For the bedding industry, the Winter Las Vegas Market is an opportunity for manufacturers of all shapes and sizes to spotlight their latest innovations and share their newest programs with retail buyers who are looking to stock their showrooms. As we navigated our way through busy showrooms and crowded elevators at the International Market Center last week, it was clear that this event continues to be a driving force in the industry. And for us here at Sleep Retailer, the Las Vegas Market also serves another purpose. It’s a chance for us to sit down with category leaders and newcomers to really get a sense of the state of the industry. How have things changed in the past year? Where are things heading now? While we always love to get a first-hand look at all the newest collections, it can be just as interesting to sit down with a company and talk about the challenges they’ve encountered over the past year—and what they’re doing to address them.
Of course, this often starts at the product level. With online brands taking up market share around the $1,000 price point, we saw a number of companies focusing their efforts below or well-above this marker, expanding their luxury options or investing in more value-oriented promotional collections. One common thread across nearly all pricing categories? New hybrid options. That hardly comes as a surprise, considering advances in roll-packing capabilities have allowed more companies to integrate coil units into their bed-in-a-box options.
On the business side of things, we were struck by the amount of corporate reshuffling that took place in the run-up to market. We met with a number of people who had stepped into a new role just weeks or even days earlier (most notably, Mark Kinsley taking the reins at Englander). We also got a close-up view of various new brand acquisitions and partnerships that have been announced in recent weeks, including Marshall Mattress and Flex Group, Protect-A-Bed and SureFit, Talalay Global and Eclipse International, just to name a few. These new shake-ups and partnerships were also coupled with eye-catching rebranding efforts from multiple veteran manufacturers, like Diamond Mattress and Corsicana.
With younger leadership and new relationships bringing fresh ideas and clear intentions to the forefront, there was a renewed sense of excitement and anticipation throughout the show. Across the board, we saw companies that were rethinking more high-level concepts around how mattresses are sold and what messages are being communicated. Instead of push back against changes, brands are embracing the evolution of retail and coming up with new, more relevant solutions to the issues and complaints that have plagued the industry for years. Manufacturers are taking the time to evaluate the overall structure of the sales process and explore what’s really resonating with consumers—and what may be holding us back. This shift in attitude not only made for a more energized market, but it may be the first step in creating new and exciting opportunities that haven’t yet been considered.
Here are the top trends we saw at the Winter Las Vegas Market:
Streamlined Collections, Simplified Merchandising
The winter market has become synonymous with big product roll-outs and major collection debuts—and while this year didn’t stray from that, it did offer us a fresh approach. In fact, the key word coming out of nearly every showroom was simplify, simplify, simplify.
Mattress shoppers have long complained about how confusing the process can be. With a multitude of models, each with additional comfort and support choices, navigating a mattress showroom has historically been overwhelming. That was further compounded by things like store-specific exclusivity and regional distribution, which made pre-store research or comparison shopping nearly impossible. But for years, the industry has seemed hesitant to resolve these issues. In the meantime, the online direct-to-consumer market has swooped in and taken up market share—and many traditional manufacturers have attempted to catch up by adopting more roll-packed options into their repertoire. But are we sure that the bed-in-a-box model was the key selling point for consumers? What if, instead, it was the simple promise of a less confusing shopping experience?
Thankfully, the industry seems to finally be catching up. At the winter market, we saw a clear change of tune from a number of manufacturers. Brands are no longer resisting what the consumer has clearly been asking for. These companies are honing their product offerings—not only limiting the number of collections, models and features, but really investing in simplifying the marketing and merchandising as well.
This isn’t a dumbing down of the industry. Nor are these companies pivoting to the ill-advised “one-size-fits-all” approach (which tends to ignore the very real fact that people have different needs and preferences when it comes to sleep). Rather, it’s a shift towards prioritizing transparency, effective communication and value.
By streamlining the number of models per collection, brands can ensure that each price jump clearly correlates to a product upgrade. It makes a step-up story more meaningful. More visual merchandising choices and approachable messaging helps consumers find the right products for them, for their specific sleep issues and preferences. This not only creates a more enjoyable shopping experience, it also helps minimize the risk of comfort returns.
