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March 2010

The cover story

‘Green-tailing’ makes sense... and dollars RETAIL ROAD TRIP

Rooms To Go shows how recycling pays off big in the bottom line MARKET SCENE

Mood upbeat at Vegas Market, new products, strong values abound BE MY GUEST

Overzealous selling drives customers away


IN THIS ISSUE where to find it

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THE COVER STORY

retailers moving into culture of sustainability “Greentailing” is where environmental responsibility meets ROI. Taking steps to be more eco-friendly isn’t just good for the earth, it’s good for business. Find out how your store can go green, save money and score points with consumers.

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WAKE UP CALL from the editor’s desk

Consumer trust will continue to be an issue as we climb out of the recession. Authenticity must replace a “smoke and mirrors” approach.

SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use

Prairie Home Companion sings the praises of mattresses; retailers are putting the priority on customer service for 2010; poll suggests your bed could be making you sick; mattress sales rose sharply in November and December; how to get ready for a training meeting; tips on effective tweeting... and more.

CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer

New survey shows consumers are seeking green products and green stores—without the “greenwash.”

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

27 29 36

BE MY GUEST by Vickie Kunkel

Perky salespeople set off alarms in our primordial programming—which may explain why customers are fleeing from your store.

MARKET SCENE seen & heard in Vegas

An upbeat mood, a host of new sleep products and plenty of value at every price point greeted visitors to February’s Las Vegas Market.

CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris Great companies know how to deliver ‘wow’— Zappos is a wonderful example of how it’s done.

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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene At Top 100 retailer Rooms To Go, being green is a corporate culture—one that more than pays for itself.

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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SleepSavvy The magazine for sleep products professionals

Editor in Chief Nancy Butler 828-299-7420 nbutler@sleepproducts.org Senior Writer Barbara Nelles 336-856-8973 bnelles@sleepproducts.org Contributors Gerry Morris Vicki Kunkel Creative Director Stephanie Belcher The Jimmydog Design Group stephanie@jimmydog.com Vice President of Sales Kerri Bellias 336-945-0265 kbellias@sleepproducts.org Advertising Services Manager Debbie Robbins 336-342-4217 drobbins@sleepproducts.org Circulation Manager Mary Rulli 336-491-0443 mrulli@sleepproducts.org Copy Editor Margaret Talley-Seijn Vol. 9, No. 2 ISSN 1538-702X Sleep Savvy is published 8 times a year by the International Sleep Products Association, 501 Wythe St., Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1917. Phone 703-683-8371. Fax 703-683-4503. Website: www.sleepsavvymagazine.com. Sleep Savvy editorial office: 15 E. Hawthorne Dr., Asheville, North Carolina 28805. Phone 828-299-7420. Fax 828-299-7490. Advertising services: 126 Parkview Lane, Reidsville, North Carolina 27320. Phone 336-342-4217. Fax 336-342-4116. Subscription policy & rates Retailers: All U.S. retailers qualify for free subscriptions, up to 5 per location. In Canada, $10 per year; all other countries, $30. Manufacturers, suppliers and others: Personnel at ISPA member companies qualify for complimentary subscriptions, subject to restrictions. Non-members and all others: $30 U.S., $40 non-U.S. Please send subscription orders and changes to: Sleep Savvy, P.O. Box 4678, Archdale, North Carolina 27263 or fax 336-431-0317. ©2010 by the International Sleep Products Association. No portion of the content may be reprinted without permission from Sleep Savvy. Printed in the U.S.A.

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WAKE UP CALL from the editor

Authenticity is a must if you want consumers’ trust

C

onsumer trust has been tested over the course of this deep recession and trust will continue to be an issue as we climb slowly out and start making new decisions about where we want to spend our money and our time. More than ever, those decisions will be based on who and what we believe we can trust to serve our best interests and our families’ best interests. The buzzword today is “transparency.” But “authenticity” goes beyond mere disclosure of the facts. In times of uncertainty, people crave experiences that reflect who they are without artificiality or duplicity. In art, authenticity is being faithful to the artist’s self, not caving in to what others value. Authenticity is being true to our own inner character in what we do, what we say and how we live. In arenas where closing a sale is the name of the game, satisfying the customer’s need for authenticity means that the products we sell and the stories we tell must ring true. Making unfounded claims or bogus offers, being vague or evasive, exaggerating the merits of our offerings or denigrating those of the competition in order to make a sale will increasingly be reasons for shoppers to go elsewhere. So, what brought on this rant? In part, it’s this issue’s focus on green and the confusion surrounding what that means. “Greenwashing” is about actively contributing to that confusion in order to exploit consumers’ desire to connect with the authentic characteristics of things that are “natural.” And it’s all too easy to engage in, especially since it’s often hard to prove. But “green” is just the newest of

