As we made our way around the World Market Center last week, we couldn’t help but remark that the pace of market seemed slower than ever before. Perhaps it was the sweltering temperatures outside, or the limited number of new product introductions inside, but this Las Vegas Market felt different than the hustle and bustle of its winter counterpart. Has this become the “new normal” for the summer show? It appears so, as many manufacturers have restructured their product development to place greater emphasis on January debuts. While at first glance this may seem disappointing—in fact, this shift has allowed the summer show to take on an interesting new function. With the major brands concentrating on winter introductions, smaller companies were able to debut new products to greater fanfare—while manufacturers across the board noted that the more relaxed environment allowed for more substantive conversations with buyers and retailers.
Of course, there was plenty of discussion about the modest performance of the first half of the year, as uncertainty within the industry and the country as a whole has taken some toll on bedding sales. While the overall number of units sold was lower than most hoped, many companies saw a notable uptick in AUSP—and offered positive feelings about sales moving forward. In fact, the industry shake-ups and disruptions seem to be driving exciting new innovation—not simply in technology, but in ideology.
Throughout our days at market, we spoke with a number of manufacturers who are starting to rethink the traditional approaches, pulling inspiration (and, for some, even executives!) from other industries. As many of the trends we’ve noticed over the years have become mainstays, we’re starting to see a ripple effect reverberating throughout different aspects of the market. All in all, the industry is placing greater emphasis on providing real solutions for their customers—and if what we heard from almost every manufacturer is true, the winter market is going to be a game-changer!
Here are the five biggest trends we saw at the Summer Las Vegas Market:
The growing popularity of bedding e-commerce has revealed a key problem that the industry has known for quite some time: people hate mattress shopping. While some manufacturers have responded by rolling out their own online-only options, others have developed unique products that are shaking up the in-store experience. Whether touting customization and high-tech innovation or communicating clear sleep solutions in engaging ways, we saw a number of exciting line-ups that are reinvigorating the way people shop for mattresses.
Touted as “innovation without complication,” Boyd Specialty Sleep’s new iZone Mattress combines air, water and memory foam to create a fully customizable sleep system without the use of electronics, pumps or chemicals. Each mattress is made with two rows of seven oval channels or “calibrators” which are filled with varying levels of tap water, according to specifications provided by an online quiz customers to take at home or in-store. These water calibrators are housed within a thick layer of buoyant, T-vented foam—which creates a ‘bellow’ effect that enhances the air circulation throughout the mattress—and topped with a layer of free-floating, anti-microbial memory foam. Rather than simply compressing like standard innersprings or foam, the water calibrators absorb body pressure to ensure personalized, contouring support in every sleep position. By taking familiar materials and employing them in truly innovative ways, iZone is a compelling new take on customization and cooling—creating a unique hybrid collection that is already driving significant sales increases for brick-and-mortar stores.
While the interest in sleep tracking is growing, few companies have leveraged the power of personalized data quite like ReST. Designed to be the “ultimate smart bed,” the company’s high-tech mattress does not simply track and log movement, breathing and heart-rate—it provides tangible comfort and support solutions in real-time. Made with a patented pressure-sensing fabric, the ReST bed continuously monitors nearly 2,000 pressure points on the body—automatically inflating or deflating the five zoned air chambers, adjusting the sleep surface to the user’s specific needs. With in-store monitors and tablets that showcase the beds superior customization capabilities, ReST equips retailers with a fully experiential shopping experience—and an advanced solution for consumers looking to take sleep tracking to the next level.
While the introduction of innovative mattress materials can be thrilling for many industry folks, it can sometimes be difficult to drum up that same sort of excitement from consumers. With the new Bravura Collection, Therapedic is bolstering the technical benefits of copper-infused memory foam and latex with a fun aesthetic story designed to appeal to shoppers. Positioned as the “sound of sleep,” this four-bed collection comes with a clever music-themed marketing program. Each model in the collection is named after a different classic rock album, with the side paneling decorated with subtle musical note elements that match in-store signage. This unique approach was developed as “conversation starter” for retailers looking for a new way to engage with potential customers. The aesthetics are only a starting point though, as the creative styling is backed by advanced components that offer true sleep solutions. All four mattress models are made with layers of either memory foam or latex that have been infused with copper—an element that has been proven to deliver numerous health benefits, including anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to being hypoallergenic, studies have shown that copper can also help encourage brain stimulation and improve circulatory function during sleep.
