Remember the hustle and bustle of the World Market Center? Waiting for the express elevator in a crowd of people from all of the world, then packing in as many as could fit? Wandering around a busy showroom, chatting and laughing and shaking hands? Walking outside to go find your Lyft and overhearing someone say, “You know, at least it’s a dry heat,” to the person next to them?
Boy, who knew 2020 would make us nostalgic for the long, tiring days of summer market?
Things were, for obvious reasons, very different this year. With just a fraction of the bedding showrooms open, and even less attendees making the trek out to Vegas at all, this was a market unlike any other. But, as with most things over the past six months—the bedding industry adapted. Of those companies that decided not to open their showrooms, many debuted more robust digital resources and unique opportunities to connect remotely. And a small number of companies did find a way to safely welcome retailers into their market spaces.
“This has been an atypical market,” said Stephen Chen, president of MLILY USA. “While it wasn’t a great market, it was worth our time to be at the Las Vegas Market. We had scheduled appointments with retailers and even had a few come by that were not expected. The customers that came to market were serious buyers, and we were able to meet with retailers that we had been having conversations with.”
Because even with so many new obstacles, rules and anxieties, the world keeps moving. There are still beds to be made and beds to sell—and, thankfully, plenty of people who still want to buy.
Here are some of the top trends we saw (from a very safe distance) at the summer 2020 Las Vegas Market.
Collections Designed With Ecommerce In Mind
If you didn’t already know the importance of having an ecommerce strategy before this year, you sure do now. With more and more consumers not only willing but wanting to shop for a new mattress online, it’s been up to both retailers and manufacturers to adapt to these new habits. Today, mattresses of all price points and constructions can be compressed and shipped directly to buyers’ homes in a box. But designing a collection for ecommerce is about more than just making it roll-packed. You also have to think about how people are shopping and researching online. When you don’t have an RSA to explain, or a rest-test to provide a physical experience, how can you make sure you’re really engaging the consumer? It’s about more than just having a boxed bed option—it’s about having a clear story to tell.
Diamond Mattress spotlighted a variety of boxed bed collections that tout some of today’s most popular features, including: hybrid constructions, natural and organic materials, zoned coils, phase-change material foams and cooling fabrics. While the introductions may be broad, each offering delivers a specialized story and targeted solutions—helping retailers connect with how today’s consumers like to shop. Take the Ethos. This boxed mattress collection was designed with an eco-friendly story in mind. It comes in two different variations, the Ethos Natural and Ethos Organic. The Natural features an organic cotton fabric cover and Diamond’s dynamic edge wrapped coil system—while the Organic features GOLS-certified organic latex and a GOTS-certified wool border.
Magniflex’s new Gino brand, which debuted on-site at the summer market, was developed specifically for the ecommerce market. Beyond the simple, easy-to-understand product specs and vacuum-packed capabilities, the company developed a robust branding program to support the online shopping experience. This includes a coordinating website that was strategically designed to capture sales from millennial consumers. Upping the ante on the program is its playful packaging: the mattress is shipped in what looks like a box for spaghetti, highlighting the company’s Italian roots.
“The early response to our new Gino brand has been strong with independent retailers,” said Silvia Galasso, vice president of operations for Magniflex. “Our initial outreach coming into the market netted us a great deal of retail feedback and interest in the design, marketing support and story our team is building around the brand. We’re looking forward to much success from the consumer brand.”
Expanding Health And Wellness
Like ecommerce, we’ve also been talking about health and wellness for a while now. But this steadily growing focus has taken on a new vitality during the pandemic. While a new mattress can’t protect you from catching a virus, good quality sleep is a major part of improving and maintaining your body’s immune system. And it’s not just physical health either—but mental as well. Many people are struggling with new sources of anxiety compounding upon all the regular stressors of everyday life. Sleep deprivation can make it all the more difficult to manage those feelings and conditions. At a moment like this, it’s especially crucial for bedding retailers and manufacturers to make meaningful connections between sleep and wellness.
