With nearly 2,500 stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Mexico, Rent-A-Center has high expectations set by its customers, shareholders and franchisees alike. Brick-and-mortar Rent-A-Center is anything but a traditional business when it comes to marketing strategy and the results are showing in store performance
Founded in 1986, Rent-A-Center is a rent-to-own retail brand that meets customers where they are. Rent-A-Center is a brick-and-mortar business, and it’s critical that franchisees and clients know that the brand is more digitally savvy than its competitors. Historically and still today a local business built on relationships with customers, Rent-A-Center recognized that its credit constrained customers increasingly responded to digital interactions at the same pace as every other consumer group.
Over the past five years, Tim Pitt, Vice President of Marketing for Rent-A-Center, has helped digital marketing for Rent-A-Center evolve. Moving from the era of minimal technological interaction to today’s ever-increasing emphasis on mobile-first applications, the brand has incorporated more content across social media and through digital surveys. Pitt expressed that the company can merge its ‘offline’ data with digital media to target both the ideal and the most responsive consumer audiences.
“We are redefining our platform,” Pitt expressed. “We survey our customers at six different points throughout their journey with Rent-A-Center. We ask customers to score us at key points and make adjustments based on feedback. We’ve learned that digital communication is our most efficient and resourceful tool since we can turn the feedback into data and learn from it.”
Pulling first-party Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data is an easy way for Rent-A-Center to learn what works and what doesn’t. An increased digital presence through social media and increased email frequency are two ways Rent-A-Center has kept its brand accessible and personalized.
Pitt stated, “Our recent web results from various digital leads are astronomical. We’ve been able to grow web traffic by double-digit increases over the past two years. That alone shows that our team and organization are rallying behind what we do. Not everyone wants to go into the store, so we will meet them where they are.”
Along with social media and emails as marketing tools, Pitt stated that Rent-A-Center is keeping pace with the use of video media marketing. The brand looks to provide more and more of its media in this format. Pitt said that, even with this bolstered digital presence, the company will still maintain the old adage of ‘content is king, but context is queen.’
“Just video alone isn’t good enough,” expressed Pitt. “It’s knowing when to serve a video and when not to. Just because it’s hitting the target for one aspect of marketing doesn’t mean it will for other components. We want people to know they aren’t just buying two minutes of our time; they’re buying the quality and expertise Rent-A-Center has to share.”
With bright, engaging designs and interactive platforms, Rent-A-Center’s marketing is not only about engagement—as Pitt explained, it’s about moving the business forward. To do so, Rent-A-Center has focused its marketing strategy on catching people where they are and has tapped into advertising, social media, online video, paid search, digital radio and multichannel marketing to direct the customer journey.
Whether it’s from an ad, social media or otherwise, the company is seeing a significant increase in consumer foot traffic as a result of digital targeting. Through surveys and first-party CRM data, the marketing team has been able to target marketing campaigns to consumers. Since digital content has become increasingly accessible, thanks to the rise of tablets and smartphones, Pitt noted that a large part of Rent-A-Center’s client base engages with the brand via mobile use.
While digital leads mean a lot, Pitt emphasized that they don’t mean anything unless there is a strong follow-through.
“We’re counting both ‘bricks and clicks’,” said Pitt. “It’s important that our store manager relationships and local business level relationships are in tune, not just the digital relationships we build with customers. That local connection is imperative to creating and sustaining brand awareness.”
To build stronger relationships with clients, the brand delivers on both in-person and digital connections. Rent-A-Center has included over 30 different touchpoints across the purchasing journey, allowing the brand to connect with clients at turning points such as following through to buy a couch or just welcoming someone to the family.
“When there’s a perfect fit between supply and demand, we are capable of providing efficiency, quality and speed to our customers,” said Pitt. “We’ll continue to build out the brand; set our expectations high and aim to exceed them whenever and wherever we can.”