NIRMA – The Jingle That Kept Jingling

The Nirma washing powder advertisement has one of the most famous jingles. It’s been years down the line but the jingle of Nirma is still jingling in the ears of Indian People. It was immaterial whether the detergent gave clothes the “Dhood si Safedi” or not, the most important thing was its ad.

The music starts in the T.V and there comes rushing a mother from the kitchen, a child leaving his play, a grandmother watching the ad while knitting. Starting as a one-product, one-man outfit from a 100 sq ft (9.3 m2) room in 1969, Nirma became a very successful company within three decades. The company had multi-locational manufacturing facilities, and a broad product portfolio under an umbrella brand – Nirma. The company’s mission to provide, “Better Products, Better Value, Better Living” contributed a great deal to its success.

Think of Nirma and the picture of a little girl twirling around in her white frock with the familiar jingle ‘Washing powder Nirma’ comes to mind. One of the most recognisable Indian brands, Nirma’s story is a classic example of the success of Indian entrepreneurship in the face of stiff competition. Nirma took on the might of giant multinationals and wrote a new chapter in the Indian corporate history.

Nirma1

Nirma’s success is synonymous with its advertising and marketing strategy. When Karsanbhai Patel, the founder of the brand, started selling his detergent powder, he decided to call it Nirma, derived from the name of his daughter Nirupama. Karsanbhai Patel used to make detergent powder in the backyard of his house in Ahmedabad and then carry out door to door selling of his hand made product. He gave a money back guarantee with every pack that was sold. Karsanbhai Patel managed to offer his detergent powder for Rs. 3 per kg when the cheapest detergent at that time was Rs.13 per kg and so he was able to successfully target the middle and lower middle income segment.

“Sabki Pasand Nirma”!!

Nirma became a huge success and all this was a result of Karsanbhai Patel’s entrepreneurial skills. Karsanbhai Patel had good knowledge of chemicals and he came up with Nirma detergent which was a result of innovative combination of the important ingredients. Indigenous method was used, and also the detergent was more environment friendly. Consumers now had a quality detergent powder, having an affordable price tag.

The process of detergent production was labour intensive and this gave employment to a large number of people. Nirma focused on cost reduction strategies to make a place for itself in the market. Nirma has always been known for offering quality products at affordable prices and thus creating good value for the consumer money. In the early years, the Nirma packet featured a lady washing a garment. Later, however, the design was changed and an image of his daughter was featured on the pack. The white dancing girl, featured in Nirma’s television advertising, is perhaps the most enduring image of the brand.

Nirma2

Nirma created an entirely new market segment in the domestic marketplace and quickly emerged as a dominant market player. The detergent brand that started out of Karsanbhai Patel’s 100 square feet workshop in 1969 continues to be popular in middle-class homes of the country. Nirma successfully countered competition from HLL and carved a niche for itself in the lower-end of the detergents and toilet soap market. The brand name became almost synonymous with low-priced detergents and toilet soaps. However, Nirma realized that it would have to launch products for the upper end of the market to retain its middle class consumers who would graduate to the upper end.
The company launched toilet soaps for the premium segment. However, analysts felt that Nirma would not be able to repeat its success story in the premium segment.

The best case of – Give your consumer what he wants, when he wants, where he wants and at the price he wants, selling will be done quite automatically. This is the marketing ‘mantra’ of Nirma.

The company that was started in 1969 with just one man who used to deliver his product from one house to the other, today employs around over 15000 people and has a turnover of more than Rs.3550 crores. In 2004, Nirma’s detergent approached 800,000 tonnes – one of the largest volumes sold in the world under a single brand ‘NIRMA’.  According to Forbes in 2005 Karsanbhai Patel’s net worth was $ 640 million and the net worth of the company stood at Rs. 2953 crore as of March 31, 2013.

Author: Rumana Guha

RumanaShe is a person who dreams a lot. Her dreams are very high. A person full of optimism, songs are her passion and she is a good singer too. She is also a reader not a regular one though but does read something on a regular basis.

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4 comments

  1. Since last decade or more, Nirma is a brand which was killed by competition and not updating its marketing. “Doodh si safedi nirma se aaye, rangeen kapda bhi khil2 jaye” worked well when there was no competition in market.

    Though they have numbers, company’s target audience is buying Nirma, but the product is used for cleaning utensils, wash basins, cars and floors. People almost wash everything with NIrma, except clothes. This is a brand failure.

    Nirma’s most products are consumed in bottom of pyramid, the people who are using Nirma, have made Nirma synonymous with washing powder, they ask for Nirma but they just buy whatever given by the shopkeeper. (Same as Bisleri)

    If we go on numbers, HUL soaps and detergents has turnover of 12,461 crore. 16% growth almost every year. Nirma is nowhere by those standards.

    1. Hi Sunil

      I am glad you made this observation.

      The original music of the 1980 jingle was composed by the legendary Music Director – VedPal Verma.

      VedPal had composed 2 jingles for Nirma 1. Nirma Washing Powder and 2. Nirma Detergent Tikiya (jiski jhaaaaaaag ne jaadu kar diya).

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