Monday, May 7, 2012

The giants that made a mark

There are many Indian companies which rose from scratch and later became household brands with loyal customers. If I remember my Father used to purchase only Hamam soaps when many other brands were available. Most of these brands were later acquired by MNC's either to make a quick buck or when they could no longer hold against the tough competition. Some of them continue to survive inspite of tough competition.

Nirma washing powder

Nirma is a group of companies based in the city of Ahmedabad in western India that manufactures products ranging from cosmetics, soaps, detergents, salt, soda ash, LAB and Injectibles. Karsanbhai Patel, a well known entrepreneur and philanthropist of Gujarat, started Nirma as a one-man operation. Today Nirma has over 15000 employees and a turnover of over 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'.

In 1969, dr. karsanbhai patel{2}, a chemist at the Gujarat Government's Department of Mining and Geology manufactured phosphate free Synthetic Detergent Powder, and started selling it locally. The new yellow powder was priced at Rs. 3.50 per kg, at a time when HLL's Surf was priced at Rs 15. Soon, there was a huge demand for Nirma in Ruppur (Gujarat), Patel's hometown. He started packing the formulation in a 10x10ft room in his house. Patel named the powder as Nirma, after his daughter Nirupama. Patel was able to sell about 15-20 packets a day on his way to the office on bicycle, some 15 km away. By 1985, Nirma washing powder had become one of the most popular, household detergents in many parts of the country.

Goodnite Mosquito Coil

The Goodknight brand was launched by Transelektra Domestic Products Limited (TDPL) in 1984. Having tasted early success,TDPL targeted the lower-end of the market, launching a brand called Star priced at just Rs. 36 (US$ 0.75). Godrej Hi Care took over TDPL in August 1994. A year later the new company had acquired and merged brands like Jet and Banish. This was followed by a strategic alliance with Sara Lee, a Fortune 500 consumer product giant to create a formidable combine.


This octogenarian brand from Kolkata-based G D Pharmaceutical Limited has invigorated and inspired the entire over-the-counter (OTC) antiseptic cream market in India commanding an annual sale of 2.8 million litres valued at more than Rs. 180 crore (US$ 37.50 million). In this evolving segment Boroline, with its traditional quality and an unswerving commitment to consumers is the eminent front-runner with a market share of 21% (Source: ORG-Marg).

Boroline's history is inextricably intertwined with the dawning of India's nationalistic pride and struggle for independence. Founder, Gourmohan Dutta belonged to Calcutta's merchant class. He was already an established trader of imported goods, when the patriotic Swadeshi movement sweeping India, gnawed at him. He was convinced that the best way to help his country was to contribute to her economic selfsufficiency. To realize this goal, he decided to manufacture products of a quality equivalent to their foreign counterparts.

It was a daunting task. Manyinthe- category status, Boroline was portrayed as ‘The Original’. In the later half of the 1990s, it stood for ‘Boroline skin, healthy skin’. In early 2000, the brand values were summed up with

‘Boroline – works wonders’.

Keeping these values in mind, Dutta chose the elephant as Boroline's logo, hoping that it would bestow luck and spell success, for what was still considered a reckless venture.The logo caught on instantaneously. In the rural heart land and for the millions who cannot read, Boroline is still known as the 'hathiwala cream' (cream with the elephant logo). Boroline's brand image is the brain child of the founder's son, Murari Mohan Dutta. A marketing genius, he pioneered concepts that were years ahead of their times. In the late 1950s, Boroline

had surged with concepts like brand image, rural marketing and event sponsorships.


In the early 1900s, Ardeshir Godrej, a lawyer steeped in principles and ideology – a man passionately committed to delivering India from colonial rule – made a decisive contribution. He created India's first toilet soap from indigenously available vegetable oils instead of imported animal fats. The mantle passed on to his nephew, Dr. Burjor Godrej, a mechanical engineer, with a prestigious doctorate in technical chemistry. He pioneered manufacturing soap with germ-killing ingredients. Cinthol Deodorant & Complexion soap was born on Independence Day in 1952.

Enriched with a unique Fougere perfume the soap received an extraordinary welcome. Cinthol Deo & complexion soap has remained unchanged in design, perfume, shape and packaging since its launch in 1952. Briefly replaced in 1986 it was brought back to its original form in the face of popular demand.


In India the history of Crocin goes back more than 40 years when it was first introduced in the market by Duphar Interfran Limited (now DIL Limited) – a Mumbai-based pharmaceutical firm. In its early days, Crocinl like several other drugs, was a prescriptive and was marketed through the ethical route.

In 1996, Duphar Interfran sold the brand to SmithKline Beecham.


Hindware The Somany Group’s flagship company, HSIL was set up in 1962 in collaboration with Twyfords of the UK. By pioneering the vitreous china line in India, it gave the very concept of sanitary ware a bold new definition. Over the last four decades, HSIL has earned respect in the Indian and international markets with itscommitment to innovation, unwavering quality and customer satisfaction.

