The ‘Shampoo in a Sachet’ Revolution

shampoo sachets

Shampoo had previously been out of reach for the general public. Chinni Krishnan and Velvette changed this with shampoo in sachets

An agriculturist named Chinni Krishnan also worked in the pharmaceutical industry. Poor kids wandering the streets with uncombed hair used to bother him. He envisioned a future where the average person would have the same options as the wealthy. He often said, “Whatever I make, I want the coolies and the rickshaw pullers to use. I want to make my products affordable to them.”

Chinni Krishnan
Chinni Krishnan

Talcum powders back then were sold in expensive tin tins. He divided it up into 100-gram, 50-gram, and 20-gram packets and sold them at a discount. With Epsom salt, he followed the same procedure. Even liquids, he was certain, could be packed in sachets.

Chinni Krishnan began by adapting a device used for sealing PVC folders, and then used a clear hose pipe often used for watering plants. A watertight seal was placed on one end of the clear plastic container before he topped it up with more water and finished sealing it. The preliminary test failed to provide desirable results. Instead of settling for the first thing he attempted, he kept exploring variations on the theme until he found the one that worked. This led to the development of the sachet. He sold sachets of hair oil, honey, and shampoo in and around Cuddalore,

Chinni Krishnan was brilliant in the lab but lacked marketing skills. With the conviction that “this is going to be the product of the future,” he set out to make a living off of sachet sales. He passed away much too soon to see his hope realised.

Chinni Krishnan passed away in 1979, only a few years after entering the sachet industry. He was just 48 years old. His monthly income ranged from around Rs 5000 to Rs 10000. After his death, it was discovered that he had borrowed Rs 2 lakhs from the State Bank of India. When the loan was not paid back, the bank threatened to sell the family’s mortgaged home at auction. His sons, Rajkumar, a doctor, & Ashok Kumar, a lawyer, both quit their careers and took over the family company despite knowing nothing about it. Velvette Shampoo was introduced in a convenient sachet format, with a price of Rs 1 per sachet. Dr Rajkumar is responsible for the success of Velvette Shampoo. He enlisted Godrej Soaps’ assistance as sales picked up so he could expand into other areas.

Dr Rajkumar fulfilled his father’s dream, but today it is Chinni Krishnan’s younger son, C.K. Ranganathan, Chairman and Managing Director of CavinKare. Despite his lack of academic qualifications, a disagreement with his brothers about how the family firm should be run, combined with the entrepreneurial energy he inherited from his father, led him to leave the business at a young age. He developed the now-iconic Chik (Chik is an anagram of his father’s name, Chinni Krishnan), selling it for Rs. 1 per sachet too.

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