the tools that can be misused to create a selling environment that relies too much on smoke and mirrors. I was reminded of what that looks like to an “outsider” while working with a customer experience consultant who wanted to get up to speed in the mattress business. He spent a couple of days undercover shopping and a couple more interviewing industry executives I’d recommended. The picture he reflected back to me wasn’t a pretty one: A confused, intimidated, aggravated customer. An overbearing, under-informed and suspiciously smooth RSA. A baffling product selection that can’t be compared to another store’s equally baffling product selection...etc., etc., etc. But what was most intriguing to him was how deeply entrenched this scenario seems to be—as if all of this confusion is, in fact, indispensible to the mattress selling process. He didn’t buy that. And neither do I. Don’t tell me that a product that is so fundamental to every person’s comfort, health and well-being can’t be sold with authenticity—transparency, integrity, honesty and sincerity. It can. And in today’s society, where trust is a must, this industry’s continued growth and success will depend on it. What’s your opinion? Let me know.

nbutler@sleepproducts.org SleepSavvy • March 2010

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SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use

Prairie Home Companion’s Keillor sings mattress praises

While doing his weekly live radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, on January 23 in Rochester, MN, host Garrison Keillor joined jazz singer Inga Swearingen for a song about getting a better night’s sleep. Keillor offered a few facts about the impact of sleep deprivation on our lives, then launched into a musical version of sleep tips courtesy of the Mayo Clinic, which is located in Rochester. Here’s a sampling: 1. Don’t use sleep aids unless absolutely necessary. 2. Set a regular sleep and wake schedule. 3. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool. 4. Get a comfortable mattress, and don’t sleep with any children or pets. 5. Have a relaxing ritual for retiring, like reading or sex. It was at that point that Keillor got distracted by the word “sex” and the song ended on a ribald note. You can hear the Jan. 23 show by visiting http://prairiehome.publicradio.org.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

— Maya Angelou

Human bed-warming service launched in UK

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eave it to the Brits to come up with a way to stay warm on those cold lonely nights away from home. In late January, three Holiday Inns in the UK offered travelers a free five-minute “human bed-warming service.” Upon request, a willing member of hotel staff—or two—would jump into your bed, dressed head to foot in a special sleeper suit, to warm things up for a cozier snooze. “Like having a giant hot water bottle in your bed” is how Holiday Inn spokeswoman Jane Bednall described it. “There’s plenty of scientific evidence to show that sleep starts at the beginning of the night when body temperature starts to drop,” noted Dr. Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre. “A warm bed is a good way to start this process whereas a cold bed would inhibit sleep.” Sounds to Sleep Savvy like the makings of a fun special event for some enterprising mattress retailer.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

TRAINING TALK

Are you ready for that training meeting? By Michael Wright

S

tore managers don’t always realize the power they have to create a successful training environment. After scheduling a training session, they often leave the heavy lifting to the trainer. By doing this, managers miss an opportunity to be proactive participants. Here are some tips for maximizing a training session’s effectiveness: Create a solid foundation by laying out clear expectations for the trainer and the retail sales associates.  Ask yourself, “Why does my team need training?” A good trainer will appreciate being challenged by your specific needs. Let staff know the attendance expectations. Too often, the people who really need the training are the people who do not attend. When announcing the meeting, give associates reasons to show up. Share with them why they are meeting and how it will financially benefit them and the company. Prior to the meeting, have a brief conversation with the trainer about the training format. Review the expectations and update the trainer on anything new you would like discussed. Before the training gets underway, be sure to report on the previous sales of the products being discussed. After the training, be sure the sales expectations for everybody are relayed. Highlighting a few successful employees can dem-

onstrate that success is attainable. Managers should always stay with the group and participate in the entire meeting. Nothing more quickly tells employees that this is not important than a manager stepping away to do paperwork or pick up a cell phone. Don’t forget to thank trainers for their time, as well as for any food and handouts they brought. After some time has passed, analyze sales data to determine if the training was successful. Relay sales information and employee feedback to the trainer. Consider scheduling another meeting three to six months out so sales don’t drop off. Stores managers who reach out to trainers at every step of the process will find trainers gravitating toward their stores regularly—and helping to improve store sales. Michael Wright has been training in the furniture industry for more than a decade, first with Guardsman and currently with Leggett & Platt. His education and background in psychology enable him to help retailers understand the importance of buying behaviors and adult learning on a sales floor. Before becoming a trainer, Michael spent five years coordinating a program that uses outdoor elements such as rafting and ropes courses to foster team building and leadership.

Could your bed be making you sick?

