhile, Orchard Pig Pink is a refreshing rose cider that is pink in colour, hitting the mark for the rising trend for pink drinks.

Pink Drinks

WKD is always a solid choice amongst students and this iconic brand is making sure it continues to reach its younger audience through new flavour combinations. For example, WKD Pink – a pink gin flavour with hints of raspberry.

Flavoured Gin

Flavoured gin, notably pink gin, accounts for 45% of growth in the category. Didsbury offer a selection of flavoured gins – their Strawberry & Sicilian Lemon Gin offers the perfect mix of citrus & sweet. Or how about Beefeater’s Peach & Raspberry Gin, delicious when paired with Fever Tree White Grape & Apricot Soda

Prosecco

Prosecco is still a popular go-to as it is affordable and accessible for those who love bubbles. Hit the mark with Bottega Gold Prosecco - this Instagrammable bottle is both eye-catching and show the quality & care that goes into producing this wine, making it perfect for students looking for something premium & glam.

Cocktails

Grab those of Gen-Z who are planning to try drinks they can’t make at home with some tasty cocktails. Lockdown Liquor & Co create fantastic small-batch premium blended cocktails – perfect for those who wish for a taste of the finer things! Their ‘Torino’ is a twist on a classic Negroni. Gin is replaced with Vodka and Juniper water, with sweet and bitter notes from rosemary syrup and Campari.

These are just a few ideas we hope to inspire for student-friendly drinks as we edge closer to Freshers Week. Find more on https://www.matthewclarklive.com.

We’re looking forward to seeing the return of Freshers Week events, student nights and the antics that occur!

*Stats taken from research conducted by PROOF Insight.

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About the author

Mary McCarron

Mary works in digital marketing for Matthew Clark. After a couple of years working in tech, she found her way back to the hospitality industry and can now be found talking all things cocktails, spirits, beer, softs and more across our website and social media.

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