As the bedding industry continues to undergo a series of seismic shifts, Reverie’s long-standing roots as a “sleep technology” company have it well positioned to navigate this evolving industry landscape. Best known for its adjustable bases, or “power bases”, Reverie has focused on developing sleep products that are both conceptually radical and economically sustainable over the past fourteen years. Today, the company continues to make a mark through its ongoing commitment to advanced engineering, personalized solutions and out-of-the-box thinking. With a broad portfolio of customizable mattresses and power bases, Reverie is not simply creating innovative new retail sales opportunities—but reshaping the expectations of what a mattress can do and why good sleep matters.
The origin of the Reverie brand dates back nearly two decades, as Martin Rawls-Meehan and Tony Chang—close childhood friends and recent college graduates—were bouncing around ideas about their futures. As a student in the Masters Program at the Parsons School of Design, Chang was centering his master’s thesis on dreams and sleep. As a college athlete, Rawls-Meehan had always valued good sleep as a means to better performance, and while brainstorming with Chang on his thesis they started thinking how they could approach bedding in a new way.
“Why don’t we come up with an entirely radical concept for sleep?”
Spurred by the belief that sleep deserves more attention as an integral part of health and wellness, they spent the next two years researching the industry, prototyping concepts and building a supply chain. Chang set up Reverie retail stores in China, while Rawls-Meehan ran Reverie everywhere outside of China and focused on customizable mattresses and power bases—which we now call “sleep systems.” While researching the industry in 2003 and 2004, Rawls-Meehan had seen a lot of power bases designed for the European market, but very few for the US market. Additionally, none of the power bases he saw incorporated the cool new electronic technology that was all the rage with the younger generation. Rawls-Meehan saw a huge opportunity to radically rethink the power base and make it a true piece of fashion furniture and cutting edge lifestyle technology that would become the command center for the modern bedroom, communicating with other devices in the home to deliver better sleep and more convenience to end users.
The power base concept worked perfectly with the DreamCell technology Chang and Rawls-Meehan developed, an innovative alternative to innersprings that provided more natural, durable and—most importantly—customized comfort. By combining the Reverie DreamCell mattress and Power Base, a truly unique sleep system that would deliver great, customized sleep to people of all shapes and sizes was born.
By 2006, the company had been steadily gaining customers in the power base market when Tempur-Pedic came calling. Over the course of the next six years, Reverie manufactured power bases for the industry heavyweight—a relationship that ultimately helped build the category into what it is today. In many ways, the success Reverie had with Tempur and its other customers helped fuel confidence in the category throughout the “great recession,” a confidence that gained huge momentum as we came out of the recession a few years ago. Despite the fact that its power base business was booming, Rawls-Meehan knew that power bases alone did not create the life-changing great sleep that was Reverie’s mission. So Reverie reinvigorated its focus on the fully personalized sleep system.
“In order to create products that help people sleep better, you first have to acknowledge that every body is unique,” says Lisa Tan, Chief Marketing Officer. “You need to understand your customers’ needs in order to provide them with a customized solution that will actually work. And to do that effectively, it requires thinking about product development as something that is continually iterating.”
In thinking about innovation as a continuous process, the company has been able to successfully adapt and respond to changes in the market. Under Rawls-Meehan’s leadership as CEO and Chief Innovation Officer, the Reverie team has developed a research and development strategy that operates less like a mattress manufacturer and more like a technology company.
“When you become a sleep technology company, you are continually taking cues from the best innovation sources out there, which are most likely not in our own industry,” Tan explains. “That erases the idea that the mattress is just a white rectangle."
"When you’re not confined by a white rectangle, then you can start thinking about sleep in three dimensions.”
By removing the confines of what a mattress should look like or how it should be made, Reverie has developed a truly dynamic approach to sleep innovation. With the advent of the DreamCell technology, the company first challenged the idea that a mattress is a static product. Each Reverie mattress contains hundreds of individual DreamCell foam springs, which creates a support system that is fully customized to the consumer. With four different densities that range from extra soft to firm, the DreamCells are arranged according to the sleeper’s unique needs—providing the proper amount of firmness and support where they need it most and ensuring correct spinal alignment.