In addition to unveiling dynamic new branding, Diamond Mattress also debuted a carefully curated array of new mattress options as well. Each collection within Diamond’s new line-up is available in just three options: plush, medium and firm. The four collections offer a clear step-up story, with each level incorporating an added comfort or support benefit. Every model in the line-up features the company’s patented zoned coil unit, which is clearly communicated to the consumer via a patterned cover fabric across the section of the mattress that is reinforced.
Beautyrest also made a big overhaul this winter, as the brand set out to relaunch over 75% of its product line. While the roll-out seems vast, it was strategically developed and deployed in a way that streamlines its mattress options. In addition to simplifying the brand and model names, the company is focusing on utilizing more consumer-friendly language. That means prioritizing benefit-first messaging, i.e.: the new POP assets promote phrases like “Feel Cooler, Sleep Better” first, then follow-up with more technical information about how its BlackIce4.0 technology functions. All in all, Beautyrest is making a distinct effort to include clear communication across all of its marketing efforts.
Spring Air’s newly redeveloped Back Supporter line was a highly anticipated debut for this market. While the brand name had continued to exist in recent years, it lacked a sense of cohesion. The renewed line-up was designed and conceptualized by the company’s Product Development Committee to be a fully nationwide collection. This will make it easier for consumers to research the product options and become familiar with the branding; the details featured online will be the same as the products found in any store across the country. Additionally, Spring Air also bolstered the collection with a clearer merchandising story. Each tier of the full line-up is visually differentiated through the cover fabrics, which become an incrementally darker heather gray as the price point increases.
As part of its bold rebrand, Corsicana made the decision to aggressively reduce the number of SKUs it offers. In the past, the brand had offered a wide variety of collections, mattresses and even cover fabrics. By limiting the number of options—both by eliminating low-performing models and streamlining styling choices—Corsicana is able to lower costs for its retail partners. The company’s American Bedding collection was designed specifically for consumers who are looking for a more straight-forward shopping experience. The line comes with two support options—open-coil or pocketed coil—each of which are available in the company’s “Triple Choice” of soft, medium or firm configurations. For its new Early Bird collection, Corsicana clearly delineated between the hybrid and all-foam options via the colored tape-edge.
Building upon its ongoing position as the industry’s sales leader, Serta made strategic updates to its mattress portfolio to ensure that they will remain competitive in today’s marketplace. That meant simplifying its merchandising and creating clearer step-up stories across four distinct price tiers. The company took a similar approach to its adjustable base program, winnowing down the offerings so they correlate to the new mattress step-up story. This not only makes it easier for consumers to understand the benefits, but creates a clearer add-on opportunity for retailers. The rebranded super promotional line, Serta Sleep True, starts at just $299 and is now complemented by the all-new promotional Motion Slim adjustable base. Together, this creates a customizable sleep system with head-up features that will retail for less than $800—making it an attractive and easy to understand sales story for all consumers.
Reframing The Sale To A FULL Sleep System
According to John Rachid, the president of Protect-A-Bed, simply increasing accessories sales from two percent to ten percent—without increasing the number of customers, tickets or mattress units—can help furniture retailers grow their top-line sales by nine percent. This statistic underscores the importance of accessories sales. But introducing consumers to a mattress, then trying to persuade them to spend more on additional items isn’t the easiest sell. At market, numerous manufacturers explained a new approach—one that ultimately has the consumer’s best interests in mind and that will likely increase the retailer’s bottom line. Instead of introducing consumers to their mattress options then throwing in a pitch for an accessory or two, these companies are encouraging their partners to reframe the whole sales conversation by presenting customers with a sleep system that includes the mattress program, adjustable base, protector and more from the outset.
This fresh approach doesn’t just reframe the sale, it reframes how we think about sleep and sleep products. Including sleep enhancing accessories from the beginning as part of a complete “system” encourages customers to try products they might not experience otherwise—products that will elevate their sleep experience. This conversation presents the accessories not as separate items or add-ons, but as essential pieces to a custom sleep system designed to support the individual sleep needs of every shopper—one that will deliver better health benefits than the mattress alone. Without all parts of the system working together, the system is incomplete.
