Gen Z college students take healthy choices seriously when reaching for beverages. A survey from industry consultants Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) and Fluent, a college marketing and insights agency, found practicality and natural products are preferred, while artificial ingredients and crazy fads are out of favor. Bottled water is the top beverage purchase for this age group, with 43 percent who consume this product seven or more times per week. Other preferred drinks include: iced or hot coffee (22 percent), brewed tea (12 percent), and beer (nine percent). The survey found key beverage purchase drivers for Gen Z include what is on the label and recommendations from friends. Students read labels; 43 percent do so regularly and 38 percent do so at least sometimes. The top three descriptors influencing purchase are “all-natural” (52 percent), “low-calorie” (37 percent), “organic” (36 percent), “vitamin-enhanced” (31 percent), and “zero-calorie” (27 percent).
Around half of all students said they try to avoid artificial sweeteners, flavoring, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup. The sweetener they are most accepting of is cane sugar (55 percent). What are the top reasons they try beverages? Students said recommendations from friends (52 percent), health benefits (49 percent), free samples (37 percent), interesting flavors (36 percent) and sale/promotions (25 percent). With regard to alcohol, 74 percent of respondents said they consume alcohol and 81 percent of those drink beer on occasion. Asked what they prefer most, beer had a slight edge, followed by wine and spirits. When it comes to mixers, students reach first for soda (37 percent), then juice (35 percent), followed by seltzers (10 percent).