Earlier today, I posted about Craftsman’s now-officially-announced V20 Brushless RP cordless power tool lineup.
Here’s what happened: A bunch of Craftsman brushless power tools were clearanced out at Lowe’s, and these Craftsman RP cordless power tools are taking their place.
Officially, all this is all for “easily identifying between CRAFTSMAN brushed tools and our premium brushless tools.”
Basically, the tools are the same, but with new branding intended to better differentiate Craftsman’s higher priced brushless offerings from their lower priced brushed motor offerings.
Craftsman is specifically targeting professional users with their Brushless RP lineup, or so they say, which seems to be a new approach for them.
V20* BRUSHLESS RP(TM) (Runtime + Performance) power tools meet the runtime and performance needs of professionals who rely on their tools day in and day out.
Other brands have different cordless power tool families to help with differentiation, such as Ryobi’s compact brushless One+ HP tools and Kobalt’s higher performing 24V Max XTR tools.
Dewalt – Craftsman’s sibling brand – also has different tiers in their 20V Max lineup, such as Atomic and XR.
Is Craftsman targeting professional users with RP, or are they targeting consumers looking to buy more premium tools?
I wonder – if Craftsman is indeed going after Pro users, might it have been better to designate these brushless tools as V20 Pro? Is Brushless RP going to be enough to appeal to more discerning and demanding users?
As an aside, how many tool users are aware of the subtle distinction between Dewalt 20V Max and 20V Max XR tools?
Craftsman RP emphasizes “More Runtime” and “Better Performance,” and you’ll see this repeated in their marketing materials and reflected in individual product claims and selling points.
Not all of Craftsman’s brushless tools are included in this initial launch.
The new Craftsman Brushless RP hammer drill, CMCD732, is different from their Brushless hammer drill, CMCD721. There are some design differences, such as with the RP’s LED placement, as well as differences in power and performance specs.
The CMCD721 also has a “Made in the USA with Global Materials” sticker, while the new Brushless RP CMCD732 does not.
The newer RP model also has lower UWO (power) specs than the older brushless model, as well as a lower top speed.
It seems that the V20 Brushless RP CMCD732 hammer drill is a relabeled version of the V20 brushless CMCD731. But the better and higher performing CMCD721 is not joining the Brushless RP lineup?
The new Brushless RP model is less expensive than the better spec’d CMCD721.
Craftsman’s V20 brushless impact driver, CMCF820, also has higher performance level specs than the new Brushless RP model, CMCF813.
Technically, “Better Performance” is true, although it can be misleading without context. I am surprised that Craftsman’s best-performing brushless tools are NOT included in the RP lineup.
In press materials, as well as individual product listings, here’s what Craftsman says about the new V20 Brushless RP tools:
- Oscillating multi-tool – delivers up to 57 percent more power
- Hammer drill – delivering up to 20 percent more power
- Impact driver – achieving up to 30 percent more runtime
- Impact Wrench – achieving up to 26 percent more runtime
- Circular Saw – delivering up to 75 percent more power
- Reciprocating saw – delivering up to 75 percent more power
- Angle grinder – delivering up to 65 percent more power
These claims are made for Craftsman V20 Brushless RP tools compared to V20 brushed motor tools when certain batteries are used. It’s not exact, such as how Craftsman compares their RP 7-1/4″ circular saw to their brushed motor 6-1/2″ saw.
When looking at Lowe’s product descriptions for the new cordless power tool models, here is how Craftsman qualifies the “Better Performance” claim of the RP and Runtime + Performance branding:
BETTER PERFORMANCE: versus competitive products with brushed motors, tested with either a 2Ah or 4Ah battery, performance based on UWO power, max torque or SCFM.
What are “competitive products with brushed motors?”
Better performance vs. competitive products with brushed motors? I would certainly hope so, as it’s extremely rare for this not to be true.