When it comes to mattress support systems, we’ve seen an interesting evolution take place over the past decade. As the adjustable category continues to see explosive growth, so too has the popularity of platform bases—giving consumers plenty of new low-cost and high-end options. This ongoing shift away from traditional box springs has mattress and accessories manufacturers rethinking bed bases across the board, pragmatically reconsidering their form and function in order to give retailers more options and selling opportunities.
With an already comprehensive portfolio of bed bases, Customatic recently unveiled a slew of creative adjustable features and products aimed at helping retailers connect with new customers. Designed for the aging baby boomer, the company’s new Independence power base not only offers head and foot adjustment—it fully transforms into a seat-like position that helps older people more easily get out of bed. Unparalleled in the consumer market, the Independence not only reclaims the “hospital bed” concept that has been shunned for years—it provides a valuable solution to an ever-growing consumer segment. This solutions-oriented approach was a common theme throughout all of Customatic’s product introductions. Rather than pushing the luxury price point even higher, the company has concentrated on expanding the mid-range adjustable market with key “delighters”. These creative add-on details not only give a boost to sales tickets, but provide specific solutions to problems consumers might not have even known they were looking for—like LED light fixtures, hidden drawers and built-in remotes and a variety of new features that allow consumers to coordinate their adjustable base to their existing bedroom furniture. With a host of reasonably priced add-ons, Customatic is helping retailers enhance basic frame options, maximize their in-store offerings and add overall incremental value.
Over the past few years, Glideaway has seen the interest in its adjustable bed offerings grow steadily. With the introduction of its Freestyle base, the company aimed to offer a new entry-level option—appealing to consumers who were interested in some of the adjustable features, but not the hefty price tag of many of the higher-end bases. At the summer market, Glideaway unveiled an updated version of the Freestyle with strategic tweaks based on suggestions from buyers. In addition to being a great low-cost adjustable option, the Freestyle is a valuable addition for furniture stores—as consumers look for new ways to upgrade high-end bedroom sets. Available in a new consumer-friendly cardboard box, Glideaway’s Freestyle base is a meaningful solutions for for consumers looking to transform their foundation or platform bed into an advanced adjustable sleep system.
A longtime leader in innovative sleep technology, Reverie has developed a full suite of adjustable base, mattress and accessories offerings that tout superior customization and performance. The company has successfully built a cohesive brand story throughout its entire portfolio—with advanced personalization and high-tech features at the forefront of every product, no matter the price point. At the very top of the line, Reverie’s new 9T adjustable base is just starting to roll out at retail this fall. This advanced base features head and foot elevation, ProGrip lumbar support, individualized massage functionality and a unique ‘Raise You Awake’ alarm function. The lionshare of Reverie’s business continues to be focused on power bases, which in turn informs and supports its full line-up of mattresses and accessories—which are all designed to work in congress with one another. This sense of brand cohesion between support and mattress offerings is key for the retailer, providing more logical up-selling opportunities and comprehensive US-based customer service across all market segments.
It was only a few years ago that we first started to notice Tencel fibers appearing in bedding products, but the summer market proved that this unique technology is definitely here to stay. Made by Lenzing, Tencel is a lyocell fiber derived from raw material wood using a closed loop system—making it not only extremely soft and comfortable, but truly eco-friendly as well. More absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen, Tencel textiles offer a host of unparalleled features that resonate with consumers. Whether used in mattress ticking, pillow covers or sheeting, Tencel brings with it valuable sales benefits including sumptuous feels, superior temperature regulation and an environmentally conscious story.
Aimed at younger mattress consumers, Aireloom’s Aspire collection is an entry-level line-up that offers high-quality components and a sleek, minimalist look. With the option of either a foam core or the company’s exclusive Pocket-Flex coil system, the Aspire features advanced Phase Change Foam Technology to absorb excess heat and regulate body temperature. Further adding to these sumptuous features, the line-up is enhanced with a stylish ticking made from a unique blend of Tencel and poly-panel construction. Smooth to the touch and ultra-conforming, the cover not only gives each mattress a high-end look—but a truly luxurious feel.
