In India ‘Surf‘ by Unilever was synonym to detergent powder during the 1960s and 70s. It held an undisputed leadership in the detergent market then. However, their penetration was very low because their product was considered as the premium products.
Then came the ‘NIRMA’ detergent powder; it dethroned the market leader by its strong pricing and shrewd distribution strategy.
When Surf was priced at ₹ 12 per kg, KarsanBhai priced Nirma at ₹ 3 per kg. He kept the product simple. Premium qualities like whitening agent, perfumes were not included in the product.
Having an upper hand on pricing, the only hurdle in front of KarsanBhai was initial market adoption of the product. If he were able to make sure the retailers stocked his product, then it would be easy to sell Nirma.
Without having a big budget for marketing, KarsanBhai did a smart move. He requested the wives of the workers in his factory to do a small favor. He asked them to regularly enquire for Nirma detergent powder in all the shop in the zones where their husbands were supposed to distribute the product.
Seeing many housewives asking for this particular brand of detergent, the retailers when approached by the KarsanBhai distributors readily accepted the product and stocked them. The product price helped them to sell it easily.
By growing steadily through the next couple of decades, Nirma gained 35% market share in the detergent market in the 1990s.
Written by , Digital Marketing Head at Olacabs