Andersen Corp. says its new app promises to be a real eye-opener about windows.
Typically, architects, designers and dealers are the ones who sell windows, leaving common consumers clueless about how to choose them. But Andersen’s interactive iPad app helps homeowners avoid architectural faux pas — like buying Tudor-style windows for a Craftsman bungalow.
“This is the first marketing approach like this in the industry,” said Greg Thompson, marketing director for the Andersen Division. “We started with the idea that as a homeowner, you are not just picking windows. You are designing your home. This app brings that point to life.”
The Andersen Home Style Library app is the company’s first to be designed with end-consumers in mind and comes after months of pilot testing with architects and their clients. The launch is one of a trio of fresh marketing efforts by the normally quiet Bayport-based giant that makes more than 6 million windows and doors each year.
The opportunity to bungle a home remodel is vast, because architectural styles vary widely. There are Craftsman bungalows, brick Georgian Federals, Queen Annes, Spanish Colonials, Tudors, Ranches and French Eclectic, to name a few, Thomas said. The app is one tool to help homeowners get remodels right.
The app lets homeowners browse pictures of different types of homes until they find an architectural style that resembles their own house. Further clicks lead them to architecturally appropriate options for window grills, casements, sills, framing and hardware. Users can even virtually “paint” by clicking on color or wood combinations.
The artsy, educational app is free through iTunes and was unveiled June 21 at the American Institute of Architecture in Denver.
Currently, Andersen’s app features just two styles — Georgian and Craftsman homes. Six more styles will roll out in the coming months.
The seed for the interactive technology grew from the home architecture pattern books that Andersen spent years researching before introducing last year. Each book details the classic features of a home. The books became popular with architects looking to help bewildered clients understand home design and make smart choices.
The new app has turned the pattern books into an interactive tool and placed it in the hands of anyone considering a building or remodeling project, Thompson said. The app took months to develop and required a “significant investment,” which Thompson declined to disclose.
But the app is not the only trick up the sleeve of a company that weathered the housing bust with significant layoffs and scaled-back production. Now that housing is picking up again, privately held Andersen is becoming bolder with marketing.
In October, it unveiled a new website with the help of Modern Climate. In February it launched a new rewards program for builders in eight Northeastern states.
That program works like a frequent-flier reward program and offers contractors points redeemable for vacations, golf clubs, gift cards and other prizes when they spend a certain amount on Andersen products. If the program, which is being administered by BI Worldwide in Edina, proves successful this year, then Andersen will roll it out nationwide, said spokeswoman Laurie Bauer.
“So far, it’s been really well-received,” Thompson said. “What is unique about it is that it is a coalition program that includes companies like BASF, Dupont, General Electric and others. So builders can combine points from purchases made across companies. It’s very accessible.”
Thompson may just be the guy to know about building accessible brands. In May, he joined Andersen from Medina-based Polaris Industries, where he headed the marketing for Polaris’ Global Electric Motorcars division. Before that, the West Point graduate and civil engineer worked at General Mills and marketed household brands such as Old El Paso and Cascadian Farm.
“I am super excited to be here. It’s a great time to be joining Andersen,” Thompson said.