In a world riddled with economic uncertainties, the dining industry is undergoing a remarkable transformation, propelled by Gen Z’s insatiable appetite for unique experiences and penchant for affordable, small indulgences.
Gen Z, the largest and most diverse generation with a staggering spending power of $360 billion, craves diversity and personality in their dining experiences. In the post-pandemic world, Gen Z is emerging with a fervent desire for experiences that go beyond the ordinary or offer a respite from the daily grind.
Unique beverages fit the bill perfectly. Craft drinks are a gateway for exploration and indulgence on a budget. Artisanal lemonades, cold brew coffee, Boba tea are no longer niche treats — they’re the drinks defining Gen Z’s dining experience.
A new report from Botrista, whose DrinkBots automate the production of upscale craft beverages, shows that it’s not just about the drink itself. For a generation who views food and beverage as part of their identity, specialty options are an opportunity for self-expression and indulgence. More than “social lubrication,” as Natalie Battaglia, influencer and founder of The Mindful Mocktail, calls them, drinks have become not only social catalysts but also a healthful indulgence. According to analysis firm Cassandra’s 2022 survey, more than half of Gen Zers believe that what they eat is indicative of who they are as a person.
Interestingly, these new craft beverages do not seem to cannibalize sales of old favorites. For example, a California rice bowl concept witnessed a remarkable 59% surge in sales of carbonated soft drinks after it introduced premium craft beverages made by Botrista’s DrinkBots. Similarly, a New York-based Mediterranean concept experienced a 14% increase in carbonated soft drink sales after it introduced Botrista’s DrinkBots. The report found that craft beverages prompt additional customers to order beverages and that this, in turn, prompts other people in the same group to order beverages as well. So even traditional carbonated soft drinks benefit.
So restaurants have a chance to capitalize. By expanding drink menus with beverage experts and technology, they can cater to the adventurous Gen Z palate while keeping loyal customers happy. They can increase appeal and sales opportunities for legacy beverages as craft drinks become their partners in attracting and engaging this new cohort of consumers.
As a testament to this transformative shift, the National Restaurant Association projects the food service industry to reach $997 billion in sales for 2023. This figure represents a remarkable 11% increase compared to 2022 and a significant leap from the $789 billion recorded in 2021. In order to capture a slice of this growth, restaurant owners must understand the unique needs and relationship Gen Z has with dining.
The traditional beverage industry now stands at the threshold of a craft drink revolution. Specialty options invite a new generation to enjoy conventional soft drinks as part of a personalized, social experience. The trend is clear: creatively blending traditional and artisanal drinks is the recipe for success.
As we move forward, the culinary world is not only surviving but thriving, driven by the insatiable thirst of Gen Z for exceptional experiences, memorable moments, and craft drinks that tell their stories. In this world where the market may be uncertain, one thing remains clear – the future of dining is vibrant and innovative, and it’s served in a glass. So, let’s raise a glass to a world where craft beverages are keys to unforgettable experiences and shared moments!