Flicking through the London Evening Standard last week I noticed a headline saying that Hotel Chocolat had overtaken Thorntons on profit for the first time.
The article stated that its pre-tax profits had jumped 144% in six months to December 2014, along with sales which had risen by 9.5%.
While I happen to have a great fondness for Thorntons, I suspect their recent problems lie partly in their absence of a single-minded focus.
This becomes apparent when you see a brand that consistently delivers a simple and clear narrative – such as Hotel Chocolat. Reading through the article, I found comments from CEO and founder Angus Thirwell to be fascinating and insightful.
He said consumers are now becoming more discerning with their chocolate choices, which suggests they have developed greater insight into their changing tastes and preferences.
Thirwell explains that, contrary to common conception, cocoa is healthy and it’s actually the sugar that’s the problem. This is why Hotel Chocolat reduce the sugar content of their products and increase the amount of cocoa.
Their chocolate is more expensive but he says the cost per gram of cocoa (the healthy stuff) is the same as other brands, and the reason for it being more expensive is that there is more of it, and that it is better for you.
But do they take their brand and align it through action?
The short answer is yes.
For a start, they have a School of Chocolate at Cocoa Vaults in London, where you can discover the secrets of the cocoa, go on chocolate-making sessions and tasting events, and attend all kinds of unique parties and events for everyone from kids to corporate teams.
When speaking about his brand he talked about a ‘big theme’ of ‘healthy luxury’, covering topics like reconciling hedonism and opulence, and the trend of treating yourself responsibly.
Healthy luxury therefore is their big theme – a single-minded thought.
Here at Brand Vista we understand that successful brands are driven by single-minded aspirations.
Thirwell also vows that they will not start selling the brand through supermarkets (as Thorntons had done) but has set up concessions in John Lewis… Well there’s a surprise.