What Traditional Indian Sweets Mean: A Consumer- Culture Perspective

Consuming traditional Indian sweets is a significant part of the Indian way of life. The traditional sweet industry in India is currently estimated to be worth US$8 billion. This study adopts a consumer culture perspective to understand what traditional sweet consumption means for consumers in India. The findings show that traditional sweet consumption is symbolic of a shared historical and socio-cultural tradition associated with auspicious tidings, good luck and celebration, and also of a self that comes into being with others rather than separately or in isolation. Such consumption resists assimilation into an undifferentiated global-culture in terms of preference for what is considered traditionally Indian over other possible alternatives. The study has implications both for the traditional sweet industry in India and also for alternatives (confectionary, ice-creams, chocolates, cookies, cakes) in terms of market-entryopenings, growing market share and developing product and brand-related communication strategies. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. The study was accepted for presentation at the December 2015 ANZMAC conference in Sydney, Australia.