Setting out to deliver the highest in quality, performance and durability, Englander unveiled the Forever mattress collection at the summer market—a new competitively priced, ultra-luxury line-up. This two-bed collection was designed to offer maximum durability and luxurious support, combining the best in long-lasting components. With the option of either a soft or firm feel, each model in the Forever collection features extremely high coil counts and a comfort layer made from patented Omalon foam. This commitment to quality extends to the mattress ticking as well, as both models are made with soft Tencel covers that bolster the comfort and support benefits with additional absorbency and cooling properties.
Combining the silky-smooth feel of both Tencel and Supima cotton, HomTex’s new Dreamfit Degree 6 Sheet Set offers unparalleled comfort and performance. Made from 70% Micro Tencel, this new sheet set maximizes the fiber’s unique moisture-wicking and temperature regulating benefits—creating a superior cooling product. The remaining 30% of the textile comes from Supima cotton, which ensures unmatched strength and minimizes wear and tear. This unique blend of quality components allows for a cooler, more durable sheet set that is creates a lavish, long-lasting sleep environment.
There’s no doubt that direct-to-consumer mattress brands have had a major effect on the bedding industry. While some retail stores are scrambling to reclaim their niche, others are reaping the benefits of rebranding themselves as one-stop “bedroom shops”—bolstering their mattress offerings with a wide range of advanced bedding accessories. Gone are the days of promotional freebies; today, the top-of-bed market includes advanced high-tech sleep solutions that are driving incremental sales. Accessories offer retailers profitable add-on opportunities, increasing attachment rates with minimal warehousing and shipping risks. As such, some of the busiest showrooms at the summer market were those promoting exciting new top-of-bed introductions.
Non-invasive and easy-to-use, Simmons’ new “Sleeptracker by Beautyrest” is a stand-alone tracking device that transforms any bed into a smart bed. Comprised of one processor and two sensors that slip between the mattress and foundation, Sleeptracker is small and compact—making it a powerful tool for both travel and at-home use. By monitoring elements of motion, heart and breathing rate, it intelligently assesses sleep patterns for up to two sleepers—providing detailed reporting and personalized sleep tips within a downloadable app. With bold packaging, and the quality assurance that comes with the Beautyrest brand name, Sleeptracker by Beautyrest is a unique add-on opportunity for retailers to boost their incremental sales this holiday season.
When it comes to high-quality health and wellness oriented bedding, PureCare has always been ahead of the curve. Understanding that “no one wants a basic pillow anymore,” the company has updated its pillow line-up to better accommodate the growing interest in advanced solutions. Building upon the success of its suite of SUB-0 cooling accessories, PureCare unveiled three new pillow introductions at the summer market—each boasting the company’s exclusive FRiO rapid chill technology. The top-selling PureCare Plush pillows have all been enhanced with a unique cover made from FRiO fiber and Tencel blend—resulting in a soft, responsive material that cools five times faster than traditional polyester. With six offerings in total, the new SUB-0 pillow line-up provides retailers with more diverse comfort and construction options.
With a comprehensive portfolio of unique sleep solutions, Malouf offers a wide range of diverse options within each accessories category—from specialty pillows to innovative protectors and luxurious sheets. The company further expanded its extensive pillow collection at the summer market, building upon the success of its Talalay Latex Pillow with an added cooling story. The new Gel Talalay Latex pillow delivers superior breathability and pressure relief by combining buoyant Talalay with cooling gel. Using a zoned, aerated construction, this lightweight pillow allows for enhanced airflow and temperature regulation. Additionally, Malouf gave us a look at the new Five 5ided IceTech Mattress Protector—which features exclusive IceTech fabric to continually dissipate body heat and create a cool sleep climate—and showcased a new four-inch down-alternative mattress topper. With an ever-expanding line-up of quality bedding accessories made from a variety of unique materials and components, Malouf gives retailers the opportunity to pick and choose the styles and feels that work best for their particular market.
