A 50-Year-Old SA Brand Evolution Story

A 50-Year-Old SA Brand Evolution Story

South Africans are very loyal to the homegrown brands they grew up with, and among them is Teljoy, a brand that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

‘Great brands endure when they are able to evolve with the times,’ said Rami Sassen, CEO of Teljoy. He tells the story about the Teljoy evolution across the decades.

Over the years, many overseas brands have made their way into the South Africa marketplace, particularly over the past two and a half decades since South Africa became a democracy.

But, as South Africans, we still tend to be most loyal to the local brand names we know and love – the ones we grew up with, that our parents trusted, our friends use and that we, as adults now ourselves, rely on in turn. Ouma Rusks. Rooibos. Mrs Ball’s Chutney. Nandos. To name just a few. And, of course, Teljoy.       

In fact, South Africans have Teljoy to thank for installing the very first televisions in the country, which happened when, as a nation, we finally switched on to the wonders of the ‘box’ in 1974.

By then, Teljoy had been in operation for five years already, since 1969 – the same year that the Boeing 747 made its maiden flight, The Brady Bunch was the first broadcast on the ABC network in the USA, and the first man walked on the moon – an event broadcast live around the world. Realising that although South Africans couldn’t yet watch any of these events on television themselves, Theo Rutstein, the founder of Teljoy, knew that it was just a matter of time before the system arrived on our shores. So, he decided to put his money behind this vision.

As a result, with the seeds for an exciting business idea planted firmly in his head, Rutstein launched the company in 1969 with a forward-thinking campaign that gave people the opportunity to book a television for rent, in anticipation of the big switch.

And that’s how it came to pass that Teljoy installed the very first television sets in South Africa in December 1974, and became the very first company in the country to supply sets commercially throughout South Africa.

The ongoing evolution of the brand was set in motion, beginning with the establishment of bricks-and-mortar shops in key locations across the country, providing consumers with the rent-to-own model that has now become the company’s trusted business model.

From ever-increasing ranges of household appliances, to begin with, Teljoy gradually moved to supply furniture. Later, as technology and times evolved, a full range of electronics was added to the inventory, from computers and printers to cellphones, cameras, gaming consoles and beyond.

Five years ago, Teljoy first established an online presence and by 2016 the business had gone completely online, centralising all operations to up the game in service delivery and to bring even more value to customers.

The transition to online has been a seamless experience. In a world where traditional retailers are struggling to survive, Teljoy ensured its success through an early transition to online. Teljoy’s business model is as relevant today as it was when the company was first established.