There was a plenty of energy at the Las Vegas Market this winter. The hallways felt busier than usual, with a significant amount of foot traffic coming in and out of the showrooms. As we chatted with manufacturers and perused the new product introductions, it was clear that the industry is really starting to think differently about how to make and sell bedding. Everyone seemed excited about the future and what it may bring to the sleep marketplace.
When it comes to marketing, more companies have been looking outside the mattress market for talent. These new leaders are bringing fresh eyes to an industry that has often been stuck in a bubble. Rather than simply relying on what has worked in the past, brands are thinking critically about today’s consumers: from what concerns they may have to what motivates them to buy.
Across the board, we saw a much greater willingness to invest in the future. A number of companies unveiled new, bigger showrooms at the World Market Center. And instead of packing these new rooms to the gills with product, product, product, they utilized the added space to stage their collections in more creative ways. Many of these showrooms are now reflecting the trend towards experiential retail, highlighting the type of service and support these brands are able to offer its partners.
From new product categories and rebrand reveals to new techniques for driving traffic and doing good in the world, we really enjoyed seeing all the new, different and compelling ways that bedding manufacturers are reimagining today's sleep marketplace.
The latest trend in health and wellness, CBD, made its way to the bedding and mattress market this winter. Touting potential benefits like relaxation and pain relief, CBD is a natural derivative of the cannabis plant, the non-psychoactive portion, not to be confused with its potent counterpart, THC. By law, CBD products may contain no more than 0.3% THC. Products made with CBD oil have already flooded the health and wellness markets in many forms—topical ointments, tinctures and edible treats are just a few of the ways consumers are seeking to reap the benefits of this trending product. And now, the sleep industry has also woken up to the sleep health possibilities that can be derived from CBD. At the winter Las Vegas market, we saw a number of ways that manufacturers have brought CBD into both sleep accessories and mattresses. From Therapedic’s new b-Calm bed with a CBD infused cover and foams to NCFI’s CBD pillow with oil infused cover, there are many options to consider if you’re thinking about including CBD sleep products in your store. And, there are some lesser known benefits that make CBD even more valuable for sleep retailers like its anti-microbial properties.
As we took a look at Therapedic’s new b-Calm mattress, we also had the chance to talk with the company’s CBD supplier about the product release. Through our conversation with Seed2System’s Shane Mutter, we learned so much about hemp, CBD oil and the process by which products are infused with the substance. Functioning transdermally, CBD is infused in the latex layers of the b-Calm mattress and while the CBD might fade slightly over time, it does so only subtly. Contrary to popular belief, this mattress is not necessarily going to give sleepers a buzz or a high. Instead, this earthy-toned line-up is really meant to deliver a subdued sense of calm, anti-microbial properties and, as with any Therapedic mattress, a quality night’s sleep. The new collection is set to begin at $999 in queen and will include three models, one all foam and two hybrids. The distinguishing feature in all three models will be Innergetic CBD-infused graphite latex and the CBD-infused cover. The line will be available to retailers either flat-packed or roll-packed.
Combining the soothing effects of CBD with its premium pillow technology, Malouf launched its new CBD Pillow collection at the winter market. Available in three models: the ActiveDough, Zoned Dough, and Shoulder Zoned Dough, Malouf’s new pillow models come with a CBD spritzer to refresh the cover. With an earthy and natural aesthetic, the pillow lineup offers the same cover as the Triple Layer Down pillow from Malouf.
As cannabis continues to become more popular in consumer products because of its health and healing properties, MLILY USA unveiled its organic, wellness-inspired hybrid mattress featuring a CBD-infused fabric at the winter Las Vegas market. The Mprove debuted with a choice of firmness levels – medium and plush—and also features a combination of memory foams designed with bamboo, charcoal and copper. Priced to retail at $2,999 in queen, the 15-inch profile features CBD-infused foam to promote a sounder sleep experience. The hemp oil, extracted from natural marijuana, has the potential to be effective in relieving anxiety, allergies, eczema and pain. The hybrid mattress incorporates MLILY’s pocket spring design crafted with a unique spindle shape, allowing the mattress to be roll-packed.