Ergomotion offers a robust portfolio of adjustable bases and motion bedroom furniture all along the price spectrum. From its ultra slim Element to its premium Elite 360, the manufacturer’s bases can slip under any bed to enhance the feel of the mattress and increase the final sales ticket. Ergomotion’s sales trainers recommend that retailers not only approach the mattress and base sale as a complete system, but they also encourage their partners to drive the numerous health benefits of adjustable bases home. They aren’t just for watching tv, in fact, they could be the perfect solution to any number of sleep health concerns.
According to Deena Gardner, Reverie’s director of marketing, “If you don’t know it, you won’t show it—and if you don’t show it, you won’t sell it.” With this in mind, Reverie is solidly focused on educating retailers to ensure that they have the confidence to include adjustable bases in every sales conversation. It’s even easier to include bases in every sale if you’re making the adjustable base an integral part of the complete sleep system. Reverie’s 2019 line-up provides numerous opportunities to add adjustable bases to the sales ticket. Offering four models in the line-up, all of which are easy to ship, the brand is notably bringing a promotional base into the mix to provide a gateway for first-time buyers.
PureCare unveiled quite a few new products at market, as well as compelling new in-store tools to enhance the experience of purchasing its sleep accessories. From the newly rounded-out Tencel line-up to the entry-level FabricTech collection, PureCare offers all the top-of-bed products needed to create a complete sleep system (even on a budget). And its new in-store build-outs are simple to install, come with clever signage and offer consumers an opportunity to engage with the soft-goods by touching and feeling them. The build-out’s adjustable shelves offer flexibility in the appearance of the displays and because they take up little space there is no need to remove any mattresses from the floor. Instead, the 10-ft build-outs make it simple to guide a customer through the process of building their complete sleep system.
Understanding the importance of top-of-bed sales for brick and mortar shops, Protect-A-Bed is investing heavily in helping its partners elevate the in-store experience and better showcase top-of-bed accessories. According to John Rachid, the company’s president, the key to recapturing the “wealth of profit” that top-of-bed sales can afford is to create a shopping environment that clearly communicates the value of these products. Coupling education with a fun and engaging sales process helps consumers feel more confident investing in full bedding programs. To help RSA’s facilitate a more enjoyable in-store experience, Protect-A-Bed provides more than just product information in its PAB University training program. The program also offers participants valuable insights into how RSA’s can successfully add accessories to the mattress ticket. Additionally, the company’s modular racking system enhances a traditional package-based approach with more interactive touch and texture experiences.
Glideaway is also making adjustable bases accessible to consumers on a budget with a new easy-to-assemble entry-level collection. Each model in the line-up, the Arden, Huntey and Edison, has a split deck and ships in two pieces. While the brand has a reputation for its adjustable bases, it rounds out its offerings by providing mattresses and pillows too, namely its Awakening mattress collection and new Arcus and Alto pillows—truly one-stop shopping for the complete sleep system.
Health & Wellness Promoting Technologies
As consumers continue to understand all the ways that sleep contributes to overall health and wellbeing, sleep products are continuously becoming a part of the health and wellness product category. As such, manufacturers are building more health and wellness oriented technologies into their products.
From incorporating performance fabrics into the top of the sleep surface to infusing foams with copper and carbon, the brands below showcased a variety of multi-dimensional products developed to enhance sleep quality and support overall wellbeing. While these materials may sound unexpected for the bedroom, each offers features that make for a cleaner, more comfortable and often much cooler sleep system—in some cases they even promote greater recovery at night allowing the sleeper to have more energy each day.
Delivering a safer night sleep, copper infused foam is antibacterial and antimicrobial meaning that it inhibits the growth of bacteria as well as molds and fungi. Copper also transfers heat so that consumers can enjoy the feel of foam without sleeping too hot. Carbon strengthens foam and draws heat away from the body. Finally, technical textiles like Celliant and performance fabrics that integrate nanobionic technology offer both cooling properties and rejuvenation benefits allowing users to gain more mileage out of every night of sleep.
Combining the technical textile Celliant with PureCare's exclusive Omniguard Advance fabric, PureCare’s Celliant pillow and mattress protectors are all treated with antimicrobial silver chloride to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew. Designed to help consumers recover faster in a cleaner, more hygienic sleep environment, the protectors use Celliant fibers to absorb energy emitted by the human body and recycle it back into the body, helping the sleeper feel more awake every morning.
