In a survey, in which 10,000 young people were asked if they had drunk alcohol in the past week, a staggering 50% hadn't, that's up from 35% in 2005. So now, 16-24 year olds are the second biggest group of abstainers, after the elderly. This must be music to the ears of health campaigners and the NHS! Not such good news if you're a pub landlord, off-licence owner or any kind of alcoholic drink producer, you might wonder. The knock-on effect must be that youngsters are simply not going on a night out solely to drink together. We already know that the younger generations, dubbed millennials, are motivated by experiences, which are entertaining, novel and add to their own story.
Previously, we've already seen the trend for low or no-alcohol beers, wines and spirits gathering pace in an effort to keep step with this evolution in consumer drinking habits. Surely now, pub and bar retailers have to get seriously creative to entice the younger generations back into the pub environment for a cheeky half or three. It's not just about your drink offer, it's also about how you can add value to a night out at the pub. As many of the older, past generations of pub goers did, perhaps it's time to get the tried and tested analogue pub games out, mix it up with a few new ones (don't forget they like new experiences!) and bring the quizmaster back, only this time a younger, leaner version who is partial to a diet coke!
Now admittedly this may not be new to most but as we've been out of the country for a fair few years the Harris + Hoole coffee shop at a nearby Tesco was a pleasant surprise. We're pretty used to finding the likes of Costa in supermarkets and petrol stations these days. But a coffee shop that feels artisan and offers exciting non-coffee drinks and has the right dash of the personal touch is a welcome discovery.
With a laid-back diner feel, plenty of light and air and a smiley, enthusiastic - not to mention talented - barista (or hooligan as they are known in-house), it felt like we'd arrived somewhere a bit different. As it was a girly indulge in some sweet sustenance between finishing school and going to an after-school activity, we were after something more than just a pick-me-up latte. We weren't disappointed! Refreshing pink grapefruit soda made with our old friends' MONIN's delicious pink grapefruit syrup was lip-smacking and works wonders at waking you up if you've had your caffeine quota for the day. Add to this a memorable mango smoothie and a delightful hot chocolate topped with the cutest foamy bear face you ever did see (courtesy of our talented barista) and we were fully recharged and raring to go again. (Did we forget the crumbly, goes-everywhere, melt-in-the-mouth Millionaire's Shortbread? We're trying to!)
Of course it goes without saying that here at hoot & holler we can't help take our hat off to the beautifully named Harris + Hoole. It was obviously written in the coffee foam that our paths would cross. Now, we've downloaded the app and are heading back for a free taste of the H+H coffee this week. Do holler if you ever need any PR!
Clare Pope, always has her head in a book - current read The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Waal