September sees the start of a new university year, bringing with it a new generation of 'freshers' across the UK.
Last year we found that many of Gen-Z - that's those born after 1997 - who turned 18 during or around lockdowns had formed different drinking habits from those that came before. For most freshers, their first experiences with alcohol since turning 18 had 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. 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.” – Events Coordinator, Bath University SU (2021)
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 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 or the Magner Rose Cider taps into the current trend for pink drinks and spritzes!
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.
There's no doubt that the majority of students still enjoy a pint of the good stuff. Tap into the desire for something a bit more premium and a bit more luxury with world lagers such as the unique and refreshing Menabrea.
Flavoured gin, notably pink gin, accounts for 45% of growth in the category. Didsbury Gin offer a selection of flavoured gins – their Strawberry & Sicilian Lemon Gin offers the perfect mix of citrus & sweet. Or how about Beefeater's brand new Rhubarb & Cranberry flavour? A fantastic way to tap into the excitement of all things new among students.
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.
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 superb twist on the classic Negroni, where Gin is replaced with Vodka and Juniper water, with sweet and bitter notes from rosemary syrup and Campari. Their range of 1litre ready-to-drink cocktails also hit the mark in terms of speedy serves and value for money - perfect for students!
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.