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Bedding & Mattress Industry: Aching for a Restful Night

The bedding and mattress market experienced a significant decline in sales in 2017, causing concern for manufacturers and retailers. Millennials are opting for online purchases, while tariffs on Chinese imports pose further challenges. Understanding customer preferences and improving in-store experiences are crucial for driving customer satisfaction. Manufacturers and retailers must address the "bed buying gap" and tailor advertising strategies to target affluent working women and promote the benefits of a superior mattress.

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Bedding & Mattress Industry: Aching for a Restful Night

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  1. An Industry in Need of a Good Night’s Sleep • Like an old, sagging mattress, the 2017 bedding & mattress market caused substantial pain for manufacturers and retailers, as the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) reported an 8.3% decrease in bedding unit sales for the entire year. • The wholesale dollar value of bedding shipments also decreased, by 4.2%; however, the average unit price for mattresses increased 6.2%, to $386.88. • Despite a relatively good economy, Millennials, who are the major group of young consumers on which the industry relies, are more likely to buy products online and said they only wanted to spend $400–$600 for a new mattress.

  2. Possible Tariffs Weigh on Market • In a May 2018 release, the ISPA forecast a 3.5% increase for mattress and foundation shipments and a 4.5% increase in their wholesale dollar value. • As the table on page 1 of the Profiler clearly indicates, 2018 didn’t start well and an industry analyst stated during July 2018 that Q2 retail sales decreased in the low single-digits and the beginning of Q3 sales were in the low to mid-single-digits. • Two major factors likely to affect the industry negatively during 2018 is online boxed-bed retailers’ increasing sales and another 10% tariff on imports of Chinese mattress and foundation, including adjustable foundation.

  3. Shoppers Make It Clear What Sells a Mattress • A 2018 report from The Better Sleep Council provides some beneficial insights about mattress shoppers. For example, 28% of adults 18–34 work or watch TV in bed, which suggests they view a bed as more than just a sleeping platform. • Among adults 35–54, 24% work or watch TV in bed, but 49% experience one or a number of physical pains that often affects their sleep, which indicates why addressing this issue during the sales process is so important. • Older adults 55+ are very clear about why they shop for a new mattress: pain or health issues, 36%; sagging mattress with body impressions, 21%; and poor sleep, 24%.

  4. The Right In-Store Sample and Reliable Delivery Drive Customer Satisfaction • The J.D. Power 2017 Mattress Satisfaction ReportSM revealed Tempur-Pedic moved from #3 on the 2016 list to #1, with an index rating of 887, replacing Sleep Number. • Once they replaced an old mattress, 83% of customers were satisfied with their purchase. They replaced it because it was old/distressed, 51%; they wanted a more comfortable mattress, 37%; and the mattress was of a certain age, 32%. • Other factors driving peak satisfaction were stores with a sample of the mattress customers planned to purchase (an index of 858); purchasing a mattress with an adjustable base (883); delivery when promised (851).

  5. Reports from Manufacturers and Retailers’ Financial Ledgers • For Sleep Number Corporation, 2017 was a record-breaking year, with total annual sales of $1.44 billion, a 10% increase from 2016; however, Q1 2018 sales of $388.6 million was 1% less than Q1 2017, when sales increased 12% from Q1 2016. • Because Mattress Firm discontinued carrying Temper Sealy International’s products during 2017, Temper Sealy’s Q1 2018 sales decreased 10.3%. Without revenues from Mattress Firm, Temper Sealy’s Q1 sales increased 3.0%. • As Mattress Firm proceeds with its turnaround plan, it reported an operating loss of approximately $154 million for the 6 months ending March 31, 2018. It closed 149 stores, opened 16 and acquired 14 franchised stores.

  6. Retailers Must Focus on “Buying Gaps” • Two early-2018 studies (Colonial, a company specializing in mattress display and branding products, and Furniture Today) indicated an increased “bedding buying gap” of 36.2% and 25%, respectively. • The bedding buying gap represents the percentage of consumers who began to shop for a mattress, but then didn’t buy it. The reasons were a concern about spending too much, dissatisfaction with their purchase and selecting the wrong bed. • Furniture Today and Restonic, a Buffalo, NY retailer, conducted research that revealed a digital marketing gap: 80% of consumers said they read online reviews prior to a purchase, but fewer than half of surveyed retailers think online reviews are important.

  7. Advertising Strategies • According to The Media Audit data in the table of page 2 of the Profiler, mattress & bedding retailers may want to target affluent working women with their advertising and promote the benefits of a superior mattress to obtain the best rest for career women. • Because the bed appears to be a place for watching TV among many adults, retailers may want to promote a free bundle of “TV-viewing” accessories for a qualifying purchase: pillow to sit upright, food/snack tray, remote, bluetooth headphones not to disturb partner, etc. • To address the “bed buying gap” explained on page 3 of the Profiler, retailers must emphasize the long-term value of the purchase and a free, but limited pick-up-and-return policy for consumers dissatisfied with their purchase or who discover it was the wrong bed.

  8. New Media Strategies • Consider partnering with a pain specialist to record a series of short videos as social media posts, addressing pain and/or health issues, which can be alleviated by buying the right type of mattress. • Invite men, especially male customers, to share videos of making and serving their wives breakfast in bed, highlighting what they prepared and the extras their wives appreciated: a rose, special tea, imported jam/preserves for her toast, etc. • Delivery continues to be an important part of selecting a store to buy a mattress, so stores should find methods to enhance this feature, such as updates via text messages, photos and profiles of delivery crew, crew wearing shoe coverings to protect carpets, etc.

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