Sensible Dave: Perfecting your product to launch at the right time

Hi Sensible Dave, what is your business?

Sensible Dave is a luxury food brand that we set up and launched in April. The initial range consists of three granola recipes that I have been tinkering with for about twenty five years!  From deciding to commercially produce the granola to seeing the boxes on the shelves, took a period of 7 months. 

We were incredibly lucky in that the product range - The Original One, The Strawberry One and The Berry One - went straight into Harrods Food Hall, so this was something of a coup for us. Since the Spring we have been in discussions with distributors and the number of retailers that stock our brand is increasing. We are now available in 32 independent delis and farm shops around the country.

Where did the idea come from?

Well, I first came across granola when I was working in the US in the early 1990’s and really fell for it in a big way and started to experiment with my own recipes. I love to cook so it’s always been something I’ve done for pleasure - to have a go at making things up… I’m quite hands on and practically minded, which I guess in part is how my nickname - Sensible Dave originated.

I have always thought it would be fun to launch a food brand as it combines my sales and marketing background with my love of good food! So it has been quite a fluid process over a number of years to get the Sensible Dave show on the road.

What inspired you to create your own business?

In 2012, my partner Kath and I bought The New White Lion in the beautiful Brecon Beacons. It is a small, but lovely boutique hotel, marketed under the Mr and Mrs Smith banner. Kath is the one that keeps the business on track and I’m on hand to do the cooking. It was then that I really started to think that there might be some commercial appeal in my granola recipes.

Guests always commented how tasty it was and some requested to take samples home with them! We’re still running the hotel and we have developed Sensible Dave in conjunction with the existing business so it continues to be a juggling act sometimes. 

How important was it to wait for the right time?

It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to wait. I always felt I had a “brand” in me, and the favourable guest reaction to our granola, convinced me that it would be the perfect launch product. In the past 12 months, the niche granolas have started to appear on the supermarket shelves. Consequently, an opportunity opened up in the deli and farm shop sector. Kath said “let’s go for it”. So we did! 

So what made you wait so long to launch Sensible Dave?

It was more a case of taking the time to find the right partners to work with to get the business firmly established commercially. We have committed a lot of years to perfecting the product so when we finally achieved the taste we wanted - the other elements had to mirror this level of commitment and investment too. 

My other nickname could be ‘Fastidious Dave’ but this didn’t have quite the same ring! There has been a lot of thought that has gone into the packaging and how we present the brand – it has all been a collaborative process. We have actively sought businesses to work with that have different strengths and skills but who all share our vision for Sensible Dave. 

The industry is competitive and growing, did this worry you?

To be honest, no we’re not worried. We are certain in the quality of our product and also have a clear vision of the market we are hoping to attract. Last week we were selected as ‘Best Cereal’ in the first ever Great British Food Farm Produce Awards and in general the feedback we’ve received has been so positive that I don’t have concerns about other brands.

What was the thinking behind the branding and how important is brand awareness?

Kath and I really wanted to convey a quirky sense of fun. We were looking for a brand character that represented good, honest, and dare I say it – ‘old fashioned’ values but to do this in an engaging and accessible way. Our retro styled Sensible Dave flies the flag for British produce - wherever possible - and has a nice wardrobe of kipper ties. We felt there this character gave us opportunities to entertain and develop a whole world around him as the brand grows. 

What are Sensible Dave's plans for the future?

Sensible Dave is currently very busy! There is an organic granola in development and we are researching new product lines as well. There are opportunities to sell into food service as well as retail so it’s an exciting time. We will be bringing everyone that has been involved in the development of the brand together in the middle of August at the New White Lion. This gives us an opportunity to reflect and share new ideas.

With these strong relationships in place we are looking forward to Sensible Dave growing.

You can find out more about Sensible Dave by visiting their website, following them on Twitter and liking their Facebook page 

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