Helping enhance the body’s energy, stimulate blood flow and promote a higher quality of sleep, the new Signature Sleep Reset mattress features outer fabric made with nanobionic technology. Already prevalent in the apparel industry, nanobionic performance fabric is a cutting-edge technology that works by transforming body heat into invisible waves of energy called Far Infrared Rays that flow back into the body.
Brooklyn Bedding’s Spartan delivers extreme recovery for the extreme athlete. By combining elite performance fabric with nanobionic technology, the Spartan is designed to help sleepers reset and rejuvenate quicker by harnessing and recycling the body’s natural energy throughout the sleep cycle.
Also taking a performance approach to sleep, Corsicana developed the copper-infused Renue mattress. This collection is built to transform sleep, using copper to deliver a whole list of specific benefits. The Renue mattress supports recovery by providing optimal support, while the copper in the foam delivers a cooling benefits and anti-microbial properties.
At the winter Las Vegas Market, Eclipse introduced the latest additions to its Ernest Hemingway brand—including the new Key West Collection. This Collection features a wrapped innerspring unit with eight-inch, foam-encased coils. All three models are made with copper-infused latex to better conform to the sleeper’s body. Dressed in striking jungle print POP, the collection is sure to draw attention on the showroom floor.
Entering 2019 with a complete rebrand and focus on health and wellness, Diamond Mattress now offers the health conscious consumer an array of products that emphasize mindfulness and wellbeing. In particular, its hybrid Intention mattress is made with layered foam and coils designed to relieve pressure and offer balanced comfort. Featuring graphene infused Diamond sparkle foam, the bed dissipates heat from the surface of the skin.
Rethinking Logistics, Service & Support
"What’s the most exciting new product you’ve seen?" It’s a question we hear over and over again as we make our way around the market showrooms. While we can usually point to one or two new innovative technologies or creative configurations, this market we realized that, more often, some of the most exciting developments are coming from the service and support side of the business. Because while product ingenuity is essential to keeping the industry moving forward, it’s not always the most important indicator of sales success. Increasingly, it’s the more behind-the-scenes factors like fulfillment and shipping logistics that are keeping companies competitive. They may not be the flashiest of assets, but forward-thinking service and support can take a retail partnership to the next level.
Because, like it or not, the e-commerce market has changed consumers’ expectations—and Amazon has further skewed their perspective when it comes to shipping costs and delivery times. People want their purchases to arrive quickly no matter where they are ordering from, and they don’t want to face added fees to get that. These shifting expectations start long before the sale is made too. In today’s marketplace, retail support has to be more than just in-store signage and co-op advertising. Manufacturers have to invest in really understanding how people are shopping. What’s influencing their decision-making? What are their expectations before, during and after the sale?
In order to effectively meet these changing needs, companies first have to ensure that they have the infrastructure in place to sustain them. From expanded distribution and more efficient fulfillment to more targeted marketing and training, these companies are bolstering their product portfolios with advanced service, logistics and support.
Classic Brands has been steadily growing and increasing its market share over the years, in part because of its pragmatic approach to retailer support. In addition to offering a wide range of mattress options at approachable price points, the company is dedicated to helping its retail partners stay ahead of how the market is evolving by understanding what consumers want, then providing the necessary support to meet those demands. And while some manufacturers have been focused on building their own branding, Classic has invested heavily in private labeling. This allows retailers to customize the products and programs to the unique needs of their market. But one of Classic Brands’ biggest differentiators is its drop-shipping capabilities. The company not only ships products directly to customers—which is beneficial for both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailers—it also has equipped its warehouses with UPS and FedEx weigh centers, which makes the shipping process more efficient and saves on costs. It also allows retailers to provide their customers with the immediate satisfaction of getting tracking information on their purchases almost right away.
Understanding that roll-packing has become an essential part of any mattress portfolio, Therapedic focused much of its winter product roll-out on new bed-in-a-box offerings. The company showcased a variety of different options across multiple price points and programs, including both brick-and-mortar and direct-to-consumer options. The new Whisper collection was a highlight of the Therapedic showroom. Designed for in-store retail partners, the line fulfills a growing consumer interest in roll-packed innerspring mattresses. In order to maximize the impact of this collection, the company bolstered its relationship with Leggett & Platt. In addition to developing the line’s new edge-to-edge coil unit, Leggett is also supporting some of the production of the collection - as not all of Therapedic’s licensees have the proper machinery for roll-packing. As such, the company is able to ensure distribution of the Whisper line to retailers nationwide.
