Thornton’s: Back to the future | KHWS

Thornton’s: Back to the future

Behavioural Insight

Growing up in the early 90s, Thornton’s were very much a mainstay of the British high street. I remember it being a real occasion, a treat, to visit the local Thornton’s chocolate shop to buy a box of chocolate – it was often the go-to choice for the perfect Mother’s Day gift!

The downturn

Since the turn of the century, Thornton’s undoubtedly lost their way from their traditional roots. The Thornton’s brand, previously synonymous with craftsmanship and quality, became heavily watered down by the company’s decision to sell high volume, at reduced prices, through supermarket stores such as Asda and Tesco.

The ‘theatre’ of the company’s chocolate shops had also eroded no thanks to un-inspiring displays with chocolates now sold in robot-packed boxes. The company’s once famous slogan ‘The Art of the Chocolatier’ ultimately became vacuous.

This ultimately culminated in Thornton’s failing to distinguish itself within the premium category alongside names such as Green & Black’s and Hotel Chocolat, while still charging a higher price than mass-market Cadbury’s or Mars.

Turning the corner?

In July 2015, it was announced that Ferrero had bought Thornton’s for £112m. The first major announcement since then came in early August when Ferrero declared that they were to invest £4.9m in media spend to promote the brand’s relaunch.

The campaign promises to refocus on craftsmanship and building an emotional connection with customers, as well as appealing to a younger audience. Thornton’s will screen their first TV ad for seven years and will run it throughout the 2016 festive period.

Ferrero UK customer development director, Levi Boorer, acknowledges the challenges surrounding the Thornton’s brand; “We believe we can create enough pull to allow our retailers to sell our products without relying too much on deep discounting.”

Only time will tell as to whether the new campaign will prove to be a success, however there can be no doubt that Thornton’s needs to roll the dice and bring back the creative quality that it was once known for.

Thornton’s is a classic case of a company failing to evolve, losing touch with its customer base and being overtaken by its competitors as a consequence. Perhaps looking for the next radical innovation may be the strategy that pays dividends for Ferrero – as it did for Hotel Chocolat.