The Curious Case Of Ghari Detergent

Last month during a guest lecture, Director of a well known advertisement firm asked us, which was the leading detergent brand in terms of sales. Many obvious answers popped out including surf, wheel, tide etc. But he rejected every answer as incorrect. And then from corner of auditorium a girl answered “Ghari” and to the surprise of everyone in the auditorium, it was the correct answer. Ghari? How come a brand which is so unlikely to be used by anyone sitting in room, is the market leader in this section. But then I realized that Ghari holds the very important nerve of Indian market which led its product to the Numero Uno position in this segment. That is, rural markets and semi urban markets.

Ghari’s birth:

Detergent industry started in India when Swastik Oil Mills in Mumbai became the first Indian factory to manufacture synthetic detergents. HUL’s entrance in 1960s changed the scenario in this industry. In 1969 nirma was established. It removed HUL’s reign and captured pole position in the year 1985. To counter the ‘Nirma effect’ HUL launched Wheel in 1988.sa_143054683471263864gharidetergentcake

Amidst all this competition an infant brand was born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh in the year 1987. Without much public attention or media hype Muralidhar and Bimal Kumar Gyanchandani launched ‘Ghari detergent’. Muralidhar and Bimal Kumar incorporated Shri Mahadeo Soap Industries Pvt. Ltd. under which they started manufacturing Ghari detergent. Eventually, Shri Mahadeo Soap Industries Pvt. changed its name to Rohit Surfactants Private Limited (RSPL) in June 2005. After 25 years of its inception it took the top position in detergent market.

Ghari’s marketing strategy:

So what made this local brand strong enough to give a stiff competition to international biggies like HUL and P&G and reach the top spot. The success potion of the rise of this company is surely its marketing strategy. Some of its marketing strategies are following:

Ghari identified its target segment very well. It didn’t have enough money power to face giants like HUL and P&G, so it started its operations at a very basic level and focused on its home state Uttar Pradesh. It targeted mainly middle class and lower middle class; rural and semi urban market which constituted the major chuck of population. With this much focused positioning of its products to the market; Ghari could penetrate into its target market very well. Slowly and steadily it captured market in neighboring states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. The high population in these states also helped it to sell more units.

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It is said a strong distribution channel can give you a long term competitive advantage. Management of Ghari was quick to understand it and worked towards building a robust distribution network. They incentivized dealers with a higher profit margin than their competitors in the segment.

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With a small allocation for promotion functions, it had an uphill task of managing advertising and promotional activities within that fund. Ghari management pulled it off with innovative ideas which not only saved them money but also provided them with the required penetration into the market. Ghari’s signature advertisement campaign had always been there in T.V’s and Radio’s with the tagline ‘pehele istemaal karein phir vishwaas karein’. Apart from these advertisements ghari also included many clutter breaking steps like –

  • Railway based promotional techniques where they painted the whole exterior of the train with Ghari’s advertisements. The first campaign of this nature was lauched in 2008 with Ghari express (summer train) running from Lucknow to Gauhati. Then taking a cue from success of this attempt they launched similar campaigns with other trains like Pushpak express and Swarna Jayanti express
  • Ghari took its brand to nook and corners of the country by promoting itself at various road shows, magic shows, local plays (nautanki and ramleelas) and exhibitions. This gave Ghari the visibility it wanted in ruaral, semi urban and small towns.
  • They also used 30 vehicles for out of home advertisements
  • Instead of endorsing any celebrity, they made the brand talk for itself. They organized many events where customers can test the brand themselves and can clear their doubts.
  • Ghari also sponsored some T.V. shows. This include hit show like Mahabharat in star plus. Mahabharat, being one of the most favorite epics of the country, garnered audience from both classes and masses and thus gave Ghari a huge platform to promote itself.

Along with these path breaking strategies, what make Ghari special and a hit is its pricing strategy. Ghari keeping in mind its target market i.e. middle and bottom end of the economic pyramid, kept its pricing very low. As far as possible it took the hit of rising material cost on itself instead of passing it to the customers. This resulted in low profit margin but high sales volume.

With all these marketing measures coupled with optimum utilization of its resources Ghari could stand out in the cut throat competition in Indian detergent market. Ghari has surely been an Idol for all those desi companies who fear to take on international giants. It can surely be an excellent ambassador of Make in India campaign, giving hopes to hopeless Indian manufacturing sector. But the primary question is, for how long will this fairy tale continue? Can Ghari sustain its low pricing strategy in this price war and generate profit? Only time will tell, but for now Ghari surely is an underdog playing like a rockstar!

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  1. Profile gravatar of Swapnil
    Swapnil 2 years ago

    It really gives a very good info and I never knew marketing of Garhi Detergent… Thanks mate

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The Curious Case Of Ghari Detergent

by Munir Ahmed time to read: 5 min
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