From selling detergent on a bicycle to $2 Billion in revenue in 2019.
Here is the Story of Nirma
The founder of Nirma – Karsanbhai Patel was born in a family of farmers in 1945 in Ruppur, Gujarat wherein he completed B. Sc. in Chemistry and worked as a Lab Technician and In 1969, he started experimenting, manufacturing, and packaging phosphate-free synthetic detergent powder from a small room in his house.
Well, the name ‘Nirma’ was derived by Karsanbhai from her daughter’s name Nirupama. The image on the packaging on Nirma is also of hers. Sadly, she passed away in an accident. Since then, Karsanbhai has immortalized her name and image through the brand.
In the 70s, ‘Surf’ by Hindustan Lever Limited (now Hindustan Unilever) was an established brand of detergent.Detergent was considered a premium product back then. And Surf was a product that was aimed at people belonging to the higher-income groups of India.Surf was being sold at around Rs. 13/kg and was not affordable for everyone.
Karsanbhai opted for a different approach – he started selling Nirma at Rs. 3.50/kg.Stories suggest that during the initial days, Karsanbhai would go around on a bicycle and sell his homemade Nirma detergent door-to-door after work to make a few extra bucks.
This unique price point of Nirma detergent gained the attention and sales from the middle and lower-income groups.3 years later, Karsanbhai quit his job to set up a shop in Ahmedabad and sell his locally-popular Nirma detergent.
Over time, Nirma gained attention and sales but it needed a boost from Radio and TV Commercials to continue growing and compete with other detergent brands.
Nirma and Purnima Advertising Agency came up with the famous jingle “Washing Powder Nirma. Washing Powder Nirma. Doodh se safediNirma se aaye, Rangeenkapdabhikhilkhiljaye. SabkipasandNirma. Washing Powder Nirma.” And In 1975, the famous ‘SabkiPasandNirma’ jingle first aired on radio and continued its streak for 33 years. In 1982, the ad starring SangeetaBijlaniwas first broadcasted on TV.
The ads, the jingle, the characters of Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma, and the cultural touch did wonders for Nirma.At one point of time in the 80s, the company withdrew most of its stock of Nirma detergent from the market for a month as the advertisements added to the demand.
As the demand peaked, the company flooded the market with Nirma detergents bringing in the much-needed sales and revenue to give a tough fight to its competitors.
By 1985, Nirma overtook Surf and became the top-selling detergent brand in India.
By 1988, Nirma had captured 60% of the total detergent market in India.
The company maintained its low-price point over the years and kept promoting the brand and the product. As the company grew, Nirma ventured into the business of soap cakes and other products as well.
Nirma’s ad campaign for ‘Nirma Beauty Soap’ starring SonaliBendreran on cinema and TV for 12 years from 1997 to 2009 making it one of the most successful campaigns of the company.
In 2011, Nirma gave a makeover to the characters of Hema, Jaya, Rekha aur Sushma, and launched a campaign focused on these 4 characters pushing out an ambulance that’s stuck in the mud, as men around them just stand and watch.
Today, the Nirma group of companies is into the business of soap, detergents, soda ash, cement, and many other products.Nirma group of companies brought in revenues of Rs. 15335 Cr or over $2 Billion in the financial year ending in 2019.
In 2016, Nirma acquired Lafarge India for $1.4 Billion. Earlier this year, Nirma also acquired Emami Cement for $770 Million through its subsidiary Nuvoco Vistas to expand its cement business.
Today, Karsanbhai ranks at #30 on the list of Forbes India’s Richest with a Net Worth of $3.7 Billion.
In 2010, Karsanbhai received Padma Shri Award from the Government of India.
Over the past 3 decades, he also established Nirma Education & Research Foundation and Nirma University to promote higher education.