Is your night time business Gen Z ready? Preparing for the future consumer

10 Jul 2019

With higher expectations and differing desires to Millennials, the night time economy needs to take action to ensure the emerging population of Gen Z are interested in the nightlife around them.

As a night time manager or business owner, your future consumer is undoubtedly Generation Z. Currently aged between around 9 and early 20s, their significant influence on the economy has already begun. Sylvia Oates, Night Time Economy Solutions Director was asked to speak on this very topic at the ATCM Summer School event, #FutureConsumer. Here, we share some of her key insights, and top takeaways from it.

Gen Z traits

As a cohort, Generation Z follow on from Millennials – or Generation Y. They are the first generation to be wholly digital, having never experienced life without the internet. Social media is something they’ve grown up alongside and they have more global awareness than any previous generation, thanks to digital platforms giving them a host of international content and global communication options.

To help businesses capture the attention of Generation Z, we’ve considered the characteristics that most influence their time and spending patterns:


Gen Z are very mindful of their mental and physical health, and consider alcohol a threat to both. They are bombarded not just with official health campaigns, but by YouTube and Instagram vloggers and bloggers who influence their attitude to physical and mental health. They are far more likely to be exposed to an influencer sharing their exercise and healthy eating regime than to hear about a night of drunken antics – and people strive to replicate what they see.


One of the key findings in Red Brick Road’s report The Last Round? How To Engage the Next Generation of Mindful Drinks was that 75% of Generation Z wanted to be in control of every aspect of their life at all times. A tall order, but one that cannot be ignored when its importance was stated by the majority of those surveyed. This links back to health, with Gen Z likely to feel that taking as much control of their health as they can, is paramount. It is also a key driver for this generation drinking less than those before them – being drunk and out of control is not cool for Gen Zers.


Having not directly witnessed the recession like the Millennials did, Generation Z are less concerned about value for money. They’re also less likely to respond to overt online advertising than Millennials. The Red Brick Road report also found:

  • Gen Z consider quality more important than quantity, so in terms of drinking at a bar they would be more likely to choose one or two premium drinks such as cocktails, than be tempted by several poor-quality beverages.
  • There is a rise of stay-in socialising, so those working in the evening and night time industry need to offer experiences to Gen Z that can’t be replicated in the home.

Happy Hours and multi-buy drink offers are unlikely to appeal to this consumer group, who crave quality, unique experiences over cheap, common-place activities.  


Awareness of world issues is extremely high with Generation Z, thanks to digital platforms giving global visibility to issues ranging from plastic use to poverty. Gen Z care about the world, having a strong social conscience and a desire to make a difference. A 2017 Guardian article on Generation Z describes this as, “The world as they know it has been blighted by financial, economic and environmental turmoil and they want to make a change.”

A recent Engage for Good webinar found Generation Z are quick to voice support for trending online movements, such as #MeToo. Causes posted on digital platforms are easy for Gen Z to engage with and as native social media users, they’re well placed to spread support.

It’s therefore important for Gen Z to interact with businesses who demonstrate ethics and care for human rights and the environment, matching their worldview. This is far more likely to drive them to buy than the offer of cheap or convenient products and services.

Further education

The cost of going to university is higher than ever, and this impact is seen by the falling number of Gen Zers entering degree-level education. Around 41% of Gen Zers plan to become entrepreneurs, hoping to use their digital presence and desire for change by carving their own path.

Opportunities to engage Gen Z

Despite, or perhaps because of the near-constant exposure to celebrity and global trends, Generation Z is big on individuality.

A McKinsey report stated: “Gen Zers value individual expression and avoid labels. They mobilize themselves for a variety of causes. They believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world. Finally, they make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way.”

For night time managers, this means they are more likely to attract Gen Z customers by offering a place to visit that’s unique, or respects their uniqueness. They are attracted by visual, edgy marketing and activities or venues with a story behind them.

Club Watt in Rotterdam perfectly meets the above with their energy generating dance floor feature. Through dancing, the floor is depressed by 10mm which activates a small generator that produces up to 25 watts of electricity. The dance floor includes a digital display to tell dancers the amount of energy they’re producing, and how much is being stored.

There’s a real opportunity to get creative with events and theme evenings for night time businesses – from a gaming fundraiser to social meet-ups with a themed twist. Combining good deeds with interesting experiences, or offering something wholly different is key to engaging Gen Z.

Getting digital with Gen Z

While it may be Millennials who are responsible for the huge rise in promoting businesses through social platforms, Generation Z are true digital natives, and expect a seamless experience where they can combine on and offline communication as they socialise. 

Digital additions worth considering for businesses are:

  • Free, good-quality WiFi – this will become an essential for businesses, as anyone not offering this will not be chosen as a location for the ever-connected Gen Zs
  • An “Instagrammable” setting with wow-factor service or features
  • Interactive gaming opportunities
  • Unique or one-off experiences worthy of sharing online. For example, transforming an indoor space into a giant ball pit or inflatable zone

We believe the places that will succeed in holding the attention of Gen Z will be the ones who listen to their desires and aren’t afraid to take measured risks to act on them.

Our top suggestions are for towns or businesses to consider:

  • Offering opportunities within a town or organisation that align with the Gen Z desire to “do good.” For example, charity music events and volunteer opportunities, or a pop-up Energy Gym where working out generates the power needed for street lights.
  • The creation of workshops within the evening or night time economy for budding entrepreneurs. For example, accessible photography studios or the opportunity to sample design equipment.
  • Developing a youth council. As well as feeding back ideas on what could be done to make the area more appealing to younger people, a youth council could potentially help create events and initiatives to reach and engage more Gen Zers.
  • Offering free WiFi across the town or city centre. As something that can be implemented fairly simply, we believe this would be an easy win for making a night time area more attractive to Gen Z.

The Gen Z traits we’ve discussed have cropped up in findings and reports again and again. Businesses who can meet the needs of this emerging generation will be those thinking outside the box of traditional night time leisure patterns.

If you’re looking for development support for your night time business, city or town, feel free to contact us at Night Time Economy Solutions. You can call  Sylvia on 07504 973421 or Jo on 07734 255807 or email with any enquiries.

Written by the Night Time Economy Team ©2019 | Share this article link
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