Sleep Retailer eNews | August 23, 2018

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What Recent Partnerships And Mergers Might Mean For The Industry

As an industry, traditional mattress manufacturing and retail have been in turmoil for over a year now. With the rise of sleep product start-ups touting technologically sophisticated ways to drive traffic to e-commerce shops and close new digital customers, online bedding brands have had more success than most may have expected. But so many of these highly successful and digitally native brands have turned to retail partners to continue driving growth for their companies (i.e. Leesa and West Elm/Pottery Barn, Casper and Target, Purple and Mattress Firm).  And, with traditional manufacturers developing more robust digital marketing programs for retailers, creating easy-to-use eCommerce sites and continually meeting the need for a more engaging customer experience in brick and mortar stores, it definitely feels as though the start-up business model and more traditional mattress players are beginning to meet in the middle. Taking that premise a step further, a major (traditional) industry player and a newer household name from the direct to consumer market recently decided to combine companies.

While it’s unclear who initiated the deal, Serta Simmons Bedding LLC (SSB), the Atlanta based company that owns and manages the Serta and Beautyrest portfolio of products, and Tuft & Needle (T&N), a direct-to-consumer mattress start-up that’s been around since 2012, recently announced that they are in the process of joining forces. Here are some quick details on the deal:

  • The actual terms of this deal have not been disclosed.
  • The co-founders of Tuft & Needle, J.T. Marino and Daehee Park, will report to Serta Simmons (SSB) CEO, Michael Traub in roles on the SSB leadership team.
  • The overall goal of the merger is for SSB to employ Tuft & Needle techniques to continue developing as an omni-channel and consumer focused company (particularly eCommerce management).
  • SSB brands Beautyrest, Serta and Tomorrow will remain independent of Tuft & Needle.

In this particular situation, both brands stand to gain so much from the other and in combining capabilities will likely become a force to be reckoned with, if they weren’t already. According to SSB CEO Michael Traub, “The merger will change the industry in a significant way. We will be able to serve consumers unmatched both online and in-store.” The merger is being called a merger to specifically indicate that both companies intend to undergo notable transformation together, truly utilizing both their strengths to compensate for each other’s weaknesses and build a hybridized sleep giant. In the case of SSB, Tuft & Needle joining the team will help the traditional brand expand its digital capabilities and SSB will also gain access to the data collected by Tuft & Needle over its years as an independent D2C start-up.

JT Marino, T&N co-founder says, "Under Michael's leadership, SSB is actively driving toward evolution within the company and the greater market. By joining the SSB team, we look forward to fully leveraging each organization's strengths and accelerating our trajectory together towards the vision of being recognized as the global leader in sleep. Tuft & Needle will continue to build our brand and culture in our unique way, while immediately beginning to infuse our learnings and capabilities into the broader SSB organization." T&N on the other hand, gets the capabilities of SSB’s 30+ factories across the country, the brand’s strong name recognition and its manufacturing prowess.

This week also brought news of an exclusive partnership of a different nature, one that didn’t receive quite as much popular attention. Eclipse International, a mattress manufacturer with an extensive licensing network, has entered into an agreement with Talalay Global, a manufacturer of talalay latex mattresses, toppers and pillows – all sold under different brand names. Eclipse will now be the sole producer of Talalay’s line of finished mattresses, Pure Talalay Bliss. This strategic partnership allows Talalay access to Eclipse’s complex network of 65 licensees across 39 countries and allows Eclipse to easily provide a unique, new product to its portfolio making its licensees and end-customers happy.

“Our licensees are very excited to get Bliss into their product portfolio because of the explosive growth in the luxury segment of our business and consumer interest in the health, quality and performance of Talalay products,” said Stuart Carlitz, CEO of Eclipse International. “Because of our extensive experience successfully manufacturing and selling luxury products, this is a brand that our group will be able to really develop and grow domestically and internationally.”

While these two industry stories might not have everything in common, they do signal an interesting phenomenon in the industry right now. As the competition for a slice of the mattress industry pie continues to grow fierce, some brands are teaming up to become stronger, creating strategic alliances to improve their business models and ultimately better serve retailers and consumers. It will be interesting to see if other companies follow suit and if, as Michael Traub says, this major merger will have a significant impact on the rest of the industry and what exactly it will look like.

Read more here, here, here, here, and here.

The Return of QR Codes

QR Code

And How Mattress Retailers Can Make The Most of Them This Time

Remember QR codes? Those square barcodes that, when scanned on a smartphone through a special app, directed you to a microsite or sign-up page? We had almost forgotten about them too. In fact, if you had asked us a year or so ago, we would have told you that QR codes were a thing of the past - a forgone marketing trend that didn’t stand the test of time. But all that changed when Apple decided to update the camera app on the iPhone to include an active QR code reader. This simplified the whole process: no more downloading a specialized scanner app. Now, all iPhone users have to do is simply make like they are going to take a photo of the code - and they will be immediately prompted to the chosen URL. Thanks to this technology upgrade, marketers and consumers alike are once again embracing the QR code. Mattress retailers are poised to capitalize on the return of this technology — just as long as they learn from the mistakes that sunk the trend the first time around.

There was a brief window of time, around 2011 and 2012, when QR codes were all the rage. With the expanding popularity of smartphones, retailers and marketers embraced the tool with aplomb. But the QR code heyday didn’t last long, as consumers soon grew tired of fumbling with special scanner apps that took up valuable space on their phones, only to find the content they directed to was less than valuable. As consumer engagement waned, QR codes quickly fell out of vogue.

But the tides are changing once again, thanks to Apple. Since the tech company introduced its new QR code compatible camera technology, usage is once again on the up and up. According to Juniper Research, nearly 1.3 billion mobile coupons were redeemed via QR codes in 2017—and that number is expected to reach 5.3 billion via more than 1 billion mobile devices by 2022.

