The New, Cheaper Bar that Millennials Want
“I don’t see how you can hate from outside of the club. You can’t even get in!” With the uttering of those two iconic sentences in the 2011 mega hit “Look At Me Now”, Chris Brown provided the most telling statement about the club scenes in America.
2011 was a different world. A young Chris Brown at the age of 21 (barely old enough to legally get into said club) dropped what would become an instant classic to any and all young folk who listened to his music. I was 15 at the time of the song’s release, not really able to comprehend what exactly he was alluding to when saying that he could get into a club, but not others.
Fast forward a couple of years to my college years and I understand exactly what he means. He’s alluding to the fact that he, Chris Brown (Breezy to some), is able to get into a certain night club, whilst his “haters” are not able to gain access to that same venue.
This isn’t an article about Chris Brown, mostly because he isn’t an economist or a stock on the NYSE. Chris Brown is a rapper who speaks on a myriad of topics that often times have to do with spending money in a frivolous way. He’s had more than a few shortcomings, so in no way am I endorsing any of those past transgressions. If Chris Brown knew about SnoQap, he’d probably be indexing his money and rapping about the average 8 percent return of the S&P.
In the first line of that song, Chris Brown describes a staple of culture in general: status. Rap is an industry driven by status. In these songs, artists lushly describe themselves, the company they keep, and the lives they live. It’s a status contest, and every artist that arrives on the scene is almost obligated to show how much money they’re willing to spend on stupid stuff.
The status that Chris Brown talks about in the opening line of this song is being able to get into a swanky night club. Furthermore, this type of jargon highlights something that I’ve never been quite able to understand: the cover charge and other innate purchases that come with going out.
A cover charge is a flat fee paid for admission to a restaurant, bar, club, etc. for entry into the establishment. Many of these establishments are simply looking for a guaranteed buck, but others want to decrease the demand for entry by making you pay to get in. It’s simple supply and demand, but when you have a line that stretches outside the corner of the club/bar, why do we as consumers gladly wait for entry and still pay a cover charge?
As rationally thinking adults, we may not believe that we’re slaves to the same status that Chris Brown is alluding to in this song. But if you ask me, paying $5, $10, or even $25 to stand in a crowded venue portrays the same kind status-seeking, and is thus a waste of money. Many others seem to be adopting this line of thinking, creating a trend in the nightlife scene (economics, finally!).
Folks are beginning to flock away from the bars, towards other experiences. From 2004-2014, the number of bars in the United States went from 71,864 to 59,555 according to a report from Nielson TDLinx. Many believe is a trend directly tied to the millennial generation’s insistence on unique experiences.
“We’ve seen strong growth in specialty bars, such as premium wine bars and craft beer brew pubs,” said Mario Gutierrez, vice president with Nielsen TDLinx. “It shows that consumers don’t just want to go to places where they get drinks they already have at home.”
It makes perfect sense; why pay a premium for a regular bar with regular drinks when you could simply have your friends over to do the same activities and pay half the cost? Eventbrite, a marketplace for events and social experiences, took data from 10,000 events and surveyed over 4,000 event-goers to calculate just how much people were spending on a night out.
Of the six cities highlighted in their study, Chicago had the highest rate for a night out with $90! That’s a solid chunk of money, especially if you’re going to be going out several times per month. Other cities didn’t fall far behind, such as Atlanta at $87, Los Angeles at $85, and New York City at $82.
It’s important to note that this study wasn’t researching nights at the neighborhood corner bar, which would be much cheaper. But if people are now willing to cut out the generic bars in favor of the specialty events page, then those are extremely relevant findings.
Technology and convenience play a large role in these trends. Why go to a crowded bar or night club to meet people when you could stay in your apartment and swipe through potential suitors on Tinder? Why pay an exorbitant cover charge for a wait in line and a crowded bar when you could grab beverages for cheaper and actually be able to hold a conversation and not have to listen to Pitbull’s verse on “Timber” 20 times? Plus, Netflix is probably more entertaining than cleaning vomit off of your shoes the next day anyway.
These are the questions that are driving down an industry that dominated our parents’ generation. But can you really blame the generation that grew up in midst of 9/11, a financial crisis, and to come of age during an era of extreme political turmoil for not wanting to socialize with complete strangers? Staying in gives one complete control of how they spend one night, rather than being herded like sheep all night long by a bouncer.
The numbers on binge drinking amongst generations also play into the trend of dropping the bars. A 2016 survey by Heineken showed that 75% of millennials drink in moderation when they do consume alcohol. Furthermore, teen drinking rates are at an all time low, with only 19% of high school seniors admitting to binge drinking in 2014, down from 41.4% back in 1980.
Overall, this trend mirrors business in the ever evolving, fast paced 21st Century. As we see here, the night life scene is no exception. So, I guess Millennials can hate from outside of the club because we don’t want to get in.
Cheadle, Harry. “Millennials Have Discovered ‘Going Out’ Sucks – VICE.” 2017. Accessed August 10. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ppveam/millennials-have-discovered-going-out-sucks.
Howe, Neil. 2017. “Millennials Gone Mild.” Accessed August 10. https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2016/03/16/where-the-wild-things-arent/.
Kane, Libby. 2017. “The Average Cost of a Night out in 6 Major US Cities.” Accessed August 10. http://www.businessinsider.com/cost-of-a-night-out-2015-3.
Kavilanz, Parija. 2015. “Neighborhood Bars Are Rapidly Disappearing Every Month across America.” October 9. http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/09/smallbusiness/bars-closing-nielsen/index.html.
Oleksinski, Johnny. 2016. “Millennials Don’t Deserve NYC.” June 9. http://nypost.com/2016/06/08/shocking-study-reveals-millennials-dont-like-doing-stuff/.