Continuing its commitment to the highest quality Italian foam, Blu Sleep unveiled a host of pillow offerings at market—combining the best-selling materials to create innovative new options. Each new pillows features a different popular material per side, allowing consumers to get the best of both worlds. The company also unveiled a new fiber pillow, a unique introductory option designed to help retailers create a more cohesive step-up story. With an approachable price point, this fiber pillow allows retailers to connect with consumers looking for a lower cost-option—while also giving them an opportunity to showcase the expanded benefits of one of Blu Sleep’s higher priced pillow options. Also new this market, the company unveiled an updated pillow cover that was carefully designed to maximize the unique benefits of the specialty foam. Made from a soft, four-way stretch Tencel, the new cover does not obscure the feel of the pillow core—while the soft mesh backing maintains superior airflow. Blu Sleep’s full line-up of pillows are supported by an eye-catching in-store display that effectively communicates the details and benefits of each option, pointing consumers to the right one for their needs. Unveiled earlier this year, this display program has already helped Blu Sleep’s retail partners drastically increase their pillow sales.
As the retail landscape continues to change, the mattress buying process looks a lot different than it did in decades past. Today’s shoppers are more likely to do online research from the comfort of their homes before making any purchasing decisions. This means it is increasingly important for companies to build strong brand recognition among consumers. Thankfully, a multi-million dollar ad budget is no longer the only way to directly connect with the general public. As consumers seek out information from a wide variety of sources and platforms, smaller companies have more unique opportunities to engage with them in meaningful ways. Savvy manufacturers are taking cues from other industries and developing new strategies to connect with potential customers long before they ever step foot in a retail store—further supporting RSAs’ selling practices.
No stranger to major consumer-facing advertising, Serta is expanding its marketing efforts this year to include a variety of new platforms and strategies. This summer, the company launched “Comfort Reimagined”—a fully-integrated marketing campaign that combined strong television and digital efforts to support the roll out of its new Serta iComfort products. The product-focused TV spots showcased the new collection updates, which include the addition of triple-action gel technology—while a website redesign aimed to connect with today’s internet-savvy shoppers. The new site was designed to assist in the mattress buying process, pointing consumers to retailers through an easy-to-navigate user experience that was accessible via desktop and mobile devices. Building upon the success of this integrated campaign, Serta is rolling out a new digital content strategy this fall—harnessing the power of key influencers through a variety of different channels.
Talalay Global unveiled the first stage of a new marketing campaign at market, which will continue to roll out in different phases over the next six months. Under the brand statement “Purely the Best. Purely American,” Talalay Global aims to educate consumers about the important differences between Talalay and other lower quality “imposter” latex options. The campaign promotes the superior quality and benefits of its American-made Talalay latex, showcasing the unique processes and standards with which it’s manufactured. Throughout all of its communications, consumers will find a link to a two-minute video that showcases the company’s Talalay manufacturing process. Combined with striking “aspirational” marketing, which features sleek fashion shots and proudly Americana themed signage, Talalay Global is making a bold statement in repositioning itself as a luxury, American-made brand.
With unique partnerships and clever branding, bedgear has been successfully building a new kind of consumer engagement program over the course of the past year. Firstly, the company joined the Huffington Post for the #SleepRevolution College Tour—a series of “sleep fairs” taking place on college campuses throughout the country. As an officially partner of the tour, bedgear joined the team at three of their stops—showcasing a collection of back-to-school items that included performance mattress toppers, pillows and backrests. This was a valuable opportunity for bedgear to expand its brand recognition among the elusive millennial demographic, in addition to supporting the ongoing conversation around the importance of sleep. Even more recently, bedgear announced that it would be "joining" the Boston Red Sox as the team’s “Official Performance Bedding Partner.” As part of this multi-year agreement, bedgear will fully customize the Red Sox Sleep Room at Fenway Park with performance bedding gear—along with several other initiatives that further emphasize how important quality sleep is for daytime performance. Both logical extensions of bedgear’s performance-based brand positioning, these partnerships serve to expand the company’s opportunities to engage with new customers.
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But wait, there’s more!
You can find more details about all of the exciting products on display at the Las Vegas Market in the summer issue of Sleep Retailer, including all the latest news from Spring Air, Eclipse, Dormeo and Kingsdown!