This technology doesn’t just offer superior comfort and customization, it actually evolves with the consumer and adapts to the way their body may change over time. To reconfigure the mattress, the consumer simply unzips the cover and rearranges the DreamCells, which are conveniently color-coded based on their density level. While this unique system makes it easy for consumers to customize their mattress, this is not something that should happen every night—simply because it’s not necessary. Rather, consumers can update the comfort and support as needed, which is primarily in response to major physical changes like weight gain or loss, pregnancy, injury or surgery.
Over the past five years, Reverie has grown its mattress footprint considerably with both larger retailers and smaller specialty stores. Today, its product portfolio includes a broad range of comfort feels and choices at price points that start at $1,499. In addition to its classic natural latex line, Reverie launched a new hybrid collection last year. By combining memory foam with a layer of breathable latex on top, the hybrid provides a gently responsive feel that is more well-suited to a population who has become accustomed to the feel of memory foam.
At the retail level, the DreamCell concept can help consumers feel more confident about their investment. They know that this mattress is not simply built to last—but specially designed to evolve with them over time. Reverie customers can be assured that their mattress will continue to provide the exact amount of comfort and support they need to feel their best.
While Reverie’s mattress portfolio delivers long-term customization, the company provides more short-term personalization through its broad range of power base offerings. Reverie’s power bases literally transform the “flat white rectangle” into a three-dimensional sleep system, creating a dynamic product that provides immediate solutions to the day-to-day needs. All of Reverie’s power bases feature infinite head and foot movement. At the top of the line-up is the company’s luxury T Series, which offers Zero Gravity and AntiSnore positioning presets, 3D WaveTM massage and under-the-bed LED nightlight. The company’s innovative ProGrip technology eliminates the need for retainer bars.
What truly sets Reverie’s power bases apart is not simply the addition of key features, but the way in which the company has improved and refined these features to maximize their benefits. While in-bed massage has become standard in many power bases, Reverie recently introduced its 3D Wave Technology, which uses resonant frequency and three-dimensional rotation that works with the mattress material. Rather than simply shaking the mattress, this patented new technology creates a three-dimensional massage sensation at the mattress surface, maximizing the healing effects of the vibration, enhancing blood flow, reducing inflammation and, more generally, calming nerves. The technology can be adjusted depending on the mattress construction to optimize the experience. Reverie recently partnered with the State of Michigan and Michigan State University to test out the impact of its massage technology on sleep quality and mental acuity, and the results were staggering. “We now have real third-party objective evidence that our massage helps you feel more rested and energized. Better sleep matters, and this technology is going to really resonate with consumers,” Tan says.
Beyond enhancing the overall sleep experience, Reverie also helps consumers integrate their sleep systems into their lifestyle. With Bluetooth Smart connectivity and the Reverie Nightstand app, Reverie gives users the freedom to customize the bedding environment to better support their personal habits. “In order to maximize your health via sleep, you also need to be connected to the world around you,” Tan explains. “You need to be able to plug in to the preexisting technology that you’re using everyday to monitor your health and enjoy your lifestyle.”
Reverie’s commitment to innovation extends beyond just eye-catching features; the company is continuously working on improving the electromechanical technology that drives its products as well.
“Beyond introducing technology and spending time to engineer the product correctly, we need to be ensuring that we’re thinking about all the things that go into an electromechanical product that don’t go into a mattress,” Tan explains. “So when our retailers have technical issues, they need to be able to call somebody up who can speak their language, understand and help them immediately—and tap into networks to service them as quickly as needed.”
This level of high quality service and support has become increasingly important as the popularity of the power base category continues to grow. According to the International Sleep Products Association, the power base market grew by nearly 200% between 2011 and 2015, with roughly one million units sold in 2015—and Reverie believes that this is still only the beginning.
“There’s been a lot of excitement around the bed-in-a-box category over the past three years. But if you compare that to power bases, we’re still dominating in terms of growth as a sub-category of the bedding industry,” Tan says. “At best, we’re looking at 9% of new consumers who purchase a power base and maybe 40% who are aware that they even exist. So we have a huge opportunity to continue increasing category awareness.”
