Gen Z, including people born between 1997 and 2012, is really the first generation to grow up fully immersed in online technology and culture. As a result, they’re incredibly comfortable conducting product research online.

Interestingly, though, they’re more likely to research brands and products remotely and then shop in-store, perhaps to enjoy a more fulfilling experience. 

What are they looking for? They prefer brands that align with values like health, wellness, sustainability, and authenticity, and when it comes to beverages, they seem to appreciate both convenience and immersive, shareable experiences. 

Which Gen Z beverage trends should those in manufacturing and service industries have on their radar?


Flavored Water

Some people are old enough to remember when Tab was the only diet cola option on the market, followed by Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke. Gen Z doesn’t fit in this category. These days, the choices are almost endless, with sugar-free, zero-calorie formulas in high demand.

Consumers not only want healthier products but flavorful options to rival their favorite soft drinks. Gen Z, in particular, seems to be partial to flavored waters that include vitamins and minerals. They want beverages that are not only delicious but functional.


RTD Products

Recent decades have seen a growing market for ready-to-drink (RTD) products. In addition to the mass popularity of canned cocktails, which spiked during the pandemic, options like sports drinks and cold, bottled coffee and tea have struck a chord with the younger generation. 

Like flavored water, these products seem to hold special appeal for Gen Z, and manufacturers have taken notice and started to offer products that target this generation’s desire for healthful, sustainable foods and beverages that align with their values and sensibilities.


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Sports Drinks

With Gen Z’s attraction to RTD beverages, it should come as no surprise that brands are gearing sports drinks toward these young consumers. Consider Local Weather, a team-up between NFL quarterback Russell Wilson and VaynerSports CEO AJ Vaynerchuk.

The idea behind the launch of this line was to recognize and cater to a generation that links athleticism to a host of non-traditional sports like pickleball, roller skating, and jump rope, for example. 

With a coconut water base, electrolytes, minimal sugar, a focus on nootropics and adaptogens, and sustainable, resealable aluminum packaging, this company has the Gen Z vibe on lockdown.



It’s not hard to see why RTD coffee is popular among Gen Z consumers; it’s a quick, convenient way to get flavorful, caffeinated beverages while skipping long lines at coffee shops and avoiding the hassle and cleanup of making coffee at home. 

According to the “Coffee and RTD Coffee 2021” report from marketing intelligence agency Mintel, an estimated 60% of Gen Z consumers choose RTD over fresh-brewed coffee.


Related: The Dry Movement Among Millennials and Gen-Z



While it seems that Gen Z might not be as keen on traditional RTD teas as older generations, they do seem to gravitate toward fruity bubble teas featuring a tea base, chilled milk or juice, boba (tapioca pearls), and a smoothie-like consistency. Taste, texture, and visual appeal could all be factors.


3-Layered Bevs

Gen Z is quick to jump on social media trends, and layered cocktails are no exception. While concoctions like tequila sunrises and B-52s are nothing new, the younger generation has latched onto the visual appeal of these Insta-worthy beverages and made them a hit across social media platforms. 

Among the most popular are tropical recipes like the rainbow paradise, the Bob Marley, and the layered mermaid, along with small sippers like the cotton candy shot and, unsurprisingly, the tequila sunrise shooter.


Capitalize on the Gen Z Market

With a notable proclivity for flavored waters, RTD beverages, and cocktails that aren’t just tasty but tailor-made for social media sharing, Gen Z isn’t hard to please. Bars, retailers, and beverage manufacturers that get on board have a growing market to tap into as this generation continues to come of age and drive consumer trends.


To best appeal to Gen Z, companies would benefit from staying fresh and dynamic with all food, beverages, and flavors. To learn more about our Gen Z initiative, contact us HERE.

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