With every passing month, the bed-in-a-box craze seems to be growing more ubiquitous. These new boxed offerings require manufacturers and retailers to rethink a number of different aspects of the full sales process: from product technology to digital marketing channels to delivery options and price points. But will this disruption have a lasting effect on the bedding industry as a whole? We turned to executives from three leading mattress brands to get their take on the subject.
What do you think about the bed-in-a-box trend—and how do you see it evolving?
In the past, mattresses had largely been commodities. Consumers at a traditional mattress store seldom sought out specific brands. Naturepedic, as an example of the new playing field, is not a commodity mattress. People seek out Naturepedic mattresses by name for what our brand represents. The leading bed-in-a-boxers also understand this and have worked to make their name stand out. The brands that represent a well-defined message will prosper, while commodity brands will not do as well. The idea of “one-size-fits-all” may be fine for part of the market, but that only goes so far. Retailers who focus on individual customization will do better than others. For example, the Naturepedic EOS is a customizable mattress with a zippered design that allows you to individualize each side of the bed for each partner. Naturepedic even guarantees a 90-day free component swap to make sure the feel is perfect. From that perspective, the bed-in-box trend, which does not permit customization, could actually provide an opportunity to brick-and-mortar retailers to demonstrate their value. Bed-in-a-box brands will never become a majority of sales. Instead, the best avenue for brand success is a combination of brand-sponsored Internet marketing together with the local marketing of the individual stores.—BARRY CIK, Founder and Technical Director of Naturepedic
I see it continuing. Millennials and other Internet shoppers see this as a quick and easy solution to filling an immediate need. The comfort-return policy provides an easy way to try the bed out without having to enter a store and commit. The mattress industry has a bad reputation with regard to the mattress shopping experience. The industry will have to re-educate the consumer on the health benefits of premium bedding and do a better job explaining the difference. There is a ceiling to the bed-in-a-box quality, however it has not quite been reached by today’s popular players. So you will see some higher end products; pocketed coil and higher density foams can enhance these products. The premium and ultra premium beds don’t come compressed and rolled up in a box and land on your doorstep. These beds still need to be packaged with care and delivered by professional two-person teams. The Internet mattress model however is here to stay and manufactures will find this alternative method of sale will increase substantially year after year. The brick and mortar retailers must enhance and support their businesses with the internet, or they will become obsolete. I believe the future holds a consolidation of brick and mortar in most retail categories and greater concentration on internet marketing.—STUART CARLITZ, President and CEO of Bedding Industries of America
The bed-in-a-box is such an exciting category and everyone is jumping on it, but I do believe it’s a small niche and will remain such. I think the bed-in-a-box segment will always be here, but I don’t think it will see much growth. Instead, I expect to see flat to slight growth. Our plan at Gold Bond is to focus on the higher end of the market by bringing in great components like Leggett & Platt’s Bolsa Spring and higher-end latex so that we avoid the down-and-dirty segment of the business that seems to be on a race for the bottom. The implementation of new components and new technology will allow smart players to jump into the category at a higher price point. That’s where I see growth for the bed-in-a-box segment—at price points over the $999 mark. The future is there, but only if we as an industry are able to develop the product so that it offers more than just foam mattress. Manufacturers need to be more innovative and creative. That’s why we’re investing in the technology of the Bolsa Spring and latex as options for the category. From our standpoint, our bed-in-a-box program, is having great success with our brick and mortar retail partners.—ROBERT NABOICHECK, President of Gold Bond Mattress