The retail landscape is changing. As more online information and purchasing opportunities have grown over the past decade, traditional brick and mortar retailers have had to evolve to stay current. Armed with a wealth of brand and product information along with reviews from fellow shoppers, consumers have a more critical eye when it comes time to make a purchase. This fact not only influences the way consumers are shopping, but the way bedding retailers should be engaging with them.
Known for its unique research studies, Colonial LLC understands quite a bit about consumer shopping habits. Since 1982, the company has been helping their clients raise their brand awareness, elevate the perception of their product value and increase their sales. Colonial recently expanded its expertise with a two-part quantitative and qualitative consumer research study that explored the mattress purchasing process—from pre-sale planning to point-of-sale branding.
In doing so the company confirmed a few key insights about the way people shop for beds today—namely, that knowing how a mattress is constructed is still very important to them. Consumers want to see and know as much as possible. So, given the increasing number of online reviews and e-commerce platforms available to shoppers, is it safe to assume that shoppers already know exactly what they’re going to buy before they even step into a retail store? Or, even, that consumers no longer find it necessary to go into a store at all?
Short answer: no. Even though it’s now possible to research and buy a mattress at the touch of the button, that doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar stores have become obsolete. Far from it, in fact. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, e-commerce accounted for only 8.3% of total retail sales in 2014 and while it’s projected to grow in the coming years, it will still only equal a fraction of dollars spent at in-store.
While online research helps supply consumers with the key product details they’re seeking, it can never convey how a mattress will feel more accurately than laying down on it can. So while most consumers come into a retail store with an educated idea of what sort of product they’re looking for, the decision about which mattress to purchase is ultimately made through rest-testing—and in-store branding and displays are the most important factors in driving a consumer to try certain mattresses over others.
Colonial’s most recent qualitative study was designed to replicate a retail store environment—with 20 identical mattresses dressed with 20 different Top of Bed Displays—in order to provide key insights on branding and visibility impact, fabric and styling preferences, product and spec card usage and pricing strategy. By working with professional third-party research associates and qualified study participants, Colonial can offer retailers the most successful in-store marketing practices that are backed by verifiable statistics.