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Purple Heads To Brick-And-Mortar Stores With New Mattress Firm Partnership
Purple is the latest online mattress brand to embrace the traditional retail market. The company recently struck a distribution deal with Mattress Firm, launching a pilot program in 13 store locations in Washington, DC. While Purple is not the first bed-in-a-box company to team up with a brick-and-mortar retailer, it is the first to partner with a traditional mattress store chain (while other online competitors like Casper and Tuft & Needle have opted for major furniture and big box chains like Target and West Elm). For other online brands’ looking to expand into the physical retail distribution, this new pilot program will potentially help inform their decisions as to what kinds of stores to stock their products.
Purple selected the nation’s capitol as the location for this pilot program for “market research purposes,” according to the brand. Depending on how these initial placements fare, the company has more roll-outs planned for Mattress Firm locations in Austin, Texas and Sacramento, California. The retailer will sell Purple’s latest mattress offerings, which combine pocketed coils with a new pressure-relieving Hyper-Elastic Polymer technology.
As part of a new blended channel strategy, these in-store Mattress Firm placements will join Purple’s existing online direct-to-consumer distribution model. As the online mattress market continues to become increasingly saturated, we expect more digital start-ups to adopt this selling strategy. By supplementing their online efforts with brick-and-mortar partnerships, these brands have an opportunity to expand their customer reach and increase their brand awareness beyond the world of online shoppers. But it remains to be seen whether or not these partnerships are equally as beneficial for the retailer as well.
What The Mattress Industry Can Learn From Black Friday
While mattresses have not traditionally been seen as a go-to holiday purchase, a growing number of online brands and e-retailers offered Black Friday and Cyber Monday mattress deals this year. More than just another opportunity for retailers to promote discounted pricing, this Thanksgiving sales weekend supplied us with useful data on today’s consumer shopping habits and expectations. Understanding how shoppers engaged with Black Friday and Cyber Monday can reveal key insights for the mattress retail market - an industry that has long relied on holiday weekend sales events.
According to ShopperTrak, this year’s Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday store visits declined by 1.6% when compared to last year. But despite the dip in traffic, those visits yielded more purchases than 2016 - with store conversion rates estimated to be in the positive low- single digits or higher. While an increase in conversion rates is a good sign for retailers - it doesn’t necessarily offer a comprehensive picture of the total sales numbers. That is because the allure of this holiday shopping weekend is the prospect of getting more for less. According to the National Retail Federation, 60% of holiday shoppers reported that discounts were the primary driver of the majority of their purchases. For some analysts, this focus on deals is a worrisome sign for retailers as it can lead to a so-called “discount spiral.”
“While the retail industry has banked on aggressive discounts weeks before Black Friday and Cyber Monday to boost consumer spending, they need to make sure that this does not sacrifice margins in the long run,” Katie Smith, retail analysis and insights director at EDITED, told Forbes. “There has been a shift in the value consumers place on products…In part that’s a reaction to the discounting epidemic of the last few years, but there have also been fundamental shifts in society which are in the process of realigning the role possessions play in our lives.”
It won’t be news to retailers that today’s consumers are prioritizing experiences over things - but more than that, retail trends have encouraged them to spend less for the things that they do buy. For many product segments, customers simply refuse to pay full price because they know they don’t have to. Why pay more when they can just wait until the next sale rolls around? Technology has made it easier than ever before for consumers to comparison shop, zeroing in on where and when to find the best deals and lowest prices. While eye-popping sales events can be an opportunity to drive traffic to your store, the need to have the lowest price can be detrimental to the overall bottom line — especially for smaller retailers. But more than that, an endless sale cycle can erode the perceived value of the product.
Despite being relatively new to the Thanksgiving Weekend discount extravaganza, the mattress industry is no stranger to a holiday sale. In fact, the market has long been centered around offering steep discounts on holiday weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day. This sale schedule has ultimately reinforced the “race to the bottom” strategy. The problem arises when the retailer needs sale pricing in order to move products - the products themselves are not enough of a motivator.
But the data from this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday revealed more than just bad news. In fact, there were a number of successful non-discount strategies that retailers can start incorporating into their own stores. According to Adobe Digital Insights, small retailers (those with $10 million or less in sales) that optimized mobile shopping saw their site visits converting at two times the rate of big retailers (those with $100 million or more in sales). Mobile purchases generated nearly 50% of all website visits and totaled more than 33% of online revenue - a new record. For retailers looking to boost their bottom line in 2018, it’s clear that mobile technology should be a main focus moving forward. Rather than relying on regular blow-out sales, it’s time for bedding retailers to start the difficult task of improving the perceived value of a mattress - and find new ways to support consumers’ changing shopping habits.
Tips For Building A Successful Content Marketing Strategy
Digital marketing is a crucial part of any marketing mix. In today’s cluttered web space, it’s increasingly difficult for businesses to cut through the noise and reach their intended audience via display advertising alone. What prospective buyers want is to interact with or gain information from brands before they invest in them. Content marketing is a valuable opportunity to demonstrate your brand’s character and value to your customers before they ever enter a store.
Content marketing is shared content (images, videos, blog articles, social media and even podcasts) that stimulates interest in a product or service but does not directly promote a brand. This form of engagement builds awareness of your store and what it offers consumers by providing useful information or memorable entertainment.
In the mattress and bedding sector, online brands are leading the way when it comes to content marketing. Since their main and often only access point to consumers is through the web, they’ve built their brands on online content and promotion. Mattress start-up Casper has just about tried it all when it comes to content - and they’ve had fun with it too. Retailers can gain valuable expertise by studying the brand’s content marketing strategy.
