Updated: Feb 7, 2022
In 1969, Karsanbhai, the son of a small farmer, worked as a lab technician at the Gujarat Govt. Department of Mining and Geology. To explore his passion for Chemistry, he picked up a project to create a high-quality yet low-cost detergent powder after job hours.
This was when Hindustan Unilever Limited's Surf was a market monopoly. Surf was a luxury item, costing Rs. 13/ kg.
Karsanbhai started testing with soda ash, and after much trial & error, conjured a formula and started selling it for Rs. 3/Kg.
Karsanbhai had recently lost his daughter 'Nirupama' in a car accident. His dream was to give his daughter good education and have a worldwide name. Therefore, he decided to make his daughter's name famous through Nirma washing powder and keep her immortal.
By the early '80s, Nirma conquered the market share in Gujarat. Seeing this potential, Karsanbhai left his government job to pursue it as a full-time venture.
Patel noticed that retailers outside Gujarat were hesitant to sell it since buyers were unaware of its existence. This resulted in delayed payments, negative cash flow, and high losses to Patel.
To tackle this problem, Karsanbhai came out with a brilliant plan to push his idea to the market & promote his formula, followed by massive marketing campaigns -
🎶Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma sabki pasand Nirma🎶
These ads challenged the stereotype of the average Indian middle-class woman, who was formerly just concerned with the household responsibilities but is now confident, glamorous, and ready to face any challenge.
Enticed by the ads, customers flocked to stores. As the demand for Nirma peaked, Karsanbhai flooded the market with his formula, resulting in record-breaking sales.
By the end of 1988, Nirma had a whopping 60% market share and significantly outsold HUL's Surf in sales!
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