Huel has rejected the status quo for a new brand. It has abandoned target audiences, rejected niche appeal and advertises its products purely on social over traditional means—to enormous success. So how does a brand go from start-up to household name without all of the above? In this blog, we are going to be discussing how Huel built their empire.
British-based Huel has experienced huge growth, now selling 50 million ‘meals’ a year. It’s riding the growing wave of veganism, and sustainability, its CEO says.
In 2015 serial entrepreneur Julian Hearn launched Huel, a powered food product that he lauds as being “nutritionally complete”. The UK-based company – a portmanteau for ‘human fuel’ – came about after Hearn’s previous venture Bodyhack, a fitness program, saw him become healthier and leaner than he’d ever been. While Hearn relished the results of the program, he didn’t enjoy the time spent preparing and cooking the meals necessary to maintain his health and physique.
Success with Huel
Huel is a powdered meal replacement designed for busy, time-poor people. Ingredients include oats, pea protein, flaxseed, brown rice protein, a bespoke vitamin and mineral blend and vanilla flavour, with optional flavour, boosts such as strawberry, banana, chocolate, cappuccino and chocolate mint. Users mix it with water or plant-based milk in a portable beaker, and the company claims it contains all the proteins, carbohydrates and fats a person needs on a daily basis. The entire range, which includes snack bars and cereals, is vegan and made with minimal waste and packaging (all the ingredients make it into the products and the powder has a shelf life of 12 months).
Since its inception three years ago, the company has seen consistent fast growth. It logged £1.3 million in pre-tax profits in 2016 on £5.8 million in sales, up from just £800,000 in revenues in the first year of business in 2015. In 2017, Huel reached £14.1 million in turnover and is on track for a 220% increase in global turnover this year to £45 million.
The company’s growth to date is also due to its decision to sell its products to consumers directly from its own website (with a very small percentage via Amazon), cutting out third-party distributors and retailers. Huel is currently sold in 55 countries and this connection with its customers – the majority of whom are early adopters aged 25-45 with a 70/30 male-female split – provides it with valuable intel in regards to what territories to launch into. “We can easily see what the most popular countries outside the UK are, and once we get enough orders from a country, we roll out a dedicated website in the local language and currency with customer support in that local language,” says Hearn.