The advertisement starts off with a catchy line, “Washing powder Nirma, Detergent powder Nirma… Nirma”. How many of you all remember this? Nirma has touched the heights of in the competitive Indian market due to its quality, quantity and affordability. Let’s get to know about the chronicles of Nirma detergent brand.
In a heartbreaking story, Karsanbhai Patel lost his daughter Nirma in a car accident and then he kept alive the memory of her name in a brand he has been caring like his own daughter. What started as a door to door service now has an overall 20% market share in soap cakes and about 35% in detergents.
Today, he is an Indian industrialist, founder of the Rs. 2500 crore (USD 500 mn) Nirma group with major interests in detergents, soaps and cosmetics. In 2017, Forbes said that his net worth as USD $3.6 Billion.
He was born into a farmer family from north Gujarat. He finished his B.Sc. in Chemistry at age 21 and then worked as a lab technician in the New Cotton Mills, Ahmedabad, of the Lalbhai group and then at the Geology and Mining Department of the State Government.
In an after-office business, Karsanbhai started Nirma in the year 1969, in a period when India’s domestic detergent market hardly had any competition. Majority of the middle class and poor people couldn’t afford to buy detergents at that time.
Sensing this opportunity to produce detergents at a cheap and economical price, Karsanbhai started making detergent powder in the backyard of his house situated in Khokra near Ahmedabad.
He sold them from door to door at Rs 3 per Kg when other brands of the same quality were selling detergents at Rs 13 per Kg. So, the customers started to focus more on Nirma as the quality product comes with an affordable price.
As per Business Standard reports, Nirma ran through tough times during the early 80s, as it struggled with sales. In a bid to get rid of the problem, Karsanbhai came out with a master plan to overcome the loss by collecting all due credits.
Then he followed it up with a massive advertising campaign flaunting his daughter in a white frock picking the famous Nirma. Impressed by this, customers turned up in massive numbers to stores to try the products.
As the demand for Nirma increased, Karsanbhai defeated the competitors with his products, leading to massive sales. It was at that time, sales of Nirma grew to a maximum extent and thereby making it the most sold detergent, above their nearest rival – Surf of Hindustan Unilever.
Karsanbhai purchased the LafargeHolcim’s cement business for $1.4 billion. He also started the Nirma Institute of Technology in 1995 and then Nirma University of Science and Technology in 2003, supervised by the Nirma Education and Research Foundation.
In 2004, he initiated the Nirmalabs education project which is aimed at training and incubating entrepreneurs in the country. In 2010, Karsanbhai Patel was bestowed with prestigious Padma Shri.