From Beer To Bud, Why Gen Z is Drinking Less Alcohol

Emerald Nwanne

Generation Z is growing older, and the trend of younger consumers drinking less alcohol has continued to solidify. With 57% of all consumers already consuming less alcohol, it’s not surprising to see Gen Z consumers leading the way.

With a bigger focus on mental health, younger consumers are recognizing the negative impact alcohol can have on their well-being, leaving them looking for new ways to unwind. While some might attribute this to a rise in health consciousness, the data shows mental health concerns are also at play.


Gen Z is drinking less for their mental health

As the first generation of digital natives, Gen Z grew up with social media and technology. They are more connected than any generation before them, and this has shaped their behavior and expectations for everything from shopping to socializing. Access to online content on the effects of alcohol has made Gen Z particularly aware of how drinking can negatively impact their lives.

The latest Evergi Wellness Trends report notes that younger consumers are cutting back on drinking for mental health and general wellness reasons. The most common responses Gen Z gave for reducing alcohol consumption include:

  •     Trying to be healthier

  •     Trying to decrease anxiety & depression

  •     Working on mental health

  •     Trying to save money

While these reasons were fairly standard across age groups, certain responses stood out as specific to Gen Z. As Gen Z enters the workforce, economic concerns are becoming top of mind for them. A large number (40%) of 21-23 year olds said they were trying to save money by not drinking as much—the highest percentage within the survey sample.

Gen Z is also the first generation to come of age while mental health is a top-of-mind issue. In fact, Evergi data found that a whopping 71% of Gen Z is actively focused on improving their mental health as opposed to 45% of baby boomers. Additionally, younger people who say they’re drinking less are much more likely to list anxiety or depression as a reason for doing so.


Gen Z and Baby Boomers focused on improving health

Gen Z is taking mental health seriously

Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to prioritize improving their mental health. In fact, a third of Gen Z reports mental health issues as their main cause of stress over other concerns such as work, physical appearance, or relationships. This is a huge jump from previous generations, where less than one-fifth of consumers list mental health concerns as a main source of stress. Gen Z’s increased awareness of mental health issues plus the stressful world we live in have caused them to emphasize improving their own well-being.

This generation is also more likely to take active steps to improve their mental health. Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to seek out mental health support in the form of therapy or counseling. Gen Zers use therapy and counseling to manage stress at almost double the rate for Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. Gen Z is also more likely to use cannabis, CBD, and other supplements to relieve stress or improve their overall well-being. 


Gen Z is replacing alcohol with cannabis

In addition to using cannabis products to improve their mental health, younger consumers are also turning to these products as an alternative to alcohol. According to the latest Evergi Wellness Trends reports, Gen Zers are using cannabis as a replacement for alcohol. Of consumers that said they were drinking less, about a third of Gen Zers are reaching for cannabis as their primary alcohol substitute. 

Younger consumers are also drinking soda and sparkling water to reduce their alcohol consumption. Surprisingly, these consumers are not jumping on the CBD beverage or alcohol-free beverage trains. Only 11% of Gen Z'ers are drinking CBD beverages compared with 15% of millennials.


Millennials follow similar trends to Gen Z

Despite being older, millennials tend to follow many of the same trends as Gen Z. Consumers between the ages of 30-34 are also reaching for cannabis and soda as a replacement for alcohol. However, unlike their Gen Z counterparts, they are also leaning into tobacco, CBD beverages, and other CBD products.

Millennials are cutting down on alcohol to improve their mental health at a similar rate as Gen Z, but the majority of these consumers cite “trying to be healthier” as their main reason for drinking less. Millennials are also more likely to say they’re drinking less because they were drinking too much in the past, whereas Gen Z is more likely to be trying to reduce anxiety or depression. 


Members of Generation Z, with more than 40 million in the United States alone, are one of the largest consumer segments across the globe. As Gen Z ages into young adulthood, they will become a major force in the economy. With their unique set of values, Gen Z is reshaping the way people drink.

Published: 2/7/2023