There was an inescapable reality about the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) segment in India: the huge population portended that sooner than later purchasing power would develop enough muscle to help various FMCG categories penetrate deep into the country's semi-urban and rural markets. The trigger for this was an innocuous event in 1969. Today, it is universally recognised that Nirma's entry into the market radically changed the entire FMCG perspective. It set the stage for a new scramble for rural markets in which multi-national companies as well as established Indian players became fierce competitors. Nirma's focus was on ensuring that products like detergents were made affordable to even the lower economic strata of society. This philosophy had a profound effect on the entire FMCG sector and laid the roadmap for others to follow. In pure market terms, Nirma proved that supply, at the right price, could create its own demand. MNCs, which were hedging their bets till then, woke up to altered market realities and the latent rural potential of India. The government's relaxation of norms also encouraged these companies to look at economies of scale in order to make FMCG products more affordable. Players in the organised sector, till then only focusing on the urban markets, vied to outdo each other in reaching the rural consumer first. Consequently, today soaps and detergents have almost 90% penetration in India. The fabric wash market consists of 2.2 million metric tonnes of synthetic detergents, with detergent cakes and bars accounting for 40% of the volume (Source: internal estimates). The rest comprises detergent powders. While in the late 1960s there was just the premium segment in

the detergent powders market, today there are four price points. Among the branded players, Nirma is the leader with a 38% share (Source: internal estimates). The brand is almost singularly responsible for creating the new market segments in this sector. The unorganised market controls a 25% share. Today, the company's two brands, Nirma and Nima with 32 variants, are distributed through more than 2 million retail outlets, generating gross sales in excess of Rs. 4000 crore (US$ 833.30 million). The company has a significant presence in the personal care category through detergent powders and cakes, toilet soaps, scouring bars and in the food category through free-flow, edible salt.

soda ash, linear alkyl benzene (LAB), fatty acid, glycerine and huge salt works facilities. It's a matter of record that Nirma became one of the largest soda ash manufacturers in India and the 7th largest globally. The brand has also given back freely to society. It has established the Nirma University – offering varied academic and doctoral courses in the disciplines of technology, management, diploma studies and pharmaceutical science – besides setting up schools and colleges in rural areas.

In the summer of 1969, a Gujarati entrepreneur, Dr. Karsanbhai Patel, set up his first detergent making unit in the backyard of his home in Ahmedabad – measuring all of 100 square feet. With bare hands and a bucket he would prepare the dry mix detergent powder that he had invented, pack it in polythene bags and then set off on his bicycle to sell the packets, doorto-door. The launch of Nirma detergent cake came sixteen years after the introduction of the detergent powder. Its success was a foregone conclusion. In 1990, Nirma Super Detergent, a spray-dried

Some six years ago, an ACNielsen Retail Audit had ranked Nirma India's seventh largest consumer brand. Remarkably, this status was achieved entirely on the strength of homegrown research and marketing strategies. Its story of success – from a small, backyard company to one of the largest detergent manufacturers in the world – merited a Harvard Business Review case study. The Nirma success story is the result of its founder, Dr. Karsanbhai Patel's relentless focus on quality, cost and value. The distribution model, sustained line extensions, innovative packaging, backward integration and umbrella branding strategies have all enhanced the brand's leadership. To achieve control on cost, size and scale of operations and supply of keyraw materials, Nirma pursued a backward integration strategy and established its own


blue detergent powder, was launched. With the launch of the high-TFM (total fatty matter) content Nirma Beauty Soap, Nirma began to expand its product portfolio. To counter the success of Nirma Beauty Soap, Hindustan Lever Limited launched Breeze. In a flanking operation that would have done military strategists proud, Nirma, launched another brand: Nima. Both the brands from the Nirma stable have been successful in grabbing a huge chunk of all incremental sales growth in the soap category in the past twelve years. Subsequently, the Nima sub-brand, too, has been extended to the detergents category. While the brands were making marketing history, the company was strengthening its operations. Setting up backward integration

White Detergent Powder. In the fabric care category, Nirma has three products for the lower-end market. The Nirma Yellow Washing Powder is available in pack sizes of 30gms, 200gms, 500gms and 1kg and is ranked as the largest selling single detergent brand in the world. The Nirma Detergent Cake – also yellow in colour – is ranked as the most distributed detergent cake brand in the country and is available in pack sizes of 125gms and 250gms. The Nirma Popular Detergent Cake, available in pack sizes of 125gms and 150gms and targeted at lower income consumers, sells in huge volumes without any advertising support. In the mid-priced segment, the Super Nirma Washing Powder successfully debunked the

visibility. In 2008, through the acquisition of massive production facilities near Ahmedabad, Nirma entered the healthcare segment with 'Nirlife' to manufacture and market intravenous fluids, life saving drugs, amino acids etc. Within a short span Nirlife achieved sizable market share of the domestic as well as the global parenterals market.

