Games Versus Drinking


According to market research expert Mintel, Gen Z consumers who opt for and are more frequently choosing a low-to-no alcohol lifestyle are likelier to choose competitive social activities than visiting the local pub.

Two-thirds (64 percent) of Gen Z (under 26) have played a social entertainment game in the past month. In contrast, three in 5ive (60 percent) have been to the pub for a drink.

Competitive social activities, including axe throwing, mini golf, bowling and more, have had a 13 percent increase in participation from 2019 to 2023.

Of those surveyed, 71 percent said they had taken part in a competitive social activity this year compared to 58 percent in 2019, which younger consumers spearhead. Ninety-three percent of Gen Z consumers who responded to the survey have been part of and chosen a competitive activity, compared to 60 percent of Baby Boomers (59 to 77).

The most popular activities chosen are bowling, winning with 51 percent as the activity of choice, followed by golf (41 percent). However, newer games have also impacted, with axe throwing coming in at 19 percent, racing car simulators at 22 percent, and social cricket at 10 percent.

Jennie Bryans, travel and leisure research analyst, Mintel Reports United Kingdom, said that as more Gen Z’s come of age, the preference for sobriety has altered how they socialise. This trend in behaviours has driven demand for new and varied activities that generate excitement and adrenaline without necessarily including alcohol.
“However, the ONS predicts that by 2026, some 40 percent of the United Kingdom’s population will be over-55s, with that businesses have two key demographics to consider,” said Bryans.

There will be a need to focus on appealing to the younger generations during the peaks of evenings and weekends. However, this must be balanced with catering to older consumers during off-peak hours, when retired consumers are more available to participate.

“The cost of living crisis continues to impact many in society, and as such, 37 percent of consumers said they anticipate reducing spend on socialising and entertainment due to price rises.”

Bryan continued that this made it essential for businesses and brands to promote affordable options by offering annual passes or loyalty schemes that would encourage consistent and repeat customer visits during this financial hardship.

The other segment that could be capitalised on is using food to attract customers through what Mintel has coined ‘gastro-gaming’, where customers can watch activities and games without the need to participate whilst simultaneously enjoying high-quality meals.