Heck sausage owner explains how the brand is being built

For independent sausage company Heck, 2014 is the year of brand awareness, following its grand launch last April.

Considering brand awareness is currently at 1%, co-founder Andrew Keeble said sales were strong and he expected to make around £3m wholesale this year.

Heck sausages are currently available in Tesco, but “we are trying to raise brand awareness by 8% through marketing activity in 2014,” he told MeatInfo.co.uk. “We are doing lots of consumer events and in-store sampling throughout the whole country.”

Although focus on ‘traditional’ promotional activity is not where Keeble’s ambition lies entirely, he said that, in two years, the bright lights of television advertising could be upon Heck.

However, the work carried out so far has not come cheap. “It’s very expensive to grow a brand from scratch, but the rewards have been fantastic,” he said. And Heck has had the extra pressure of competing with the original Keeble sausage brand ‘Debbie and Andrew’s’, which the couple sold to Vion in 2007, seven years after it was launched.

Making things trickier, Debbie and Andrew’s was sold to ABP Food Group in February this year, which the Keebles took issue with as they were not given the opportunity to buy it back.

Andrew Keeble spoke of his disappointment in a video interview with MeatInfo.co.uk shortly after the sale to ABP and said: “Our job now is to distance ourselves from the brand and to let consumers know it no longer has anything to do with us.

“Currently the packaging and marketing materials use our images, even down to our own farmhouse and wellies, and we’d hate to think that these false values were being passed on to customers to increase sales.”

Despite issues with the old brand earlier in the year, Heck has been going from strength to strength and sales of sausages in the summer reached 1m packs. “We have got another two retailers lined up for next year and we hope to get another retailer lined up before Christmas this year,” he said.

“We have spent a lot of money and have built the bricks of the marketing towards 20- to 45-year-olds. We’re bringing them in from other categories.

“For us, it’s about owning the super-premium category – we think it is there for the taking – and supporting it is what it’s really about.”