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How This Kanpur-Born Company Axed Foreign Heavyweights & Built Rs 4,900 Cr Brand

Work hard in silence and let success make all the noise

Where there is a will, there is a way. Two brothers from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh laid their lives on this principle and scaled the peak of success by doing the right thing at the right time. Their sheer dedication and hardwork of two-and-a-half-decades made them a strong competitor against huge international brands with deep pockets.

Known as ‘Detergent Kings’ Murlidhar Gyanchandani and Bimal Gyanchandani are a surprise to all those who thought that local brands can never compete against rich multinational names. In 1988, two brothers from Kanpur decided to expand their soap business and enter into the arena on detergents by launching Ghadi detergent. This was a time when Hindustan Unilever was already present in India for more than 25 years and had major market share in its control. Nirma had the edge of being number 2 in business and was enjoying a legacy which started in 1969. Nobody thought the Gyanchandani stood a chance.

Murlidhar Gyanchandani and Bimal Gyanchandani with their sons

Before entering the detergent industry the brothers had done a detailed study of the market and designed their product accordingly. This became their strength and ensured a fine strategy all all levels of business. In 1970s, Nirma had done an aggressive marketing for its brand fancying itself as a cheap yet effective detergent. This tactic became popular among the Indian household and brought great profits for the company. Ghadi used the same strategy and beat Nirma in its own game.

The Gyanchandani brothers knew that more than the money power it is the strategy which decides who wins. They decided to focus on the middle and lower middle class which makes the major share of India’s population. They began with Uttar Pradesh which is the most populous state and worked on creating a robust distribution channel which reached even the remotest villages.

At a time when everyone manufactured either yellow or blue coloured detergent, Ghadi chose its product to remain white making it more appealing. After establishing its hold on UP it moved to Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana which were also densely populated. Its famous tagline ‘Pehle istemaal karein phir vishwas karein’ made a permanent bond of trust between Ghadi and nearly one-fifth of Indians.

In 2012, it defeated its closest competitor Wheel and shocked the marketing gurus. It plays the volume game and bears the brunt of rising raw material costs rather than passing it on to its customers. To directly reach its target customers, Ghadi devised an innovative promotional strategy where it painted entire insides of several Indian trains with their advertisements. They also own Red Chief (footwear) and have operations in wind energy sector, sanitary napkin, bath soap etc.

In 2016, the brothers appeared on 92nd position in the Forbes list of richest Indians. Their combined networth is a staggering $1.2 billion (or Rs 83 billion). Murlidhar Gyanchandani owns $66 crore while brother Bimal has $54 crore under his name. In 2015, Ghadi detergent did a turnover of Rs 4,900 crore under the leadership of second generation entrepreneurs Rahul and Rohit Gyanchandani who look after product and operations respectively.

The Gyanchandanis have proved that no strength is bigger than the power of hardwork and doing your research thoroughly. At a time when nobody dared to launch opposite world leader Hindustan Unilever and products like Wheel and Nirma, Ghadi understood what the biggest segment of Indian consumers wanted and left no stones unturned to achieve success.

Kudos to their undying spirit. Share this story and spread motivation.

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