Over the past few years, Casper has run several online publications including Pillow Talk, Van Winkles (which shut down earlier this month) and recently launched a new print publication called Woolly. Additionally, the company has gotten creative with Instagram and Snapchat, meeting young consumers where they live – on their phones.
Some traditional manufacturers have also recognized that their retail partners have a need for digital content and are working to support those efforts. For example, Restonic shares strong blog content, while King Koil provides retailers with strong SEO and SEM content to post on their sites. These are only a few examples from the growing list of manufacturers considering content marketing and digital strategy as they support their retail partners.
A strong retail content marketing example, Mattress Firm runs The Daily Doze and maintains a consistent social media presence. However, you don’t have to be a large chain store to successfully develop online content strategy. Below are a few keys to keep in mind as you start to carve out a space for your retail location on the web:
- Develop a Voice and Use it to Stand Out – Effective brands have specific personas and aesthetic themes that reflect the values of the company. They keep their intended audience in mind when developing their voice and use content to clearly express it. Content can and should be funny, interesting or informative.
- Push Out a Consistent Amount of Content –Effective content comes in a variety of media formats (image, video, audio, written, etc.) and is released consistently and across more than one platform so consumers can interact with a brand multiple times.
- Consider Mobile – Keep in mind that many of your readers and followers will be experiencing your content on a mobile device.
- Be the Consumer – Keep your eyes open, absorb tactics other brands use online that pique your interest as a consumer then add them to your repertoire.
The Importance Of Dreaming
As you’ve probably read, we’re in the midst of a sleep deprivation epidemic. Experts around the globe are warning us that getting less than seven hours a night is increasingly linked to multiple health issues like Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, depression, obesity and stroke. But it turns out that we are also in the midst of of a dream deprivation epidemic. Unsurprisingly, the lack of sleep goes hand in hand with our growing lack of dreaming. While research is clear about what happens when we don’t get enough sleep, much of why we sleep and dream is still a mystery. But it is becoming more clear that dreaming is crucial to our overall wellbeing.
Throughout the night, we experience several different stages of sleep: three stages of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep that includes two stages of light sleep (N1 and N2) and deep slow-wave sleep (N3); and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. We cycle through each stage multiple times through the night (including some brief waking periods that you likely don’t even remember). In light sleep (N1), there’s still some consciousness at play – this is when you might nod off for a moment while your brain continues processing what’s going on around you. N2 is when your body temperature drops and you begin to more fully disengage from your surroundings. When you enter N3, deep slow-wave sleep, your body gets its deepest rest. It’s difficult to wake from this stage and if you do, you’re likely to be groggy. Lastly, there is REM sleep, the stage in which you do your dreaming: your heart rate increases, your breathing and pulse quickens and of course, as the name implies, your eyes move rapidly beneath your closed lids.
While all stages are important, both REM sleep and deep slow-wave sleep are crucial. When in N3 sleep, your blood pressure drops, your breathing slows and your body does self-maintenance, repairing and growing tissue as well as releasing various hormones. Slow-wave sleep is thought to be involved with memory consolidation and studies have shown that listening to a specific frequency of noise during this stage helps with memory retention.
REM sleep, on the other hand, is a far more active sleep, occurring approximately every 90 minutes, making up about 25% of your sleep cycle. In this stage, your body goes from being deeply relaxed from N3 stage sleep to being completely unresponsive and paralyzed in REM sleep. But your brain is very busy with housekeeping, organizing information that it has encountered throughout the day. And of course, a major component of REM sleep is dreaming. While it’s still not clear how or why dreaming really occurs, some scientists are increasingly emphatic about its importance.
One such scientist, Rubin Naiman of the Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona, recently published a review in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences regarding what he asserts is a growing epidemic of not just sleep loss, but dream loss. According to Naiman’s paper, the physical consequences of REM sleep loss are similar to those effects of more generalized sleep loss: increased inflammatory responses, obesity and memory problems. However, Naiman also emphasizes that “many of our health concerns attributed to sleep loss actually result from REM sleep deprivation." The mental processes that occur during REM sleep point towards a relationship with emotional health and the various ways the brain interprets daytime information. Many scientists speculate that dreams are a way for the brain to sift through its experiences, deciding which memories to keep and which to toss away. When sleep is at a premium, the body prioritizes NREM sleep over REM, thus preventing the brain from its nighttime activity and eliminating the dream stage. Researchers have actually run experiments where subjects are deprived only of REM sleep, finding that most of the negative side effects mirror those of total sleep deprivation.
Naiman cautions those who rely on medications or recreational drugs to assist them in getting sleep. Both alcohol and cannabis have been shown to significantly disrupt REM sleep, and sleeping pills generally increase lighter sleep at the expense of deeper, more restorative sleep. He also recommends abandoning one’s dependence on alarm clocks as they abruptly cut into the dream narrative, jarring the brain back into reality.
So what’s a person to do to get their dreams back? Since increasing your total good sleep quantity is your best shot at increasing your REM sleep, Naiman advocates good sleep hygiene: a dark, cool room; a period of winding down prior to actual sleep with meditation or yoga; decreasing exposure to nighttime light; and – perhaps most importantly – making a conscious decision to prioritize sleep over all the little distractions that come with modern life. This intentional attitude adjustment is just as important as physically changing your routine, if not even more so. Naiman contends that, “This is the first step, and it's a critical attitudinal shift. Because we can do all of the right things, but if our heart is not in the right place around sleep, it really won't help as much." So tonight, try turning off the lights early, do some focused breathing and allow yourself to fall back in love with sleep – with enough time and practice, you’ll be having sweet dreams again.
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