Hindware’s manufacturing facilities at Bahadurgarh and Secunderabad are state-of-the art projects, credibly certified ISO 9001:2000(E), ISO 14001:96, as well as OHSAS 18001: 1999 for safety and health consciousness.

To meet the growing demand for Hindware products, the annual production capacity of the plant at Bibinagar, near Secunderabad, has been recently enhanced from 12,000 to 18,000 tonnes at a cost of more than Rs. 26 crore (US$ 5.50 million). This plant now has the distinction of being the largest single-location manufacturing facility in Asia.

Hero Cycles

In every crisis, says a Chinese proverb, there is an opportunity. Forced to abandon their lives in Pakistan by the traumatic fall out of the partition in 1947, four brothers Dayanand Munjal, Brijmohan Lall Munjal, Satyanand Munjal and Om Prakash Munjal did not dwell on the crisis but looked for the opportunity.They surmised accurately that people in newly independent India were in need of a cheap and convenient means of personal transport. In 1956, they established a modest manufacturing unit and made an even more modest beginning.

That year they manufactured 639 bicycles. By 1963 – in seven eventful years – they had become a household name.

To ramp up capacity, the company acquired Gujarat Cycles Limited in 1987. Renamed Munjal Auto Industries Limited, the unit was earmarked to manufacture and export state-of-the art bicycles and allied products from its fully automated plant at Waghodia.The company further scaled up capacity by establishing a second unit at Sahibabad, Uttar Pradesh in 1988.


The preserved food division of United Breweries Group (UB Group) was not doing well as compared to its liquor division. So, UB Group sold its food section along with Kissan brand to Hindustan Unilever Limited. Now Kissan is another of HUL’s Indian brand. HUL has revived and added more desi flavor to Kissan brand. Also, more items such as salt, rice, spices, chilli powder, atta, etc were added to Kissan brand and hence taking this Indian brand to another level.


Hamam, one of the oldest Indian beauty soap brands, has created itself as a trustworthy brand in the market. It is a natural soap category with low pricing. It was owned by Tata Oil Mills Company (TOMCO). It was taken over by Hindustan Unilever Limited when it acquired TOMCO in the year 1993. Hindustan Unilever Limited continues to keep this brand alive as it is one of the trusted brands with strong brand loyalty in soap segment in Indian market. HUL did try to repackage and modify the brand but they found out that by changing the composition of the soap they were loosing the loyal customers, so HUL have gone back to old composition and is using ‘trust’ and ‘quality’ as this brand’s salient points in marketing it.

Thumps Up

A cola drink introduced in 1977 to offset the expulsion of American Coca Cola Company, an Indian brand by Parle Group gained a near monopoly in India with government closing the door to foreign companies/brands. When Government of India again opened its doors to multinationals, Thumps Up lost its will to fight with its resource packed international brands vis Pepsi and Coca Cola. It sold out to Coca Cola Company in 1993 in order to make quick money after enjoying a near monopoly for almost 15 years. As Thumps Up had a huge market share, Coca Cola Company decided to keep the brand alive rather than kill it to give competition to Pepsi.


Coca Cola Company bought Indian brand Limca along with Thumps Up when the Indian government opened its door to foreign companies. It tried to kill this brand as well but found out that lemonade is a favorite of Indians during hot sweltering summers; it was revived as a tangy and refreshing drink. Limca is still one of the top brands in soft drink segment in lemon flavor. With better marketing by Coca Cola Company, this brand is still going strong.


Lakme started as a subsidiary of Tata Group in 1952. This Indian cosmetic brand was not making any profit. It had two options after perennially losses, one to close this brand and second sell it to another company. Tata Group took the second option and Lakme Limited formed a joint venture of 50-50 with Hindustan Unilever Limited in 1996 and later in year 1998 sold this brand to Hindustan Unilever Limited, a conglomerate in consumer goods sector. And today Lakme is a household name in cosmetics in India as well as abroad.

Kwality Ice Cream

This brand of ice cream found in every nooks and corner was a pioneer in the field of ice cream manufacturing in India. Kwality later ventured out from ice cream sector to restaurants. In 1995, Kwality tied up with Hindustan Unilever Limited, move that took this Indian brand to international market. Hindustan Unilever Limited introduced Kwality Walls ice cream to India and the world beyond, a very profitable venture indeed.

Viva and Maltova

This favorite Indian heath drink was brought by GlaxoSmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare Linited from Jagatjit Industries in the year 2000. Now with well known brands GlaxoSmithKline – Horlicks, Boost, Viva and Maltova – it has become a market leader in Indian health drink market. Viva has been repositioned as a traditional family health drink and Maltova as a tasty chocolate based health drink for the kids.




  1. A good array of indigenous brands.
    All accolades to the men/women behind them who had the vision.

    Your previous post of Amul too must be among these.

  2. but Unilever is not Indian?

  3. Anil: Yes.. kudo to those worked behind.. yes Amul is also another such brand..

    Renu: Unilever is a UK based company and it's Indian version is Hindustan Lever. It is owned by the British-Dutch company Unilever which controls 52% majority stake in HUL.


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