Explore the vibrant world of ice cream in India, where traditional flavors meet a surge of exotic options. Discover how consumer preferences are shifting towards adventurous, multisensory, and heritage-inspired flavors, sparking spontaneous purchases and fond memories. Stay updated on the latest trends shaping the country’s ice cream market in 2023.
By Keerthy Pathur, Marketing Lead, Stonefield Flavours
The ice cream truck’s jingling bell often brings back school-day memories. Whether during scorching summers or rainy days, ice creams hold a special place in everyone’s hearts. Between 2008 and 2027, the ice cream industry in India saw a staggering yearly growth of 22%. By 2022, the industry’s value soared to a whopping INR 179,277.3 million, with a massive 707.9 million kg of ice cream consumed.
Ice cream has been a symbol of happiness and sheer nostalgia from time immemorial. The flavour options were quite predictable in the earlier days- vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry. While these classics still dominate the preferences, consumers have started getting seeking flavours like indulgent masala chai, rich saffron, refreshing paan, and delightful caramel popcorn among others. However, there has been an immense shift in the buying choices of ice cream consumers such as:
- Looking out for adventurous flavours that bring new excitement.
- Demand for gourmet experience in ice creams
- Interest in heritage flavours and mithai concepts
- Multi-textural experiences and flavour pairings
The Era of Impulsive Buying: Consumers Buy Spontaneously that Offer Special Taste Experiences
Have you ever been captivated and wanted to taste an ice cream while passing a store? Half of India’s ice cream lovers make impulsive purchases, drawn by the allure of flavours that ignite their taste buds. Brands have the opportunity to embrace this shift in consumer buying behaviour by offering an extensive range of flavours that inspire spur-of-the-moment purchases.
“50% of Indian ice cream consumers buy items spontaneously.” (Marketline)
Beyond the classics like Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry, incorporating sumptuous and exotic options such as Crème Brulee, Redfruits Cheesecake, Biscoff Cream etc. can vet the appetite of consumers to buy ice creams almost impulsively. Flavour innovation is now crucial to attract consumers. The introduction of unique mouth-feel flavours captivates the spontaneous buyer segment, inviting them to embark on the journey of adventurous flavours.
4 Key Trends Shaping Indian Ice Cream Consumer Preferences
The Indian ice cream market has evolved from simple ice cream sticks for summer treats to waffle cones and sundaes. Explore more upcoming trends in the Indian ice cream industry.
Flavours for Nostalgia:
Indian markets hold a special place for nostalgia. They take consumers away from their daily hustling and bustling lifestyle. People are more likely to buy things that remind them of their happiest moments. Here’s why consumers are more likely to choose flavours that remind them of happy moments.
“Reports suggest that 71% of consumers enjoy things that remind them of their childhood.” (Mintel)
Take, for example, the choice between vanilla black currant and caramel popcorn. Consumers are inclined to pick caramel popcorn, as it triggers memories of enjoying movies with loved ones, making it a more enticing option compared to vanilla black currant.
Inspiration from Specialty Concepts:
Artisanal ice cream concepts are taking over the Indian market. Consumers, especially the millennials and Gen Z are showing keen interest in gourmet ice creams that are inspired by different categories like cakes, cookies, candies, and more. Due to this growing interest in gourmet/artisanal ice creams in recent times, brands should consider offering cross-category options such as Red Fruit Cheesecake, Iced Honeycomb, etc. to satiate consumers’ indulgence appetite.
Another interest consumers have developed are around unique wellness themes and concepts crafted around fruits, dry fruits, and more. The likelihood of buying specialty concept ice creams is more when they are tied to mindful indulgence. For instance, Kaze Living has launched a new flavour called Kombucha, aimed at boosting immunity. Surprisingly, this has driven a 60% rise in sales.
Flavours that Tap Multisensory Tastes:
Ice creams that take indulgence to new heights with bakery intrusions, sprinkles, drizzles and multiple flavour or texture combinations enchant the consumer’s taste buds.
“7 in 10 Indian consumers crave more flavour adventure in the sweet bakery category.” (Mintel)
Ice cream consumers are showing huge interest in innovative flavours which feature combination of two or more flavours or textures. For example, consumers are more likely to buy vanilla when mixed with various combination of flavours and intrusions such as fruits, nuts, chocolates, syrups, etc. than regular vanilla ice cream. 70% of Indian consumers agreed regular flavours have become boring and they wanted to try a few adventurous flavours that could satisfy their craving for sweet tooth.
Flavours of Heritage:
Have you ever tried some popular local foods or drinks in other states while you’re on trips? Usually, tastes that serve a slice of heritage create curiosity. For instance, even as a consumer who has never tasted Bengal’s special Aam Doi ice cream, you would still want to try it just to satisfy your curiosity. This trend has especially heightened appeal among senior consumers.
The flavours that are influenced by regions of the nation evoke state or regional nostalgia. Although there are innovative and exotic flavours in the Indian market, consumers find a special interest in enjoying provincial flavours that evoke a sense of belonging and heritage.
The landscape of India’s ice cream market is undergoing a flavorful transformation in 2023. Traditional favourites like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry still hold their sway, but the emergence of exotic flavours stir the taste buds of consumers nationwide.
A significant trend is the spontaneous buying behaviour of ice cream lovers, with more than half of Indian consumers opting for flavours that promise irresistible taste experiences. Nostalgic flavours are gaining momentum that transports them to cherished memories tied to their past.
The artisanal and multisensory appeal of ice creams infused with bakery delights, toppings, and flavour combinations tend to captivate more taste buds. Lastly, the allure of heritage flavours, inspired by the rich diversity of India’s regions, evokes curiosity, particularly among senior consumers.
In this dynamic market, the road to success lies in innovation, with brands being urged to craft flavours that resonate with nostalgia and the spirit of exploration. By embracing these trends and pushing the boundaries of flavour innovation, the Indian ice cream industry is set to bring a new sense of delight to consumers.