What this brand is doing to take a firm hold of the rental goods market

A rebrand of three previously distinct and separate business aims to bring Australians a new approach to renting products

Rebranding a company is rarely easy, and that task can be made even more difficult when you are also trying to change perceptions of the category within which you operate. But then to do that in an economy already been buffeted by COVID-19 lockdowns and a looming recession?

For the newly created rental brand, Snaffle, those final factors may actually work to its benefit, as previous recessions have shown the rental industry can do well when people’s discretionary income is limited.

But for Snaffle chief marketing officer, Paul Winslow, that means having to quickly establish a new brand with the right attributes in a category that has suffered from negative perceptions based on the actions of other participants.

“It’s a sad fact of life that as people have less money to spend, rental becomes more of an option,” Winslow tells CMO. “We want to be in a situation where people say ‘these guys helped me through this time’.”

Snaffle is the agglomeration of three existing rentals businesses. Two of them, Make It Mine and Essential Appliance Rentals, were brought together into a streamlined operation in late 2020, although to date the brands have remained in place.

In early 2020, the company purchased the assets of veteran brand, Radio Rentals, in South Australia, which had operated as a separate company to the rest of Radio Rentals, operated by Thorn Group, for some years. Coincidentally, in September 2019 the Thorn Group had to pay out $29 million to settle a class action suit following allegations that it had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and that its contracts contained unfair terms. In April, Thorn Group announced it would be permanently closing Radio Rentals’ 62 stores (outside of South Australia).

While Winslow says this legal outcome had no bearing on the South Australian entity his company had acquired, the brand story had become irrevocably caught up with the brand owned by Thorn Group, and a change was needed.

“We were already thinking about this from an Essential/Make it Mine point of view, as to whether we should have one brand, because form a marketing point of view it is a nightmare because we were trying to sell the same product under two different brands,” Winslow says. “Then there is this huge confusion about what is Radio Rentals, which when you are an online busines, becomes hugely complex.

“The decision we came to was these are old brands, and we thought it was time to freshen it all up and come up with a brand that was contemporary.”

With that decision made, the hard task of finding a suitable new brand identity began. “Naming a company now is so difficult,” Winslow says.

“We had to find a name that we liked, that we could trademark and get a domain name that we liked, but and was something we could own as a word. We went through a lot of different options. We wanted a verb, and wanted to get away from the word rental, because it has been tarnished a little bit.”

That led them to Snaffle, as a term related to the idea of taking something.

“We were into the idea of ‘don’t buy it, snaffle it’,” Winslow says. “The more we worked with it, the more we realised that it actually worked.

“Within eight weeks we were up and running with a new brand and a new business, having merged customer service teams and CRMs. It was an insane time to be doing something like this and launch the brand at the same time, but it is what we had committed to.”

The company has now begun taking the new brand to market through television advertising and an extensive pay-per-click campaign.

While Winslow says the objective now is to build the brand, he is also aware there is a significant amount of education that needs to take place around what Snaffle brings to the rentals market.

“We have this real vision of changing he perception of the rental industry as it stands,” Winslow says. “Rentals has traditional been for ‘people who need’. We want to change it to ‘people who want’.”

Snaffle offers many premium brands, including the latest Samsung and Apple devices, and is promoting itself as an affordable way for people to get hold of the things they don’t just think they need, but deserve.

“We’ve got the best products and we give you a good way to get hold of them without having to shell out for them all upfront,” Winslow says. “We can get you the thing you want, whether it is the shiny iMac or the new Samsung, in a way that is controlled and affordable.”

Over the longer term, he is also keen for Snaffle to play a role in the emerging subscription economy, where companies like Dollar Shave Club and much of the software industry have driven the popularity of ‘as-a-service’ delivery models paid for on a monthly basis.

“Whether you call it a ‘rental economy’ or a ‘subscription economy’, more and more people are used to not owning stuff,” Winslow says. “Subscription has become a huge thing and that is something we have taken note of and are looking at how we can fulfill what people want to get their hands on but don’t necessarily want to buy upfront.

“That is where we see the future - not only where we can change a dynamic, but also the perception of the industry.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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