Another brand to deliver a compelling new CBD pillow program is NCFI. The BioLux CBD Pillow, priced to retail at $89.99, is a molded memory foam pillow offering a medium firmness. Covered in a 420 gram circular knit fabric infused with CBD oil, the pillow is designed to deliver a calming, more restorative sleep. A bit different than some of the other products we saw at market, the NCFI pillow features CBD that is embedded in the cover textile rather than the foam itself. This cover was designed so that users, if they so choose, could opt to sleep without a pillowcase to allow for skin contact with the CBD oil infusion and a potentially more potent effect.
Strategic Traffic Drivers
With the retail landscape undergoing such seismic shifts over the past decade, the issue of dwindling in-store traffic has remained a primary concern for the bedding industry. Facing an ever-growing direct-to-consumer category and a generally over-crowded market, retailers are still struggling to figure out how to get shoppers in the door. At the same time, it has become clear that the “one-size-fits-all” / “at-home trial” approach that many online brands have adopted is actually driving up returns and hurting sales. At market, we saw a number of bedding brands unveiling programs centered around driving traffic back to brick-and-mortar stores.
After years of trying to fight back against the onslaught of online sales, the industry has finally caught up with the realities of how people want to shop these days. By investing in better digital support, these brands are helping retailers engage shoppers at the research stage, providing them with the information they’re looking for and directing them to physical store locations. By connecting with consumers online in a meaningful way and then reinforcing the value of the in-store rest-test, this type of digital support not only helps drive store traffic—but delivers more qualified potential customers to retailers.
The appeal of the roll-packed delivery still endures, of course. We saw a few new boxed beds in unexpected places this market - namely, from brands that had previously eschewed the category. These new models are quality alternatives to online-only options, and come with the added value of being backed by trusted names in the industry. At the same time, there was also a greater focus on private labeling as an opportunity to drive traffic. These white label programs are strategically designed to leverage the brand awareness that many retail chains already wield. Rather than try to penetrate the market with a new name, private label builds on already established recognition.
By finding the right balance between old and new, traditional and forward-thinking, these brands are building programs to help retailers increase their traffic and recapture lost customers.
Always one to think about the bigger picture, Classic Brands’ new Hybrid Infinity collection is a comprehensive program designed to help retailers compete against the ecommerce mattress market. As a private label program, the collection allows retailers to leverage their existing brand awareness. But more than just a compelling product story, the collection comes with the support of a full-service marketing program. It has a full array of plug-and-play digital assets built into it, including co-op advertising, customer reviews and social media marketing. These tools further enhance the brand story and provide retailers with the resources they need to really engage with today’s consumers. The line has already proven to be a winner: the launch was one of the most successful in Sit N Sleep history. Classic Brands is now looking to recreate this success with 10 key retailers, all of whom will get exclusivity in their territory.
One of the biggest surprises at market was the introduction of a new boxed bed from Kingsdown. The luxurious brand has long shied away from this category, but requests from its retail partners led the company to reconsider. The result is a roll-packed collection that delivers all the key conveniences consumers are looking for—while still maintaining a distinctly Kingsdown look and feel. The line is made with foam layers that have been designed to mimic the function and support of coils through interlocking cuts and air channels. This high-density responsive foam and ventilated comfort layers are further enhanced through a range of cooling features, including C3 temperature-regulating technology, gel pads and Cool-Touch cover fabric. The unique embroidered cover combines a soft and luxurious fabric with athletic mesh paneling details, designed to enhance comfort by facilitating more airflow. Pricing the line-up at $1399, the company is not angling to be the cheapest option on the market. Instead, it is bringing its reputation for both style and substance to this category—offering retailers necessary differentiation in a crowded arena.
Over the years, Boyd Sleep has carved a valuable niche for itself in the industry by working closely with popular furniture brands like Thomasville and Broyhill. The company has been thoughtful about its licensing decisions, focusing on names with built-in consumer awareness within the home category. At the winter market, it debuted its latest partnership: the Nautica Home Collection. Retailing from $599 to $999, the five-bed line offers a range of features and benefits including Celliant responsive fiber technology that captures the body’s natural energy to help ensure a more rejuvenating sleep. To further support the new line-up, Boyd developed a dedicated website for the collection. Not only does the site provide pertinent product details and leverage the SEO power of the Nautica brand name, it also actively guides consumers through the research stage. The company designed the mattress selector quiz to help users determine which mattress is best for their needs—and then show them where they can buy that exact model in store. The goal of the site is to bridge the gap between the online and in-store experience. Not only does it help consumers navigate an often confusing process, it also delivers more qualified potential customers to the retail store.
