Sleep Retailer eNews | February 8, 2018

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Sleep Retailer's "2018 Winter Market Trends" Is Now Online

It’s been a long time since we’ve hit a traffic jam on one of the bedding floors of the World Market Center - but that was exactly how it felt walking around the Winter Las Vegas Market this time around. The hallways were packed with people, the showrooms consistently bustling with scheduled appointments and drop-ins alike. Overall, the sentiment felt uniquely different than any other market in recent years: it felt confident about the future.

While recent markets have been characterized by cautious product updates and one-off introductions, this winter saw a number of truly expansive introductions — with companies like Tempur-Pedic, Sealy, Beautyrest and Restonic all unveiling major collection roll-outs — and bold new showroom renovations. All in all, the industry appears ready and willing to invest in new efforts once again. Some companies attributed this outlook to the strong economy, while others simply cited catching up with the learning curve of a changing marketplace. But no matter the rationale, it was clear that a serious shift has taken place in the bedding industry.

Read more.

How Do Consumers Really Feel About Brands Getting Political?

Millennial Woman Shopper

In today’s world, it’s more and more common for public figures to join the conversation when it comes to social and political issues. While it seems like an of-the-moment trend, participation in moral and political conversations is not so new in the world of branding. Brands have been navigating the social climate and leveraging their involvement in it for years. Thanks to a new study from Sprout Social, we now have a better sense for how consumers receive brand engagement with political issues and what sorts of issues consumers deem appropriate for brands to speak up about.

This new study indicates that the majority of consumers (66%) want brands to take a firmer stance on political issues, but it’s also a bit more complex than that. The same study also indicates that in order for customers to react positively to a brand’s political stance, it typically needs to align with their own personal beliefs. If a consumer agrees with the stance, 28% will publicly praise the brand and 44% will buy more from the brand. However, if a consumer disagrees, 20% will publicly criticize the brand and 53% will avoid buying from the brand. It’s a slippery slope.

The study goes on to differentiate between parties and types of issues. While the majority of liberal consumers (nearly 80%) want brands to take a stand, conservative consumers are a bit more reserved on the issue, for them the number is a bit lower at 52%. According to the study, conservatives are more skeptical of the authenticity of a branded stance and both parties claimed to trust brand messages more when they dealt with issues that impacted their own customers, employees and business operations. The study also dives deeper into the types of issues consumers think brands should tackle, reporting that consumers believe it’s relevant for retail brands to take stances on human rights (58%), labor laws (55%), poverty and gender equality (48%) and education and the environment (both 45%).

The bottom line: consumers want to connect with brands on a more personal level and gain a deeper understanding of their character before they support them. Brands might be hesitant to chime in on hot button issues, but there might be another way. This year has seen the launch of a number of successful corporate responsibility campaigns in the sleep industry – as highlighted in our special feature, “The Bedding Industry Gives Back.” What makes them successful is that the brands giving back this year tended to champion causes they believe in. As a result, consumers get a better sense for each company’s unique character and what matters to them.

To successfully take any sort of moral stance, brands must approach their initiative with positivity and choose to speak out on relevant topics that are consistent with the company’s previously expressed culture. Apart from corporate caring campaigns and political statements, consumers are able to access more information on how brands handle themselves on an operational level and are interested in how large companies treat their employees and contribute to their communities.

Walking the walk is just as important as talking the talk. While taking a strong political stance with a formal statement is trending right now and is absolutely a meaningful way to engage consumers, brands can make statements in subtler ways through the everyday choices they make. Ultimately, retailers and manufacturers alike who do good everywhere they can, internally and through corporate giving campaigns or public stances, are more likely to succeed long term because consumers are paying attention. But when a stance of any kind is not authentic, consumers quickly see through it. The safest bet for the retailers and manufacturers of the future is to continue being good and doing good and finding opportunities to communicate their character in creative ways.

Read more here, here, here and here.

Sleep Talkers Reveal Their Meaner Sides

Man Sleeping

There is a commonly held misbelief that if you ask a sleep talker a deep, personal question you will likely get an honest answer. Unfortunately, this slumber-based interrogation method doesn’t work. While there’s still so much unknown about the brain-sleep relationship, there is new information from a recent French study that gives us a little more insight into those that talk in their sleep and what they’re saying.

Known scientifically as somniloquy, sleep talking is a common phenomenon, especially among children and men. According to The National Sleep Foundation, somniloquy is classified as a sleep disorder, often triggered by anxiety and stress, and is usually not indicative of a serious problem. However, those that do talk in their sleep may worry about what’s coming out of their mouths. And, as discovered by Dr. Isabelle Arnulf, a researcher at the European Sleep Research Laboratories in Paris, there’s good reason for this worry.

Arnulf and her team conducted a ground-breaking study on a “sleep-diverse” group of 232 adults, ranging in age from 20 to 49. The researchers focused on the language of the brain at rest, recording not only how often sleep talking occurred, but what was being said. It turns out that we are more likely than not to be rather mean or negative in our sleep. During the two-night experiment, scientists recorded 883 speech episodes among the participants, including 3,349 decipherable words with the most common being “no.”

Perhaps even more interesting is that nearly 10 percent of the utterings contained vulgarities, with abusive language targeting another person happening more frequently in REM sleep while swearing predominantly occurred in non-REM sleep, with the “F-bomb” reportedly appearing 800 times more in sleep than during wakefulness. Arnulf theorized that the increase in profanity and verbal abuse is reflective of the frequency of negative dreams. In an interview with Medical News Today, she elaborated: “"[S]leep talkers may face situations in dream[s] in which anybody would swear, had they happened awake — e.g., [the] need to escape a danger, and shouting, or [the] need to counter-fight, and insulting the aggressor."

On the flip side, sleep talkers tend to exhibit pretty decent grammar. Not only is sentence structure often correct, but sleep talkers pause in their conversations, allowing their unseen partners to respond. So while they might be belligerent, at least they’re considerate.

What’s the takeaway here? If you talk in your sleep, you can rest easy that you’re not professing deep, embarrassing secrets while asleep. You may, however, want to caution any sleep partners about the potential for your foul-mouthed sleep-brain to lash out with some surprising expletives.

Next up for Arnulf and her team is to delve deeper into the connection between frontal and temporal areas of the brain, looking at what she calls “co-sleep gestures.” These are the physical movements that correspond with sleep talkers’ speech. And if what’s being said is any indication, there might be a good argument for separate sleeping spaces.

Read more here, here, here and here.

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