Craftsman V20 Brushless RP is a marketing pivot. There is one new tool, which is better than none. So, this is mainly a strategy shift so far, possibly to help sell more of the existing tools, and possibly to align better with Craftsman’s ongoing and future roadmap.
Maybe recent business news can offer some context.
Stanley Black & Decker – Craftsman’s parent company – announced their 4th quarter 2021 and full-year 2021 earnings figures last week.
Yesterday, Barrons released a story “Stanley Black & Decker Is Losing Market Share to Rivals,” referenced Citi’s downgrade of the company (stock symbol SWK) from “Buy” to “Sell.” They quoted analyst Eric Lau as saying:
We believe [Techtronic’s] upcoming 2H21E results (due on 2nd Mar) would provide more evidence of the potential market loss of SWK to leading players like TTI or even Chervon.
Okay, so let’s consider for a moment that Stanley Black & Decker might have lost market share to TTI (Milwaukee Tool, Ryobi 18V, Ridgid 18V) and Chervon (EGO, Flex, Skil, OEM for Kobalt 24V Max).
With respect to handheld cordless power tools, Craftsman competes with Ryobi and Ridgid at Home Depot, as well as Kobalt and Skil at Lowe’s.
Craftsman faces competition elsewhere as well, such as on Amazon, where they list a limited selection of V20 cordless power tools.
Lowe’s is Craftsman’s most significant retail partner, and Home Depot is Lowe’s primary competitor.
Lowe’s seems to have mainly focused on Craftsman’s entry-priced cordless power tools. Will this be changing?
Just talking about what’s available at Lowe’s, Craftsman RP will face competition from Dewalt 20V Max, Kobalt 24V Max, Skil 20V Max, and Flex 24V Max cordless power tool offerings, and maybe also Metabo HPT 18V and Bosch 18V.
Lowe’s likely wants to steer customers away from Home Depot’s Ryobi 18V One+ HP and Ridgid 18V brushless offerings. Can Craftsman V20 Brushless RP do that?
Craftsman is seemingly aiming the RP line at professionals, at least given their marketing language, but can they really compete alongside the likes of Dewalt, Milwaukee, Makita, or Bosch?
Craftsman says that additional tools will be joining the lineup throughout 2022, but will these be new tools or mainly more products that are given Brushless RP branding?
ToolGuyd readers wrote in about Lowe’s listing for a new Craftsman Brushless RP cordless jig saw, and so maybe this will be the next new tool announced.
The way they phrased things, additional tools joining the lineup could just as well mean new tools as it could mean more relabeled tools.
I like Craftsman, and I like Stanley Black & Decker. For the most part, I think that Stanley Black & Decker’s cordless team has been doing a fantastic job recently, with their expanding Dewalt 12V Max Xtreme, 20V Max Atomic, XR, and PowerStack offerings.
I also like Craftsman V20 cordless power tools – some are good and others even excellent.
Why should I buy Craftsman V20 brushless tools over competitors’ offerings?
So far, they have not done a great job so far of winning me over. Although, I can’t blame them, at least not entirely.
From how I see it, Craftsman needs to sell the idea to Lowe’s, and Lowe’s needs to sell it to their customers. Neither have done a great job so far in promoting Craftsman’s brushless tool offerings.
Here is a big question: Is Lowe’s going to give Craftsman V20 Brushless RP the visibility and promotion that Home Depot has given to Ryobi 18V One+ HP? If not, Craftsman’s job is going to be even harder.
Analysts believe that Stanley Black & Decker is losing market share to competitors, and Craftsman is likely at least a small part of this. Business reports mention TTI, but also Chervon, a company whose tools and products have increased presence at Lowe’s.
Will Craftsman’s V20 Brushless RP lineup have greater appeal or sell better than when the tools were simply part of their V20 cordless power tool system?
Craftsman “Brushless RP” hasn’t given us anything to be excited about yet.
Whatever Craftsman’s goals, I don’t think a simple name-change will do much to accomplish them. They’ll need to do more.