When it comes to private label support, Diamond Mattress has been a long-time leader in the space. As an OEM provider, the company has 80 years of expertise to draw from—and the manufacturing capabilities to develop truly customized mattress programs. Diamond works closely with all of its private label partners to develop curated collections that will allow them to better target their specific demographics. By making all of its own components in-house, the company is able to offer in-demand features—such as copper memory foam, cool-to-the-touch fabrics and high-quality hybrid designs—at more affordable price points. But Diamond also understands that its manufacturing capability is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. Following its own consumer-focused rebrand last year, the company also has the branding expertise to help retailers connect with new potential customers. With a robust marketing support team on hand, Diamond helps with any branding and design needs—and helps retailers routinely plan for future upgrades to keep the product fresh.
Spring Air was another company to make an unexpected foray into the boxed bed category. In recent years, the company has been steadily focused on the $1,000+ price point—so this new collection marks a meaningful entrance into the entry-level price category. Tapping into its global network of licensing partners, Spring Air teamed up with one of its international suppliers to develop a tariff-free alternative to the growing direct-to-consumer channel. Priced to retail from $299 to $599, the four-model collection is able to offer retailers a truly velocity-priced option that still maintains Spring Air’s manufacturing standards. The opening all-foam model features a combination of cool-gel, bamboo-infused memory foam and six inches of green tea-enhanced memory foam. The next two offerings build upon this design, creating a clear step-up story with increasingly more materials and taller foam layers. At the top end of the line is a hybrid mattress, which features memory foam, pocketed coils and a combination of gel-infused memory foam, bamboo and charcoal ventilated foam. Backed by the Spring Air brand name, the line-up was designed to provide retailers with a more legitimate alternative to other low-cost mattress models on the market. By offering higher quality materials at such approachable price points, Spring Air has created a valuable cash-and-carry option that will help retailers compete in today’s marketplace.
Tempur-Sealy continues to help its retail partners meet the changing needs of today’s shoppers through its comprehensive Retail Edge program. This unique support hub is designed to deliver customized, consultative service to retailers of all kinds. The process begins with a 360 health check, which identifies the specific needs of the retail brand. Tempur Sealy recently refined that stage of the process in order to create a more comprehensive snapshot of how the retailer is faring in today’s marketplace. Recognizing that no two retailers are alike, this process aims to identify the unique position of each partner—so they can customize solutions to really work for them. The goal is to help retailers get to their next level, whatever that may look like. After the needs identification, the company then focuses on five solutions categories, utilizing a suite of experts to help provide the necessary support. Whether identifying the trends in their demographic to help better curate their assortment of products, providing more robust digital marketing assets or offering in-depth training, Tempur Sealy’s Retail Edge program delivers comprehensive cross-platform support to help retailers adapt to today’s dynamic marketplace.
STORIS, Retailer Web Services and Podium are just a few companies helping retailers adapt to the changing marketplace. For many consumers, the first step of their shopping process is online research—which means that both manufacturers and retailers alike need to invest in their digital presence. From their own website to social media to online advertising, the digital landscape is an essential part of driving real-life traffic. In particular, online reviews have proven to be essential to the purchasing journey of today. Consumers look to these peer reviews for validation; they’re not just looking for raves, but even simple confirmation that other people have purchased a given product.
Fresh Looks, New Messaging
In today’s world, retail is changing rapidly and retailers need partners that know how to pivot. We saw quite a few manufacturers at market who are hard at work keeping up with the times, staying relevant and being thoughtful about messaging. Moving past the way things have always been done, these brands are building towards a new kind of solution and in doing so are offering retailers who choose to partner with them quite a competitive edge. Whether it’s delivering a transparent and streamlined value proposition like Englander, focusing on younger audiences looking for healing and wellness products like Blu Sleep, the data-driven brand reinvention we saw from Simmons or the shift from power bases to “wellness retreats” in the Ergomotion showroom, these transformations and others offer a glimpse into the future of the sleep industry.
