Cool has been studied mostly in consumer samples drawn from Western countries. This study was inspired by paucity of literature on “cool” in an Indian context. There is certainty that “cool” adds value and bestows desirability but there is uncertainty about what “cool” means. Since “cool” is a cultural phenomenon, the purpose of this paper is to explore its meaning in the Indian context.
The data were obtained on an open-ended questionnaire followed by depth probes on a sample of young consumers. The obtained scripts were coded and classified into semantic categories based on the grounded theory.
The study found that cool is indicated by seven facets, including being oneself, living life to the fullest, sense of humor and socially networked, and calm disposition. Unlike Western notions, in India, cool is not being deviant and hedonistic. The cultural and religious imprints are palpable in what is construed as cool in India.
Transplanting the Western notions of cool for brand building is likely to be a risky proposition. It may not resonate with the inner cords of the Indian youth. The implication of this study is that it reveals possible ways in which cool can be incorporated in brand identity.
Cool is valued because it bestows distinction in subtle ways. Brands can gain traction among consumers by incorporating cool symbolism in their identity.
This study expands the understanding of cool in the context of an emerging market. This is one of the first studies to have probed the concept of “cool” in India.
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