Thorntons takes on Mars with new product launch

Thorntons, the struggling upmarket confectionery manufacturer, is launching a mainstream product to rival Mars Celebrations and Cadbury’s Miniature Heroes.

The confectionery company is developing the product and hopes to begin trials before Christmas.

The initiative is part of a drive by Thorntons to create a new image for its stores through family-focused advertising.

The company has increased its annual marketing spend from &£5m in 1998 to &£8m this year.

New TV and press ads through Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/ Y&R are designed to appeal to families rather than Thorntons’ current target market of 25- to 55-year-old women.

Marketing director Helen Wilcox, who took up her post in January, will lead the drive.

The company this week announced a 7.5 per cent increase in sales to &£94.3m for the six months to January 8. But it was “disappointed” with a fall in profits from &£12.1m to &£10.1m over the same period.

Thorntons finance director Martin Allen says: “Our customers see us as a shop for special occasions, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day. We want to show them we have much more to offer on a day-to-day basis.

“We hope to increase our share of the impulse market. We’re looking to put a new product into a market dominated by Celebrations and Heroes.”

Thorntons chief executive Roger Paffard recently quit the company by mutual consent after the company was forced to issue a profit warning.

Paffard’s duties are being carried out by chairman John Thornton until a replacement is found.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here