Achievement: Man behind the hugely successful brand, Nirma.
Karsanbhai Patel is the man behind the hugely successful brand, Nirma.
His' is a legendary rags to riches journey during which he shattered
established business theories and rewrote new ones.
Karsanbhai Khodidas Patel (K.K. Patel) came from a humble farmer family
from Mehsana, Gujarat. He worked as Lab Assistant in the Geology and
Mining Department of the Government of Gujarat. In 1969, at the age of
25, Karsan Bhai Patel started a small-scale enterprise. He offered a
quality detergent powder, using indigenous technology, at a third of the
prevailing price, without compromising on the product. Karsanbhai named
the detergent powder Nirma after daughter Nirupama.
At that time domestic detergent market was limited only to premium segment and was dominated by MNCs. Karsanbhai Patel
started door-to-door selling of Nirma and priced it at Rs. 3 per kg. The
next available cheapest brand in the market at that time was Rs.13 per
kg. Nirma revolutionized the whole detergent powder segment and in a
short span of time created an entirely new market segment in the
domestic detergent sector market. It gave the bigger established brands
a run for their money and soon occupied the top market share. To add to
all this, Nirma was made of an innovative formulation, which global
detergent giants were later on compelled to emulate, it was phosphate
free and hence environment friendly, and the process of manufacturing
was labour intensive, which offered large scale employment.
Karsanbhai notched up one success after another. After establishing its
leadership in economy-priced detergents, Nirma foray into the premium
brand segment, in cakes and detergents was equally successful. It built
up a 30% market share in the premium detergent segment and achieved a
greater than 20% share in the premium soaps market.
Karsanbhai Patel has won many accolades on his way to success. The
Federation of Association of Small Scale Industries of India, New Delhi,
awarded him with the 'Udyog Ratna'. The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce
felicitated him as an 'Outstanding Industrialist of the Eighties'. The
Govt. of India twice appointed him Chairman of the Development Council
for Oils, Soaps & Detergents.