Another company that decided to open its Las Vegas Showroom, Malouf showed with a slightly smaller staff. And while Director of Marketing Scott Carr did note that there was a significant decrease in normal showroom attendance, the company was still able to connect with a number of retailers. Between both its in-person and virtual meeting options, the company estimates that it saw about 100 accounts this market—with many of the in-person visitors being local to the Las Vegas area.
This allowed Malouf to highlight two new additions to its adjustable base line, both of which were designed to offer the health benefits of adjustable sleep at a more approachable price point. The entry-level M455 enhances standard adjustable positioning with added neck and back massage, while the S655 offers additional massage motors, head tilt adjustability and under-bed LED nightlights.
While Therapedic was not on-site in Las Vegas, the company was able to safely showcase all of its newest collections via its “virtual showroom.” Through a series of engaging video content, Therapedic gave retailers a detailed look at four line-ups—including the b-calm. This hybrid mattress is made with a quilted fabric cover and graphite latex top layer that are both infused with CBD. The graphite latex layer is heat-resistant, non-absorbent and offers temperature regulation and pressure relief for all night comfort and calming effect. As more consumers look for new ways to relax and unwind during these turbulent times, having a mattress option that incorporates CBD directly into the product is a smart way to engage with them.
Creating An Aesthetic
Whether in-store or online, the look of a product matters now more than ever. For those selling online, you will need to be able to catch someone’s eye through just a small image on a screen. And those images will have to adequately replace the experience of seeing it for real. Considering the aesthetics of the products you sell is equally important to the in-store setting as well. Safety protocols and general anxieties have changed the way people shop in person. Gone are the days of leisurely dawdling through a store, taking your time to explore all the different options. These days, most people are getting in and out as briskly as possible. This gives you a much smaller window to introduce them to something new or unexpected—either you capture their attention right away or they simply move on. And that means stepping up your product styling, staging and POP.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that all products need to be bright and flashy. In fact, sometimes a sleek look or clean lines might be even more appealing for today’s style-conscious shoppers. But no matter what kind of look you go for, the visual element of your offerings needs to be thoughtful and clearly communicated.
While the Kingsdown showroom in Vegas was shuttered this market, the company’s new virtual showroom was wide open for visitors! The robust digital platform allowed retailers the chance to explore all of the company’s products and collections in close detail, in addition to its comprehensive library of marketing and training content.
From the sleek mattress styling to the creative visual assets, Kingsdown equips its partners with unique, eye-catching aesthetics that connect with today’s shoppers. Committed to true collaboration, the company goes above and beyond basic branding support to help retailers design their showroom floors. Kingsdown provides the products, materials and insights retailers need to establish their sleep centers as true places of expertise.
Fashion also met function with BEDGEAR’s latest product introductions. The company recently unveiled a suite of eye-catching introductions, including the S mattress line and the Cosmo and Glacier pillow collections. The stylish cover fabrics give the collections a unique sporty look that is backed by innovative design engineering to enhance airflow and maximize natural temperature regulation.
Demand Is High
People are buying beds right now, there’s no doubt about that. There are a myriad reasons as to why this is the case: people are thinking more about their health; they’ve got extra money to spare because they’re not eating out or going on trips; they’re bored and looking for home improvement projects to do. But no matter the explanation, the fact remains—and with many retail stores back open for business, retail buyers are looking for manufacturing partners that can help them meet that demand.
While this uptick in demand is unquestionably good for the industry, it has created some new obstacles for businesses to work through. Namely, supply chain and freight delays have made it difficult for some companies to keep their retail partners’ inventories stocked. And with ecommerce booming across all product categories, the network of shipping providers is stretched thin. While this may continue to cause problems in the months ahead, the upside is that this is yet another opportunity for the industry to innovate. Creating new solutions and efficiencies now can help safeguard against all kinds of potential disruptions in the future.
And even though some consumers may be buying more, it’s important to remember that there are still plenty of people who are out of work and struggling. In the early days of the pandemic, it was so heartening to see how quickly the bedding industry was able to switch gears to lend a hand, whether it was to make masks or hospital beds or offer donations to those in need. We’re interested to see how this generous spirit will evolve and continue as the needs change. Who really needs a good night’s rest the most right now? Are they able to buy the products and create the environment to do so? Caring for your fellow man will always be an important trend in our book.