Tempur Sealy’s new Retail Edge program was designed to help retailers connect with how consumers want to shop today. The program was developed with input gleaned from an in-depth quantitative market research study, which surveyed over 15,000 consumers in order to create a clearer picture of the average mattress purchase journey and the issues and barriers that prevent many shoppers from actually completing it. The first step of the Retail Edge program is a 360-degree health check, through which the company’s sales reps evaluate the retailers needs before determining a wide range of solutions and resources. By offering training, digital, advertising, in-store and product assortment solutions that are geared towards shoppers needs, Retail Edge allows retailers to deliver a more personalized and connected experience at each stage of the purchase journey—helping shoppers find their perfect mattress and retailers ensure a sale.
While OMI has been a veteran leader in the luxury, organic bedding market for quite some time, the company has been quietly carving out another niche for itself through its successful social marketing strategy. Thanks in part to president Jeff Bader’s background in IT, the company has a level of online expertise that it has been able to leverage for its partners’ benefit. OMI’s super-targeted approach to digital advertising has been notably effective in driving in-store traffic to retailers. Understanding the long-term value of quality over quantity, the company is dedicated to investing heavily in its retailers on everything from IT support and lead generation to in-store training.
Last year, Malouf added more than 1 million square feet to its total warehouse space by acquiring a new distribution property in central Ohio. Strategically selected to improve shipping for its wholesale partners, this new facility has allowed the company to expand its reach and ship its entire product line to the Midwest and Northeast. It also further supports the company’s order processing system, which allows it to quickly and efficiently fulfill and ship orders. Malouf now boasts an average delivery time of less than two days for any order in the continental United States. The company also recently announced plans to triple the size of its Utah headquarters. In addition to adding a new 23,000 square-foot showroom space, the expansion will include dedicated workspaces for the Malouf videography and photography teams with updated lifestyle sets, a natural light studio, sound booth, green rooms and more. With these new resources, the company will be able to enhance the already unparalleled creative marketing support it offers its retail partners.
Even Smarter Beds
We are living in an on-demand world. With the advent of smart home technologies and automated workflows on the job, most people are using technology of all kinds to make their work and home lives more efficient. The vast majority of people are highly motivated to find more and more ways to live better, whether that means making more time for what they enjoy, being a better parent or accomplishing more at work—all of which starts with good health.
Smart beds are designed to help support consumers’ desire to be healthier and more efficient by recording data on how its users sleep, adjusting to their individual needs and in some cases even offering tips to help improve sleep. While each type offers its own special features, smart beds generally deliver a customized sleep experience by automatically sensing the user’s needs then adjusting accordingly. As we learn more and more about how sleep impacts overall health and productivity, it’s apparent that success during the day starts with quality rest at night, which makes the value proposition of the smart bed even more appealing. To meet this need, several manufacturers have developed tech-filled smart mattresses with varying features and benefits.
With five zones, each corresponding to a part of the body (Head, Shoulder, Lumbar, Hips, and Legs), the ReST bed monitors the sleeper’s unique shape and pressure profile using a fabric embedding inside the mattress. Using this sleep data, the smart bed automatically adjusts its firmness levels in real time to support healthier sleep. Consumers can use an app to customize their level of support in each of the five zones as well. On the app, ReSTdash reports the sleep data collected and used throughout the night to help sleepers consciously adjust their habits to improve their sleep even more.
Magniflex recently introduced the US market to its Magni Smartech adjustable base at CES. Offering a full range of positions, the Magni Smartech equips users with four chromotherapy programs—wake-up, relax, hot and manual. Each under-bed lighting program sets the tone for the nightly routine. In addition to its unique chromotherapy feature, Magni Smartech also offers comprehensive sleep tracking as well as adjustability.
Kingsdown’s Epitome offers the pinnacle of comfort control. Activated via remote, app or voice commands, the system allows users to adjust the mattress, sensor both sides of the mattress, track their sleep, sleep safe and choose a custom cover fabric. The Epitome’s sleep data reporting is particularly detailed but easy to comprehend. Retailing at $2,499, this smart system covers all the bases of personalized sleep.