College grads might be known for their rowdy partying, but today’s consumers are toning down their nightlife—young and old alike.

Here’s some evidence that chill is the new cool:

1. The kids are partying hard…ly. Barely a third of freshmen entering college in 2014 said that they drink alcohol, compared to more than half in 2002, and more than 41% said they’d never attended a party. Still, brands from Old Spice to Discover continue to push out ads glorifying epic parties.

To connect with today’s millennials, brands might want to follow Apple’s lead. In “After Party,” a spot promoting its Apple Music streaming service, the chart-topping R&B crooner The Weeknd at first appears to be making his way through a happening house party—only to reveal that the fabulous fete is actually a product of his playlist-produced imagination.

2. But there’s still room for fun. Even if kids aren’t partying, they’re still meeting up to play video games…and their cardboard equivalents, which seem to be making a resurgence. Survey respondents also described low-key gatherings with friends like potlucks and TV-viewing parties.


3. Many just say no to nightlife. More than seven in ten consumers go out to bars less than once a month or never, and a third “don’t have a nightlife” or prefer to relax at home. “I usually check my email or watch DVDs at night,” one millennial respondent said.

But positioned correctly, even typical nightlife products can appeal to calmer leisure seekers. BeWineful, founded by two mindfulness practitioners, is a service that promises “a moment of peace at the end of a hard day” by combining wine tasting and mindfulness exercises.

This is the third article in a new series introducing research from Iconoculture, which is now part of the Gartner for Marketers​ research and advisory offering.

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