Bottled water is hot, while soda is not among Gen Z college undergraduates, according to a new survey from industry consultants Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) and Fluent. The survey results were shared with attendees at BMC’s Beverage Forum in Chicago this week.
The survey of 1,010 undergraduates from across the country was conducted last month and showed that bottled water was college students' runaway top beverage purchase choice, with 43 percent saying they consume it seven or more times a week. Next was hot or iced (but not specialty) coffee, with 22 percent, and brewed tea at 12 percent. Beer was next, with 9 percent, but that number was affected by a third of the respondents being under 21 and hence ineligible to purchase alcohol legally.
Furthermore, 42 percent of students indicated they plan to drink more bottled water in the future, while 22 percent said they plan to drink more brewed tea. Soda was the big loser, with 33 percent saying they plan to drink less.
While 20 percent of respondents said they rely solely on bottled water, 59 percent indicated they try to use refillable bottles filled from filtered water systems on a regular basis.
Among other findings:
• 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 students say they try to avoid artificial sweeteners, flavoring, preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup, with the sweetener they are most comfortable with being cane sugar;
• The top reasons to try beverages are friends’ picks (52 percent), “healthy/good for you” (49 percent), free samples (37 percent), interesting flavors (36 percent) and sales/promotions (25 percent);
• 37 percent of respondents drink sports drinks for hydration/recovery, 14 percent for taste and 13 percent to quench their thirst, and they are consumed most often while working out (54 percent);
• The top pick-me-up beverage was coffee at 49 percent, followed by brewed tea at 15 percent, while water tied for third at 13 percent and soda at 8 percent, which is ahead of energy drinks;
• 74 percent of respondents say they do consume alcohol and 81 percent of those do drink beer on occasion;
• The top mixers for mixed alcoholic drinks were soda (37 percent), juice (35 percent) and seltzers (10 percent).