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outhern California retailer Sit ‘n Sleep partnered with Harris Interactive on a recent online poll revealing that the health of Americans is closely linked to their sleep and mattress. Here are some highlights: ● Well over half of adults (58%) often feel sick or not rested when they sleep on an old or uncomfortable mattress. ● Women more closely link their health to the cozy comforts of their bed, with 64% of women agreeing that they often feel sick or not rested when they sleep on an old or uncomfortable mattress, compared

6 SleepSavvy • March 2010

to 52% of men. ● Nearly 70% of women age 18-34 said they become mean or unfriendly without a good night’s sleep. ● Older men were less likely than younger men to become mean or unfriendly due to a restless night— 26% vs. 52%. ● People with larger households (more than five people) were the most likely to say they felt sick or not rested if they slept on an old mattress (69%) and were most likely to become mean or unfriendly when they didn’t get a good night’s sleep (62%). “Studies have linked the importance

of sleep to overall health, and now we can illuminate how the comfort of a person’s mattress is specifically impacting one’s well-being,” says Larry Miller, Sit ‘n Sleep president and CEO. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

btw:

twitter tune-up Test driving Twitter? You can stay within the 140-character limit with these 12 commonly used Twitter acronyms: b/c – Because BFN – Bye for now BR – Best regards FTF – Face to face IMHO – In my honest opinion IMX – In my experience IRL – In real life LMK - Let me know OH – Overheard (commonly used at conferences or while traveling) PRT – Please retweet TMB – Tweet me back YW – You’re welcome Dan Zarrella, author of The Social Media Marketing Book, offers these tips for making your tweets more “retweetable”: ● Include a hyperlink and a call to action—even the obvious PRT, “please retweet”—in your posts. ● Create newspaper headline-style posts with lots of nouns. ● Tweet about breaking news.

Create a customer advisory group

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ender marketing specialist Andrea Learned suggests that gathering a customer group may be a good way to stay in touch with what resonates with your primary targets. “Women in casual conversations have the power to help companies solve brand challenges, design more intuitive and relevant products, and create advertising messages that resonate—with humor and common sense that fit your trademark brand,” Learned says. “Building a customer advisory board, formally or informally, in-person or online, is something you can begin to do right now. Whether you are in retail and can name your 10 most frequent female customers off the top of your head or are nonretail but have an extensive archive of customer comments to pull from, I urge you to get their help. Learn from them and use their own words in your marketing efforts.” Sleep Savvy recommends Learned’s book, Don’t Think Pink— which includes insight on marketing to women without alienating women or men—as essential reading. For more information, visit www.learnedonwomen.com.

What’s your strategy for success in 2010? When the National Retail Federation asked retailers that question in an online poll, here’s how they responded:

The emphasis will be on customer service and experience

50.86%

We will play up our “value” messaging and offer promotions We will cut operational costs and overhead as much as possible We will focus on reducing loss & fraud The plan is to incorporate more social media into our marketing

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

24.14% 11.21% 7.76% 6.03%

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

New Census to show shift away from ‘average American’

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he 2010 Census is expected to find that 309 million people live in the U.S. But there will be fewer of what we tend to think of as the average American, according to demographics expert Peter Francese. “The average American has been replaced by a complex, multidimensional society that defies simplistic labeling,” Francese says in 2010 America. “This census will show that no household type neatly describes even one-third of households. The iconic American family—married couple with children—will account for a mere 22% of households.” Francese projects that the most common type of household in the U.S. will be the married couple with no kids, followed closely by single-person households. The Census Bureau will start releasing data in spring 2011.

Perception is everything “Customer perception is the only reality,” according to veteran marketing guru Tom Peters. Understanding the rules of perception is fundamental to customer service excellence, he says. In essence, the rules are these: 1. Perception is never neutral. 2. Perception is the sum of lots of little things. 3. Bad news counts against you 10 times more than good news counts for you. How do consumers perceive your store? Your products? Your people? Your services? Finding out could make a big difference in your ability to survive and thrive in a tough marketplace.

BEDDING BIZ BEAT Mattress and foundation sales in the final two months of 2009 offered a dramatic contrast to the same months in 2008, according to reports from the International Sleep Products Association’s sample of producers. Both dollars (wholesale) and units were up by 11% in November. In December, dollars were up 8%, while units rose 9.7%. For the year 2009 as a whole, this group experienced a 9% decline in dollar sales and 6.6% decline in unit sales.

Mattresses & Foundations - Millions of Dollars (wholesale) Sample of Leading Producers

$339

$339 $305

$294

$297

$290 $249

$264 $222

$247

$241

$260

Percent change -10.1%

Percent change

Percent change

Percent change

Percent change

Percent change

-13.4%

-2.3%

+5.9%

+11.1%

+8.0%

July

August

September

October

November

December

Source: ISPA monthly Bedding Barometer, a sample of leading U.S. mattress producers

8 SleepSavvy • March 2010

■ 2008 ■ 2009 www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


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SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

There’s no ‘catching up’ on lost sleep

Centers, teenagers who averaged just five hours of sleep a night showed a 71% increase in depression and a 48% increase in suicidal thinking. Teenagers who turned in before 10:00 p.m. were 24% less likely to become depressed and 20% less likely to engage in suicidal thinking. The average sleep of the teenagers participating in the survey was seven hours and 53 minutes. Sleep experts recommend that teenagers should average nine hours of sleep a night. The study was published in the Jan. 1 edition of the journal Sleep.