In our winter cover story, we detailed Englander’s new brand positioning, one that squarely claims that “sleep is not rocket science.” The brand’s new message—that quality products can be simple and transparent—is a “get real” kind of approach to the bedding and mattress market. Under the guidance of the company’s new president and CEO, Mark Kinsley, Englander has emerged from its rebrand looking modern, sleek and simple. It is focusing on being straight with consumers—a mantra that harkens to messages coming from the online brands, but is instead backed up by an experienced manufacturer that really knows how to make mattresses. Kinsley says it best, “We want to make mattresses that we would be comfortable giving to our moms. We don’t want to complicate it with fake innovation and technology that’s really not technology. We want to use what’s proven to perform and what’s been refined over time and put that in a mattress in ways that we know deliver amazing comfort.”
With a modern feel to its packaging and general aesthetic, a new and innovative pillow program and a continuation of its rebrand from a summer ago, Blu Sleep went to market with a bright vision—one that will continue to unfold throughout the year. Touting a spa-like showroom with crisp whites and striking color blocking, the brand introduced its new Ceramo pillows and Conforma mattress collection at market. But beyond its product launches, the company is just beginning to reposition itself as much more of a health and wellness brand, offering a brand message that will most likely resonate with younger consumers. By thinking not just about how we sleep at night, but also about how younger and often urban consumers live, Blu Sleep understands the bedroom as more than a place to rest your head. For many younger consumers, the bedroom is a place to chill, unwind and watch TV, and in small studio apartments, the bedroom might function as sleeping space as well as a living room. Moving into 2020, Blu Sleep has this realistic concept of the bedroom in mind as it develops more programs that will prove valuable for young consumers.
Using robust research and strong consumer insights, SSB reimagined the 150-year old Simmons legacy brand for a world where beds come in boxes, quick-ship is demanded and life stages rule consumer mattress purchasing decisions. With two new mattresses and a bold new marketing campaign, Simmons has been reinvented as a playful, value-priced “first-mattress”—designed specifically for the way Gen Z and Millennials shop today. Popping with color, Instagrammable moments and fun interactive games like a claw machine, the Simmons segment of the SSB showroom was definitely meant to reflect the values of the brand’s new market positioning: youthful, playful and approachable. By March, Simmons plans to launch its own DTC website, designed to inspire Gen Z and Millennials to continue to bring the ‘Fun-ZZZs’ back to sleep.
The Santa Barbara-inspired spa atmosphere of Ergomotion’s bold new showroom made a big impact at market. The space showcased bedroom vignettes with luxurious and high-tech products with which consumers can fully elevate the experience they enjoy in their bedroom. In an effort to drive up value and price in the adjustable base category, the brand has integrated adjustable bases into stylish bed frame and headboard sets. Its “Wellness Retreat” collection features four fully upholstered adjustable beds that were designed around consumer testing research. The Relax includes a speaker system built into the upholstered frame, an aromatherapy diffuser integrated directly into the headboard and a sonic massage—this is for a consumer looking for absolute opulence in the bedroom. Geared toward the more stressed-out, techy consumer, the Restore has all the same features as the Relax with the addition of a built-in sleep tracker and the subtraction of the diffuser. Focused on the “aging in place population,” the Renew includes a sleep tracker and the entire bed raises up and down to make it easy to get out of bed while also accommodating caregiver support. Finally, the Rewind targets the architecturally-inclined consumer—the headboard was designed by Simone Michel and while the features are the most basic in the collection, the look is the most high-end. Merging high-style aesthetics with advanced wellness technology, Ergomotion is fully reinventing the way we talk about the adjustable base category with this collection, its new showroom and its reimagined brand ethos.
Proactive Sleep Technologies
Over the years, the world of health and wellness has become more and more entwined with the tech industry—from fitness trackers to connected home products. We’ve seen this within the bedding industry too, as sleep monitoring and adjustable bases have moved from the healthcare category to become mainstays in the consumer market. But despite the industry buzz, many brands are still grappling with how to meaningfully integrate these advanced technologies into consumer products. While the mere inclusion of new tech-focused features was once enough to build a program around, it seems as though that allure has faded. Companies are now tasked with thinking through how these technologies can really help a person sleep better. Rather than simply providing consumers with raw data about their sleep, or the ability to move and customize their sleep surface—these companies have developed products that harness these features to deliver more proactive sleep solutions.