Major brands have already jumped back on the bandwagon. At the Digital Signage Expo earlier this year, Porsche integrated QR codes into a unique interactive experience that allowed consumers to customize their very own Porsche Cayenne Turbo. After selecting their customization options, users were provided with a QR code that directed them to a site where they could see and experience their personalized vehicle.

When it comes to the mattress industry, we are starting to see a much more conservative application of the QR code. At the summer Las Vegas Market, Tempur-Pedic incorporated the codes into the top-of-bed POP for its new TempurLUXE Collection. By simply hovering over the code with their iPhone camera, consumers were immediately directed to a microsite that provided them with additional information about the collection’s features and components.

The return of QR codes is good news for mattress sellers. Firstly, they can be a vital resource for RSAs, giving them a quick and easy way to double check product specs or inventory and shipping information. On the consumer-facing side, QR codes are an easy way for stores to deliver more information to shoppers without overwhelming them from the get-go. They also give consumers the opportunity to access more dynamic marketing content—like videos and infographics—without requiring retailers to invest in expensive technology.

This can be especially beneficial when it comes to engaging with consumers who are not receptive to traditional selling strategies. “Some customers would rather interact through technology than through human contact, and vice versa,” Alex Goryachev, Managing Director of Cisco explained to Forbes. “Equip print ads and signage with QR codes that can direct more digitally savvy customers to more information and interactive online content.”

Beyond simply providing valuable product information, QR codes can now also serve as another purchasing option. For retailers offering boxed beds or easy-ship accessories in their stores, the code could direct to an e-commerce microsite. In addition to streamlining the buying process, this is an invaluable opportunity for retailers to recapture sales from consumers who were considering just testing the mattress in-store, then going home to buy it online.

Of course, QR codes can also be used to distribute coupons or promotional offerings that consumers can redeem in-store — a major asset for brick-and-mortar retailers that are struggling with dwindling foot traffic.

While the inclusion of the QR reader in the standard camera app eliminated one major barrier for usage, there are still a number of factors retailers should consider in order to make the most of this technology.

Does your store have free WiFi?
While some consumers may have unlimited data plans these days, many do not. And unfortunately, the promise of product information may not be enough of a draw to prompt them to sacrifice some of their data plans.

What about the people who do not have smartphones?
Even though QR code usage is on the rise, there will still inevitably be some customers who do not want - or cannot - access them on their personal phones. That means the QR code content should either be available in another form, or you have to provide some

Do people know why they should scan the QR code? Since they can be used for many different purposes, it’s important that the signage clearly communicates what kind of content consumers will be accessing. Is it more information about the product? A video about how it was made? Maybe a coupon or promotional offering? 

While it may not be the saving grace of the retail industry, the return of the QR code is providing mattress stores with another valuable tool for engaging consumers.

Read more here, here, here and here.

Can Reading Really Help You Sleep?

+ Plus Our Sleep Oriented Book Recommendations

While numerous types of sleep aids exist, one of the oldest and most well-loved ones in the book is reading. With sleep becoming the new status symbol, people are more desperate than ever to get good quality sleep and while a better mattress, new sheets, a fluffier pillow and other sleep accessories can all improve sleep, a solid nightly routine, including a good book, is another possible solution. But why? What is it about reading that makes us so sleepy?

Surprisingly, there isn’t too much concrete evidence that proves the act of reading causes people to fall asleep. It’s more that reading is an entertaining way to help us accomplish other things that do help us sleep. Here are just a few benefits of reading before bed:

Reading Forces Us To Put Technology Away

Technology usage is a large part of why people have issues sleeping; engaging with a phone or computer late into the night doesn’t allow our brains to shut off. In a 2014 study, it was proven that reading a paper book is much better for readers than reading from an e-reader before bed. Individuals in the study who read by the lurid blue screen of an iPad had a harder time falling asleep and the technology was also proven to delay the release of melatonin. Plus, when looking at a phone or other device, it’s possible to receive an email or stressful text that can wind the mind back up, making it harder to relax.

 Reading Can Become Part Of A Sleep Routine

Developing a consistent sleep routine helps train the body to go to sleep at the appropriate time. We’ve all heard of our circadian rhythm and it’s useful to maintain that rhythm so we are able to wake up and get sleepy at the same times each day. Doing the same things before bed, like taking a shower, taking out contacts, brushing teeth and settling into bed with a book, can all help reinforce and maintain a daily rhythm by giving the body familiar cues that it’s time to get sleepy.

 Reading Forces Us To Focus On Something Besides Trying To Sleep

 Reading a book before bed gets us to slow down and focus on something besides getting sleepy. It helps quiet the mind by giving it another story to engage with (apart from a to-do list, or the potential challenges of the next day). Reading is also a work-out for the brain. According to Ken Pugh, PhD, president and director of research at a lab dedicated to the science of language, "parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision, language, and associative learning—connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging." This challenge can mentally wear an individual out making it easier to feel tired.

 Reading IS Scientifically Proven To Relieve Stress

According to the research of cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. David Lewis, nothing relieves stress quite like getting lost in a great book.  He says, “It really doesn't matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author's imagination.”

 Don’t pick too wild of a book before bed though, if you are anything like us, you might end up losing sleep if you get too sucked into a scintillating story. Here are a few fiction books we recommend (some of which really do revolve around sleep):

Not much of a reader? That’s ok too. Check out the Bob Ross sleep meditation app AND the wildly popular podcast, Sleep With Me, where the host crafts and reads extremely boring stories to help you sleep.

Read more here, here, here, here and here.