Ujala — 4 Drops to Success

Ujala has shown a strong willingness and resilience as it has faced competition and successfully countered it


S Vejay Anand

a year ago | 2 min read

Customers may credit Ujala’s inventor, Moothedath Panjan Ramachandran, whose insistence on wearing spotless white garments every day is reported to have inspired the product’s creation.

MP Ramachandran was an accountant for a Mumbai-based chemical firm in the ‘70s.

In 1983, after the firm had been shut after 14 years, he opened a new enterprise in Kandanassery, Thrissur district, and named it after his daughter Jyothy. He spent his savings of Rs 5,000 searching for the finest fabric whitener. After more than a year of experimenting with various chemicals and mixtures, he came up with a liquid cloth whitener that was purple in colour.

The year 1983 saw the introduction of Jyothy Laboratories’ Ujala. In addition to distribution, he engaged six salesgirls to market the product directly to local housewives.

After a few months, just as he was about to close shop due to poor sales, a distributor in Malappuram, Kerala placed an order for 1,000 bottles of Ujala.

The ascent to success

It was not simple. Powdered bleaches and blues were the only options for fabric whiteners up to that point. Their purpose was to complement detergents by increasing the brightness and whiteness of garments. The customer had to be convinced to try Ujala by explaining its benefits, assuring them that the purple dye wouldn’t stain their clothing (unlike with blue whiteners), and demonstrating that the liquid Ujala dissolved entirely in water (unlike powdered).

Products like Reckitt Benckiser’s Robin Blue and Pidilite Industries’ Ranipal All White were giving the brand a run for its money. When Ujala was originally introduced in the 1980s, Robin Blue was the undisputed market leader among blue fabric whiteners.

(Today, however, Robin has just 3% of the market. Ujala was instrumental in the transition from powder blue to liquid blue when the former was often used to whiten clothing).

In 1986, customers were so excited about Ujala that the company ran print and radio ads asking for their feedback and offering a prize for the most useful one.

The corporation expanded into Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu in the next decade. Jyothy Laboratories Ltd. was formally established in 1993. (JLL).

A short time later, Ujala won the southern market, and in 1994, it made a bold move by going after the then-Lion of the “whitener” world where it was most comfortable: in its own backyard. Ujala went to West Bengal in an effort to compete with Robin Blue.

Identifiable by its catchy tune

Ujala was able to break into Robin Blue’s stronghold thanks to a publicity and marketing campaign. Robin Blue’s dominance in the fabric whitener market was ultimately toppled by the now-iconic “Aaya naya Ujala — chaar boondon wala” commercial.

Around Rs100 crore was Jyothy Laboratories’ annual income in 1997. In just one year, Ramachandran spent Rs36 crore on ads for Ujala. The company’s account was managed by Situations Advertising and Marketing Services Pvt. Ltd. Ujala was in high demand amongst merchants all around the nation thanks to a big advertising spend and an unforgettable jingle.

JLL quickly developed both organically through internal expansion and inorganically through strategic acquisitions designed to complement the company’s existing offerings. In 2011, it accomplished a massive coup by purchasing a majority share in Henkel India, whose holdings included well-known household names like Henko and Pril.

JLL was prepared to go public in 2007, and the company’s headquarters were relocated to Mumbai the following year. Products that had first debuted in some regions of India were made available to consumers throughout the country.



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S Vejay Anand

CXO, mentor, consultant, entrepreneur, executive, columnist, husband, father, son, politically aware and neutral, herbivore, pro animal life







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