Debbie and Andrew Keeble told their journey from pig farmers to producing the UK’s top-selling premium sausages at the 2010 IGD Convention.
Pig farmers in South Yorkshire for 20 years, Debbie and Andrew set up their sausage company in 1999.
“We had worked in every stage of production from birth to plate,” said Debbie, “but we had to offer something new.
“We could not compete with the supermarkets’ own label because who would stock us.”
Debbie said the goal was to become Britain’s best loved sausages but key was knowing the customer.
Andrew stressed the importance of winning feedback from customers and how it had shaped and moulded the business.
Shoppers were delighted to discover the couple had made the sausages, he said, and there were ‘real people’ behind the business. The company also highlights their hands on involvement on pack.
“Our customers did not want voice mail with press one for this, two for that,” he said. “They wanted a real person or they would take their business elsewhere.”
Andrew described the company as a customer-owned business and said complaining customer was its best friend.
“We get hundreds of emails every week but there is a danger if you ignore the complaints. It only takes a few minutes but for a small brand like ours, dialogue is so much better than monologue.”
Andrew said the brand was the number one in the super premium branded category and had driven 70% incremental growth in the sector by bringing new people into the market.
“Customers care about food quality and are happy to pay more and prefer to buy sausages from sausage people,” he said.
“We’ve discovered a more widespread need, people that would not ordinarily buy sausages.”
Consumer insights have been invaluable but the company would not win with a single advantage, he said, but focusing on customers, not competitors, would help it win the war.
“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will. The consumer is queen, knowledge is king and the future is a very exciting place to be.”