Nirma's advertising has always focused on the value-for-money angle. Its simple and catchy jingle – Dudh Si Safedi Nirma Se Sye, Rangeen Kapda Bhi Khil Khil Jaye (Nirma's whiteness is as white as milk, even the most resplendent clothes blossom with it) – has continued to

projects reinforced the detergents' portfolio. Today, almost 90% of all raw materials – including linear alkyl benzene, soda ash, salt and packaging material – are manufactured in-house. A 15,000-strong work force at different locations ensures that there is no compromise on quality and that production deadlines are met. In 1994, Nirma Limited was listed on the stock exchanges. Today, Nirma is the flagship company of the group with complete rights and ownership of the brand. Its wholly owned subsidiary – Nirma Consumer Care Limited is the distribution arm.

Since the launch of Nirma detergent powder in 1969, the Nirma portfolio has grown to include fabric care products, personal care products, food products, packaging and chemicals. However, the underlying philosophy remains consistent – to deliver value to consumers. In 2005 there were three successful product rollouts – Nirma Saffron Beauty Soap, Nima Jasmine Beauty Soap and Nirma Super

myth that high-quality products had to be highpriced. The blue as well as white powders are available in pack sizes of 25gms, 500gms and 1 kg and are 40% cheaper than the nearest competitor. The blue-coloured Super Nirma Detergent Cake was introduced in 1990 as the better alternate to the then available detergent brands. In the scouring products category, the Nima Bartan Bar was launched with the tagline Bartan Hai Ya Darpan (Is it a utensil or is it a mirror?) which addressed the need for a scouring product that puts the shine back on utensils. The Nirma Clean Bar was launched to enable users of unbranded detergent powders and cakes to switch to a value-for-money branded product. Nirma entered the toilet soaps category with Nirma Bath Soap, a carbolic soap which positioned itself against the largest selling carbolic soap brand, Lifebuoy, from the Hindustan Lever stable, at half the price. The more upmarket Nirma Beauty Soap with five perfume variants also became an instant success. Nirma Lime Fresh Soap was launched as a mid-priced toilet soap without any advertising support. In the first month of its launch, 17 million packs were sold, vindicating the company's belief that value-for-money products are what consumers are looking for. Nima Rose and Nima Sandal are the other toilet soaps that are on offer in the mid-priced segment. The company entered the foods category with the launch of Nirma Shudh Salt in 2002. Nirma Shudh is only the second vacuum salt in the country and is manufactured using the world-class Akzo Nobel technology. The edible salt is free from human touch. Recently, Nirma has doubled its production facilities for vacuum salt.

echo in the drawing rooms of middle-class Indian homes through the decades. While the jingle stresses the product, it also salutes the savvy and budget-conscious Indian housewife. The jingle, which was first aired on radio in 1975, was broadcast on television in 1982. It is one of the longest running jingles and has seen very few changes since the time it was first aired.

Brand Values
Dr. Karsanbhai Patel puts enormous stress on operating efficiencies and marketing practices so that consumers receive their money's worth. Every packet of Nirma that Karsanbhai Patel sold to his consumers came with a money-back guarantee. Nothing has changed since. But as sales grew, so did Nirma's scale of operations. The cost-conscious approach of the initial years was to evolve into a strategic branding perspective. By the 1980s, Nirma was the toast of marketing gurus. Today, it's not just a brand – it's a phenomenon whose time has come.
Things you didn’t know about

Nirma and Nima are named after Dr. Karsanbhai Patel's daughter, Nirupama.The white dancing girl, featured in Nirma's television advertising is, perhaps, the most enduring image of Nirma.Though Ms. Patel passed away in a car accident, she continues to live on in the corporate logo and the best-selling brands of the company Nirma's radio spot has been aired without a break for 33 years Till 1986, Nirma was a single product brand Nirma is one of the largest selling detergent brands in the world More than 2 million retail outlets stock Nirma products and reach 400 million consumers Nirma was launched at Rs. 3 per kilo

Recent Developments
In a changing market environment, the company has re-launched Nirma Yellow Washing Powder and Nirma Beauty Soap, two of its strongest brands. Nirma Yellow Washing Powder is being repackaged with an improved formulation. Nirma Beauty Soap will now have a new face. Two new fragrance variants are also being added to the portfolio – Jasmine and Saffron. The packaging of the Nirma Beauty Soap has also been changed to provide better shelf



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