History & Marketing Strategies of Surf Excel Brand

Daag Acche Hai

Company Name – Surf Excel
Founder – Unilever 

Surf Excel is the first detergent powder of India and Pakistan. It was launched as a replacement of bar soap, indiscriminately used by housewives. The product was initially launched in Pakistan in 1948 and then in India in 1959. It was known as Surf and later in 1996 its name was changed to Surf Excel. The product name is presently replacing the word detergent powder in the entire country. 

Launching History

Starting its journey in India in 1959, Surf remained the first detergent in the sub-continent. This product from Unilever and later called HUL or Hindustan Unilever showed their urge to replace the bar soaps. It is mostly used by the households and families in the Indian Sub-continent.

Meant for the purpose of householders, it targeted the middle-income group of the nation because they hold the major share in the entire population of the continent. Surf not only created history in India from the angle of first detergent powder but also remained the first detergent brand to come on the TV screen. 

The journey of Surf since 1959

From the journey of Surf to the replacement name of detergent powder in India shows its popularity in the nation. The product has been constantly innovated and modified with time, in order to get an edge over the competitors. It also helps to retain its market share. 

Here goes a summarized form of its entire timeline, as it launched new products – 

  • HUL or Hindustan Unilever is a company running its business from pre-independence time. But Surf had remained a presentation from the company since 1959. It had found great success in Pakistan, after its launch in 1948. But in India, Surf created a new history. 
  • In 1990, to get an edge over its uprising competitors, Surf launched its first sub-product and named it Surf Ultra. The product became very much handy for the householders of India because people already used the word Surf to denote detergent powder. 
  • Surf Excel totally led the monopoly stage until the 1990s.  Only then it found its competitors to raise voice after 30 years of its launch in the sub-continent. In 1996, Surf changed its name to Surf Excel to show its robust and drastic marketing practice and market capturing ability. 
  • In 2002, to get an edge over Ariel from P&G, Surf Excel launched Matic detergent powder. It came with low lather for washing machines, announcing its dedicated service for the Indian housewives. 
  • 2004 remained the year when Surf Excel extended their product line with Quickwash. This gave another edge to their brand name. It also helped them to retain their hold in the market share over the competitors, like Ariel, Tide, Nirma, and others. 
  • The latest innovation from the company was in the form of bar soap with Rin being a competitor. It was merged with Surf Excel and came to be known as Sur Excel Bar from 2007. 
  • In the later years, Surf Excel developed Easywash. They also launched the liquid version of all Matic named Quickwash. It helped them to remain a pioneer in the detergent market of the sub-continent. 

Surf created a new history in India with its Promotional strategy

One of the key reasons for Surf to capture the Indian market successfully is its appropriation of Niche. Unlike targeting the whole market, it targeted the middle-income group and the householders. However, in terms of promotion, Surf Excel made some miracle in the Indian market. The sensation had such a root that, the entire name of detergent powder has been replaced by Surf. 

From the beginning itself, it focussed on the TV screen. Perhaps they assumed it to be the future knowledge box of the middle class. One after another, it telecasted important messages as taglines. Alongside with that, applied some easy techniques to attract the middle class towards it. Here are some of the best strategies that it followed to find immense success – 

  • Surf Excel Telecasted Lalitaji as the middle-class housewife in reply to the star-casts of its competitors. Thus, they established itself as the most essential household product for all Indian families. 
  • ‘Jaise Bhi Daag Ho… Surf Excel Hai Na!’ is the tag of them, they adopted next. It showed the confidence its consumers are having on it. The tagline also made it very much popular to the next generation, standing at the dawn moment of Y2K. 
  • It then came up with a campaign – ‘Do Bucket Pani ab Rojhana hi Bachana’. This campaign marked its technique adopting skill and with that established householder’s ease for using it. This particular campaign promoted their Quickwash product perfectly. 
  • ‘Daag Accha Hain’ remained their latest tagline from 2005. Till now this tag is standing out from them with different changes in TV ads. This tagline made a real difference for them. Because it shows the philosophical relation of dirt with humanity and hence providing a social message to all. 
  • In 2006, Surf Excel 1010 offered INR 5 lakh scholarship for students, alongside with ‘Dirt is good’. This particular campaign helped Surf to make a comeback with a new approach. 
  • Finally saying, Surf Excel sprang itself to some useful packet versions, making it available at all stores and in all forms. For daily use at home to usage in trips and travels, it established itself as the detergent of the nation. One of the main facilities are the Surf Excel is available in different size of packets. 


To conclude, one thing must be said about Surf Excel. It is the oldest brand of detergent powder of the nation and it established the age-old proverb, ‘Old is Gold’. Many big brands came to market. Some of them retained their hold in the market and some perished. But Surf Excel always maintained their product quality. They edged above the competitors in terms of TV Ads.

Moreover, with a rigorous marketing approach, they claimed its position at the top of all. It is one of the oldest indigenous brands of the nation and it showed its supremacy in the market in style. In simple words, this brand is a perfect lesson to be followed by all other brands and companies. 

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