What Does Generation Z Want From The Events And Experience Industry?

As the world begins to open up again and events and experience companies can finally start getting back to business, we look at what generation Z is looking for from the entertainment industry. UK-based PR company, Full Fat, have released an insightful study into generation Z and the experience sector and there are some notable trends to watch out for.

  1. Alcohol, events and generation Z

    Having become known as the ‘moderation generation’, the British drinking culture seems less prominent in gen Z. However, still more than half are still consuming alcohol at events so it’s not yet a widespread rejection. 54% plan to get drunk at events and 32% drink alcohol three or more times per week. Although this may seem high, it is lower than previous generations and there is generally a commitment amongst younger people to live healthier lifestyles.

    What does this mean for the events sector?

    Whilst it may not be the time to go alcohol-free at your event, it’s worth considering the options available to non-drinkers. As with non-meat eaters who often check a menu before booking a meal out, non-drinkers are increasingly likely to choose experiences that offer better alternatives to drinking alcohol than bottled water. There’s money to be made in alcohol-free cocktails and AF beer and we’re increasingly seeing these options added to bar menus.
  2. Anonymity

Generation Z is set to be the most tracked people in history. With many venues demanding app downloads to get tickets, encouraging social media check-ins and practising remarketing it may appear that we’re accepting the need to be tracked. The data though, suggests not. 69% of those surveyed prefer events that do not collect their data. Whilst cashless is becoming more popular, it seems the younger generation is attracted to off-the-grid events and in pursuit of more authentic experiences.

What does this mean for events?

As digital marketing experts, we’re big advocates of data collection – it helps us learn more about customers and ultimately better serve their needs. However, the trend towards off-the-grid should not be dismissed and there are opportunities there. If you build it, as they say, they will come. What you must also do though is promote it. If 69% of generation Z are more attracted to experiences that don’t require them to hand over their data, then make sure you’re making this a central USP (unique selling point) in all your marketing.

  1. Being Present

Again, it’s a mistake to assume the generation brought in up the digital world are loyal to it. In fact, generation Z express a desire to be present. Perhaps it’s a natural reaction from a generation who grew up with parents on social media and using their phones more and more frequently. After all, one trend that never goes out of style is to rebel against the former generation. 89% of generation Z consider enjoying the actual experience more important than collecting images to post on social media.

What does this mean for events?

Selfie opportunities may not hold the same attraction for generation Z as they did for millennials. Likely to be further fuelled by the Covid-19 crisis and lockdowns, it’s becoming more important to younger people to be present in the moment rather than feeding their Instagram stories. In many ways, for the events industry, it will be about going back to basics – ensuring the authenticity of the experience is put before the optics. 

  1. Association With Activism

Political engagement is increasing in the younger generation and, as a result, social causes are driving how younger people chose to spend their disposable income. It’s not enough for this generation to be aware of injustices and environmental issues, they want to be a part of driving change. Whilst not everyone can be a full-time activist, generation Z are finding ways to support causes close to their hearts by incorporating activism into their daily lives. This goes beyond preferences for sustainable products and now includes attending events focused on raising awareness of political and social issues. In fact, 75% of generation Z are more engaged with Future Driven Collectives and 39% are attending a political event more than once per week.

What does this mean for events?

In the same way that consumers have been driving companies to improve their sustainability and ethical practices, they are expecting the same of their experiences. Events companies and experience designers need to be bold and brave in embracing values aligned with generation z, whether through their environmental campaigns or dedication to addressing inequality. Generation Z cares about where their money is going and, as purpose-driven consumers, they are seeking out more purpose-driven organisations to provide them with experiences that both entertain and serve the future of the planet.

5. Free Flow Events

84% of those surveyed had a preference for more fluid experiences with 37% wanting to stay only for one hour. Full Fat’s report strongly suggests that ticketed events where attendees are expected to stay for the duration are offputting for gen Z. Purely speculating, this could be the result of the digital era providing us instant information and entertainment on demand. However, knowing that authenticity is a priority for generation Z, it may also be about quality of experience over length. Full Fat’s report also tells us that a surprising 58% would be happy to fly solo when attending events and experiences.

What does this mean for events?

Again, this points to quality of experience over length. However, there’s no suggestion that generation Z are rejecting long-running events. What they are requesting is the option to come and go as they please. With feedback being that some feel they’ve gotten all they can out of an experience in the first hour. Therefore, fluidity may be key in events planning. Naturally shorter events or the staggered entry and exit times may affect entry cost but could provide opportunities to reach larger audiences.