ECA talks to Helena Flynn at interior design brand Andrew Martin
- Give us the elevator pitch. Tell us all about your brand
Andrew Martin is not like any other brand. It has a mind and will of its own; it’s a little bit mad and bad but at the same time deadly cool and sophisticated. In the world of Andrew Martin, there is never a dull moment—the next surprise or adventure is always just round the corner.
- Why was Andrew Martin set up and what has kept it so relative over the years?
Andrew Martin was founded in 1978 because founder, Martin Waller, fell in love with the theatre of retail and what Barbara Hulanicki did at Big Biba, the iconic department store on Kensington High Street. It was about bringing excitement, anticipation, and theatre to the shopping experience by immersing people in designs and artefacts from every corner of the world, and every age of human achievement.
The brand has kept relevant because of its constant restlessness: its unwavering quest for exploration and adventure makes it a leader not a follower. Andrew Martin does not succumb to the tyranny of trends; it doesn’t believe in them –looking instead to influences across time, peoples and geographies as the guiding signposts to shape its way.
- What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far?
The re-platforming of the Andrew Martin website in 2017. This was a vast project with many moving parts – from technical legacy system and haulier integrations to creative design and reams and reams of content creation. There were certainly moments when I felt overwhelmed and thought the whole project would fall down around me!
- What would you say has been Andrew Martin’s biggest marketing success?
The pinnacle of the marketing calendar has always been the annual Andrew Martin International Interior Designer of the Year Awards. The Awards were originally set up to fill the void in the recognition of extraordinary talent in interior design and to put designers on a global stage. Now in its 25th year, it has grown exponentially, attracting more than 1000 entries from China alone. Previous winners of the awards are a ‘who’s who’ of the design firmament from Kelly Hoppen (way back in 1996) to Axel Vervoordt, Thomas Pheasant and Jamie Drake.
- What has been the biggest mistake you made?
Hiring the wrong person. In the words of Walt Disney, ‘You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.’
- Tell us about your ecommerce plans for the future
In some ways, our plans never change: for us, it is always the relentless desire to connect and inspire our customers that takes centre stage. However, the tools available to achieve our plans do evolve. Product visualization technology, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence are three key areas of focus this year. Beyond this, increasing customer loyalty, improving the relevance of our communications with our customers (through data analytics) as well as strengthening the brand image will all play important roles in our plans. Above all, we are looking to build emotional connections with our customers at every touchpoint, creating clear aspirations about what buying from Andrew Martin means and the sort of lifestyle they can have when they step into the world of Andrew Martin.
Do let me know if you’re interested in hearing from the lights&lamps founder who’d be happy to discuss their progress since launching at the beginning of the Covid pandemic.