Mandy Minichiello on her career and dream kitchens
Wickes' head of marketing for showroom, PR and social talks about how the home improvement retailer is not just attracting the building trade but also everyday DIYers
18 September 2023
Wickes - the home improvement retailer - attracts the serious DIYers and the building trade. The retailer has been attempting to change its perception as a brand "for all customers looking to improve their home."
To raise awareness of its it entry-level kitchen units, it launched its first-ever free kitchen design consultation for all customers earlier this summer. A new campaign, created by VCCP, highlighted the showrooms, kitchen and bathrooms side of the business and also showcased a unique hybrid virtual design service available to everyone.
The spot centres around one of Wickes’s design consultants, who quite literally cannot rest until she has identified the ideal Wickes units to bring her clients’ dream kitchens to life - regardless of their price bracket. The consultant then wakes up in the middle of the night, running through which units work together to achieve the desired requirements for her customers. The ad then cuts to the finished product where the homeowners at either end of the spectrum are enjoying their new kitchens.
Wickes head of showroom, PR and social marketing Mandy Minichiello, hopes that the brand’s new product development strategy and market leading innovations will continue to aid Wickes in competing with other DIY kitchen brands. We sat down with Minichiello to find out more about her desires for the brand.
Creative Salon: How did you get into marketing and what do you enjoy most about it?
Mandy Minichiello: I did a Management Science Business degree at Loughborough University and was immediately drawn to marketing in which I specialised in my final year. I was determined to get a marketing job, however it was tough as I graduated in 1992 in the middle of a recession. Marketing jobs were few and far between and I ended up on the graduate scheme at Diageo in sales. I would definitely advocate getting a foot in the door, and after a year of valuable commercial experience, I moved across to marketing, working on Guinness. I’ve essentially stayed in marketing for the past 30 years. I love the variety, the fast pace, constantly learning, being right in the heart of the organisation and seeing the impact marketing can deliver.
CS: Given your vast experience in retail, what made you decide to move into DIY and home improvement retail?
Minichiello: After five years at Guinness, I decided to move from FMCG and switch to retail at Tesco where I worked in various marketing roles in both the main business followed by Tesco.com where I moved around the channels and ended up running all marketing for the grocery website. Highlights were launching Click and Collect, Delivery saver and the real food recipe site. After 20 years, it was time for a change and the world of DIY drew me in as it was the total opposite of what I had previous experience in. The purchase of a new kitchen or bathroom entails a high purchase price, long consideration time, and a complex customer journey - all very different to doing a weekly grocery shop. However at the heart of it was targeting customers with brilliant products, a great service and the marketing skills were very transferable.
CS: Tell us about the aims of your recent campaign. What do you hope to achieve by focusing the promotion of your kitchen installation service around a design consultant?
Minichiello: The kitchen is the heart of a home and it’s crucial to get the design right as so much time is spent there cooking, eating, working and entertaining. We want to convey that we now offer a free personalised design service across both our Wickes Bespoke and Wickes Lifestyle kitchen collections. So whether you’re just setting out and it’s your first home, or it’s your forever home where you’ll be for many years,, everyone can get the kitchen of their dreams, regardless of budget.
We centred our campaign around one of Wickes’ Design Consultants, who quite literally can’t rest until she has identified the ideal design to bring her clients’ dream kitchens to life. During the AV, we see our Consultant wake in the middle of the night, thinking through which units work together to achieve the desired requirements for her customers - until we cut to the finished product where we see each of the Kitchen ranges brought to life with the homeowners enjoying their new kitchens.
CS: What are your ambitions for the brand and how will your work and role contribute to those ambitions?
Minichiello: At Wickes our overarching brand mantra is to inspire the nation to be house proud. Our brand's ongoing creative platform ‘House Proud’ and latest campaign features people showing off homes of all sizes and is designed to appeal to the post-pandemic ‘housebarrassed’ shoppers. Our desire to help customers feel house proud grew out of the pandemic, and it became the perfect storm for us as well as the main motivator behind the campaign. Our belief is that no matter what your budget is as a customer, we want everyone to get their perfect dream kitchen or bathroom with all the products that they need.
We still have a perception that Wickes is a brand predominantly for tradespeople but we want to get across the fact that we’re actually a brand for all customers looking to improve their home, as well as the trade. One of the ways we do this is by working with a lot of influencers on social platforms across kitchens and bathrooms as well as DIY to provide inspiring, modern and achievable content that customers can achieve in their own homes.
CS: How does your strategy consider rival DIY and home improvement brands?
Minichiello: In order to maximise everyone's budgets we offer expert Design Consultants to help maximise space and execute the best design possible. When it comes to kitchens, through research we know that our customers buy the best they can afford, rather than the cheapest they can get. Our range of Wickes Lifestyle Kitchens offer exceptional value - starting from just £1,000 - and are available to pick up in store or order for home delivery. Our Wickes Bespoke Kitchen collection benefits from over 50 kitchen styles, 20 year guarantees on all cabinets and a team of trusted installers who’ll take care of everything from start to finish. Across both our ranges we also offer a one stop shop as customers can purchase all the flooring, paint, tiles and lighting with Wickes making the whole transformation a little bit easier. In this regard our offering and strategy is unique within our industry and I’m excited to be able to reach a whole new audience with our new approach.
CS: What advice would you have for marketers to get the best out of their agency partners?
Minichiello: Like any relationship, I believe that it starts with really knowing your partners and cultivating a long-term partnership mindset. It is important to take the time to really understand them and vice versa. Trust and respect are also foundational elements when wanting to get the best out of your agency partners. At Wickes, we value our partners' input and perspectives, which helps us to foster a collaborative environment where ideas can be freely shared.
CS: What advice would you give to someone thinking of getting a job in marketing?
Minichiello: Marketing has changed so much over the years and now contains very varied jobs which appeal to very different types of people. I would say to get breadth early on and not specialise too soon, so you can find out which part of marketing really appeals and where you can excel. You’ll likely learn more from the jobs you don’t like, than the ones you do. Be constantly curious and enjoy learning new things and experimenting. And lastly - network - it’s really important to have people in and out of work to talk to, to listen to and bounce ideas off.