While Intellibed has been long known for its innovative “gel grid” support system, the company has taken its unique approach to sleep technology to the next level with Sleep Genius. This comprehensive sleep system features six sound speakers mounted to the base underneath the head position. When turned on, the speakers’ sonic transducers use sound frequencies to mimic the rocking motion that helps lull the consumer to sleep. The bed is also equipped with a sonic massage feature, which can be synced to the sound of the head speakers as well, while the positioning of the adjustable base can be controlled via an app. Touting a greater focus on health and wellness, Intellibed designed the Sleep Genius system to do more than just basic data collection. “We don’t track, we treat,” the company said. Sleep Genius doesn’t provide users with any sleep data, but rather uses its advanced technologies to provide active solutions.
Since debuting the product at the summer market, the company has been beta testing it at six key retail accounts. With the next wave of distribution launching in March and a full roll-out planned by the end of the year, Tempur-Pedic is taking a slower approach to scaling the program. As more and more consumers start using the base, the company is collecting more data - which allows them to further optimize the solutions. The ErgoSmart technology was designed to be easily upgraded as well; the software can be updated remotely not unlike updating the operating system on a smart phone. In addition to delivering personalized sleep coaching that is curated to the user’s unique needs, it also provides smart sleep solutions. Medical-grade sensor technology detects snoring not by sound but highly sensitive vibration tracking. When snoring is detected, the base adjusts automatically, raising the head by eight degrees.
The Aireloom Adapt/React smart mattress combines the brand’s commitment to artisan luxury with more forward-thinking sleep innovation. Using NGMATT Technology, the system is able to collect a series of key data points, learn the consumer’s unique sleep patterns and automatically adjust the firmness level to better support each body’s unique needs. The body scan monitors identify the pressure points on the body and tracks movement during the night. After three initial sleep sessions, the system then uses a proprietary algorithm to analyze that pressure map in order to suggest the best comfort and support levels. With four air chambers across the sleep surface, couples can both customize their side of the bed to their own needs. Users can also choose to upload their sleep quality report at any time, prompting the mattress to re-adjust based on the new information. This allows the bed to continually accommodate the needs of the body, no matter how it changes over time.
ReST has been a pioneer in the smart sleep category since 2015. The company’s high-tech ReST Bed not only offers data-driven comfort and support customization - it does so automatically and unobtrusively. Using a patented pressure-sensing technology that is integrated directly into the fabric of the mattress, the ReST Bed reliably captures key data about the user: pressure, movement, respiration rate, along with sleep stages, cycles and duration. This information is then used to customize the comfort of five adjustable air zones across each side of the bed. As the sleeper moves during the night, the bed is constantly adjusting to accommodate them—meaning that it is always providing the exact level of pressure relief and support they need to get their best night sleep.
Malouf highlighted its Adjustable Base series at market, along with an array of upgraded features. The company has been investing heavily in artificial intelligence research in order to improve the functionality of both its bases and the Malouf Base App. In addition to offering new voice activation shortcuts and “Partner Control,” the newest addition to the Base App is Snore Detection. The system is designed to monitor the sleeper’s sound and movement. When snoring is detected, the base automatically adjusts the head positioning up by seven degrees - which has been shown to help stop snoring.
Customatic introduced two unique sleep technologies at market, both of which work to proactively address some of the most common nighttime struggles. The first is the SnoreTech, a sleep monitor that helps alleviate snoring. Using a proprietary software and a series of biometric readings (including the sleeper’s heart rate, breathing rate and amount of movement), the monitor can detect when the sleeper is snoring—and then automatically triggers the adjustable base to move the angle of the head in two-degree increments until the snoring stops. If the snoring continues over time, a three-second pulsating massage may also be triggered. Customatic also unveiled the Climate Cloud at market, an advanced air filtering system that helps consumers maintain an optimal sleeping temperature. The system works by drawing in the surrounding air and circulating it around the sleeper’s body. This not only helps maintain a 62 to 67 degree environment, it also helps control moisture and humidity.