The challenge moving forward is finding a way to bridge that gap between consumer awareness and actual sales, while preventing the commodification of the category. One way Reverie does this is with its 1M Foundation. Instead of offering limited adjustability at a more approachable price point, the company has equipped this flat foundation with a few of its most popular features, including massage, Bluetooth connectivity and under-bed lighting. By enhancing a more traditional base with technologies consumers are already familiar with, Reverie has created a more effective way to introduce consumers to the category and elevate their expectations of what a mattress foundation can do.
“Once you get somebody to lie on the power base and experience our unique massage technology, it’s hard to walk away,” Tan explains. “The more we can do to introduce power in an affordable way, the more opportunity we have.”
With its sights set on the future, Reverie credits much of its success to the committed team of engineers that make up its research and development team. With talent from some of the top universities in the country, this dedicated group of engineers is committed to finding new ways to improve the sleep experience.
“We don’t have many industry veterans in our R&D groups saying, ‘Hey we should do it this way because it’s always been done this way,’” Tan explains. “It would be relatively easy to build a power base by going out and sourcing existing products off the shelf, putting them together to create something that moves on command. Instead, we start from scratch. We design our products inhouse, from the circuit board designs to the steel structures to writing our own code for bed controllers and apps. This allows us to develop unconstrained by supply chain or off-the-shelf market limitations, and also ensures that we deliver a premium quality product that our customers can count on.”
This was one of the driving forces behind the construction of Reverie’s new Innovation Center. Opening next month, this manufacturing facility will bring together the company’s creative designers and engineers to work on improving production efficiencies and processes. As the central domestic location for Reverie’s power base production, the primary goal of the new facility will be to create customized products for its retail partners.
“Customization is an inherent part of our product line-up, but it’s also an inherent part of how we do business with our partners,” Tan says. “Being able to customize our service offerings to them as well, from customer service to the order fulfillment and logistics programs to the lineup on the floor to the product itself, are all very important.”
The Innovation Center will also serve as a testing location for Reverie’s future domestic manufacturing practices. Though finding suppliers has been challenging, the company is committed to building a more robust supply chain because it can see the tangible benefits of doing so. It will not only enhance Reverie’s customization capabilities, but provide the company with greater control over its supply chain, help mitigate risk, improve their fulfillment efficiency and create more jobs within the community.
In turn, this will help Reverie continue to develop more actionable sleep solutions. The company recently worked with the sleep lab at Michigan State University on a comprehensive sleep study that explored and quantified the benefits of the Reverie sleep system. The results revealed a few key trends: subjects that slept on a Reverie sleep system reported higher level of comfort in-bed, a more positive affect upon waking and a reduced amount of sleepiness throughout the day. Additionally, subjects also performed much better on a variety of different cognitive tests.
This study helps prove what Reverie has always known: people perform better when they sleep on a bed that’s personalized to them.
When it comes to the value of sleep products, though, there is still a significant gap between where the average consumer is and where the bedding industry would like them to be. In an age where Americans spent an estimated $41 billion on sleeping aids and remedies last year, why are they still so resistant to invest in new sleep technology?
“We limit our possibilities when we fight each other over market share in the current $15 billion mattress industry,” Tan explains. “We need to think differently about who we are as an industry and how we’re going to grow the market. Given the importance of sleep to our overall health and well-being, our industry should be three times the size that it is today. Our competition isn’t each other, it is anything that people are spending their disposable income on in lieu of a better sleep system. If we focus on discounts, price and market share we are missing the point—that’s just not a formula for creating sustained growth or a healthy industry. The market is so full of opportunity, we just need to go out there and realize the potential.”
By positioning both the mattress and base as essential parts of the overall system, Reverie is helping retailers unlock new sales opportunities—and exposing consumers to a new kind of sleep experience that is customized to their needs. Looking ahead to the future, Reverie plans to continue its quest for greater innovation, in addition to helping consumers better understand the value in upgrading their existing sleep system. Retailers play a major role in this process, which is why the company has developed a robust marketing program that provides easy access to assets and training information in more bite-sized packages. Ultimately, Reverie is working to equip the RSA with products and information that will help the end-consumers start thinking differently about the value of sleep.
“Just broadly, we want to continue to disrupt,” Tan says. “We want to get people thinking differently. We’re going to try to keep pushing the envelope and looking as far out as we can for inspiration.”