Started in 1969 by Dr Karsanbhai Patel, Nirma detergent contributed to the overall growth of its umbrella brand Nirma to emerge as a `17-billion company within three decades of its launch. It is still one of the largest selling detergent brands in India.
Dr Patel used to make the detergent in the backyard of his house in Ahmedabad which he would go out to sell door-to-door himself.
Offering money-back guarantee with every packet, Patel initially sold his detergent powder at just `3 per kilogram. Even the cheapest detergent at that time cost `13 per kilogram! And so, he was able to successfully target the middle and lower middle income segments, making Nirma one of the country’s largest selling detergents in no time. It was not easy to compete with corporate giants which were into the detergent powder business, but Nirma never failed to give its competitors huge headaches. There were very few Indian brands in the business at that time.
With a mission to provide, “Better Products, Better Value, Better Living”, Nirma detergent carved out a niche for itself in the lower end of the detergent market. The use of detergent powder was pioneered in India by an established brand in 1959. But by the late 1970s, Nirma dominated the detergent powder market, simply by selling the product at an affordable price.
However, in a fast growing India post globalisation, Nirma realised that it would have to launch higher end products as well to retain its upwardly mobile middle class consumers.
Therefore, in mid 1990s, Nirma detergent extended its branch into six other sub-categories – Nirma washing powder, Super Nirma washing powder, Nirma Popular detergent powder, Nirma detergent cake, Super Nirma detergent cake and Nirma Popular detergent cake.
Though Nirma detergent was highly popular, people often felt reluctant to admit using it because of its low price. Nirma went out to shed this image, sometime around the mid-90s.
Nirma detergent’s cost-focussed strategy proved to be a success in the long run. With its vast product line, it debunked the myth that good detergents needed to be highly priced.
Nirma detergent’s promotional jingle was first aired on radio in 1975 and still continues to strike a chord with consumers. It became one of the longest running jingles and has seen very few changes since the time it was first aired. The company which started with just one man delivering his product from door to door, today employs around 14,000 people and has a turnover of around `25 billion.