Choosing To Do The Right Thing
At Sleep Retailer, we are always proponents of doing the right thing. And this market, we felt that so many brands were seeking new ways to do good in the world. Looking beyond profit to commit to greater causes, brands are finding new ways to be responsible and transparent—in addition to endlessly integrating charitable work not just into the surface of what they do but into the very fabric of their companies. From NCFI’s USDA Biopreferred Mattress, Brooklyn Bedding’s use of recycled Talalay latex to Aireloom’s new Karpen Natural collection and more, brands are tuned into the need for more sustainable manufacturing processes, natural stories, health and wellness focused ethos’. This ideology extends beyond the products as well, as many of these companies are investing in their employees, immediate communities and beyond. We’ve rounded up a few examples of brands we thought really shined in this area at market.
Unveiling its new Karpen Natural collection this winter, the Kluft showroom was literally bursting with green—its middle archway was festooned with hanging plants. This new collection touts a sustainability story by featuring natural ingredients and covers. And, while the brand has used natural materials in the past, this is the first line to be dedicated to them. With six hybrid beds in the collection, Karpen Natural mattresses are made using 100% natural latex, wool quilting and cashmere. Utilizing SeaCell fabric—a seaweed infused textile that gives the bed a soft feel—the collection offers both a luxury story and a natural story at an approachable price point. By partnering with One Tree Planted, the brand also offers the consumer an opportunity to do good with every purchase—each mattress bought translates to a new tree planted.
Taking a fully comprehensive approach to sustainability, Brooklyn Bedding strives for zero waste in its factory. Ninety-nine percent of the raw materials it uses, from threads and tapes to foams and coils, are recyclable. Raw materials and foam remnants have a variety of uses, including the construction of common home products like carpet pads. The brand also repurposes its own clean, lower-density foam, leftover from mattress construction, to produce one of its popular sleep accessories: the Premium Shredded Foam Pillow. Additionally, Brooklyn Bedding also offers a number of mattresses featuring sustainable materials. The primary materials in the Bloom Hybrid, for instance, are either natural or recyclable. Its Bloom Essential Hybrid, which uses Talalay Echo foam is processed by repurposing unused fabrication cuts to deliver all the benefits of latex while reducing waste. Since Brooklyn Bedding uses recycled materials in many of its products, the brand is also able to offer more affordable solutions to retailers and consumers alike. Fully dedicated to minimizing its eco footprint, the company is always looking for new ways to improve the manufacturing process from an environmental standpoint.
At the winter market, Spaldin showcased an alternative mattress manufacturing process it developed using a modular design. By connecting the mattress layers in a reversible manner, the company ensures its products are fully recyclable while also enabling frequent maintenance for quality and hygiene purposes. No glues or foams are used in Spaldin’s manufacturing process. With this new series of products, the company takes a step further on the road to sustainability. Its philosophy of a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. This entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system.
Certified under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program as a bio-based product, NCFI’s BioLux Mattress is ideal for the environmentally-conscious customer. Designed using proprietary foams and a fabric also certified under the program, this new mattress is priced to retail at $1,299. The 11-inch BioLux Mattress is crafted with two foam layers—an eight-inch foam base topped with a three-inch layer of NCFI’s four-pound memory foam. Both layers are certified under the BioPreferred program. Dressed in a zippered cover made of fine organic cotton, the BioLux Mattress is the fifth, and most recent product developed by NCFI utilizing renewable technology.
A long time leader in pushing the sleep market towards a heightened health and wellness focus, Reverie is not only dialed into sleep research (as evidenced by this sleep health feature focused on sleep latency), but the brand is also conscientious within its own community of Detroit and interested in creating a strong community within its own walls as a company. With start-up roots, Reverie took its R&D side of the business to Detroit because it offered the proper infrastructure, available and affordable talent. Striving to give back to the community it calls home, Reverie has developed a supportive company culture. And, in order to continuously deliver data-driven products, technology and health focused information to retailers and consumers alike, the brand maintains a robust network of sleep coaches, scientists and doctors.