Sleep Shorts

A few extra hours of sleep on the weekend isn’t enough to overcome the long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation, according to new research at Harvard Medical School. According to the study, even if you put in an extra 10 hours of sack time to compensate for sleeping only 6 hours a night for up to two weeks, your reaction time and ability to focus are worse than if you had pulled an all-nighter. This is particularly bad news for shift workers such as doctors and law enforcement officers—people we all depend on to get it right. According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are things shift workers can do to get quality sleep during their off hours, such as wearing dark glasses to block out the sunlight on their way home, keeping the same bedtime and wake time schedule, even on weekends, and eliminating noise and light from the sleep environment. Sleeping on a comfortable, high-quality mattress is also a good idea. But, the bottom line is that there is no real way to recoup lost sleep.

Less sleep linked to depression Recent research has revealed a significant link between depression and going to sleep after midnight among teenagers. In studies conducted by Columbia University Medical

Counting sheep may be overrated Does counting sheep really help people fall asleep? Scientists at Oxford University put it to the test. In their study, published in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy, two sleep researchers monitored insomniacs as they tried different techniques for nodding off on various nights. Interestingly, subjects who were told to count sheep or given no instructions at all took slightly longer to fall asleep. But when told to imagine a relaxing scene—a beach, for example—they fell asleep an average of 20 minutes sooner. Counting sheep, the researchers suggested, may just be too boring to do for very long, so the mind wanders. But images of a tranquil environment are engaging enough to keep sleepers focused long enough to drift off.

Cows need a good night’s sleep, too

I

t might not be a line you’d want on your floor, but Sleep Savvy applauds the creativity and resourcefulness shown by Champagne Edition Inc., a producer of cow beds in Alberta, Canada. Marketed under the name Cozy Cow, the mattresses are made of recycled tire “crumbs” encased in a durable synthetic fiber. To make them, the company shreds some 500,000 tires each month. The beds are anti-fungal, antimicrobial, anti-bacterial and nonabrasive. Other benefits include increasing animal comfort, decreasing veterinary bills and improving the quality and production of milk. Apparently, as with humans, a well-rested cow is a happy cow.

10 SleepSavvy • March 2010

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


Leggett loves Sleep Savvy because it gives manufacturers a voice in the conversation taking place on the retail sales floor.

January/February 2010

“As a large supplier in the bedding game, Leggett & Platt knows that the retail sales associate is the most important link to consumers. It is essential to establish a strong channel of communication between manufacturers and retailers, and Leggett trusts Sleep Savvy to deliver important messages to its audience of more than 24,500 retail readers.” Mark Quinn

Group Executive Vice President Sales/Marketing, Bedding

The cover story

Social Media: Creating a customer conversation We’re all in. How about you? Dive in. Or put a toe in. But whatever you do ... do something. The more we use Twitter, the more we want to hear insights from retailers like you. And we’ll respond. After all, if you’re not engaged in the national conversation, how will you learn what’s emerging at the grassroots level? We’re excited. And you should be too. Because we’re helping more and more salespeople from coast to coast to share the latest ideas, best practices and trends to improve sleep quality for every customer.

RETAIL ROAD TRIP

Specialty chain Dreams plc leads in U.K. market

So jump in. Let us hear from you.

BE MY GUEST

Barrie Brown talks about what’s really important to the customer SPECIAL SECTION

Join the conversation at: http://twitter.com/LPBeds4life http://twitter.com/@joplinquinn http://twitter.com/Home_Collection http://twitter.com/hermantam http://twitter.com/Carthage32

Are your ads getting read? Advertise in Sleep Savvy.

To become a champion of customer service, change your mind

For information and rates, contact Kerri Bellias 336-945-0265 or kbellias@sleepproducts.org


The cover story

Retailers moving into culture of sustainability Being green makes sense‌and dollars

12 SleepSavvy • March 2010

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


T

arget’s doing it. Staples is doing it. REI’s been doing it for a while. Giant Walmart is doing it in a big way, announcing last summer that it would launch an environmental labeling program for all of the products it carries. In the home furnishings business, Ikea has been invested in sustainability for a long time. More recently, retailers like ABC Carpet & Home, Raymour & Flanigan and Rooms To Go (featured in this issue’s Retail Road Trip) have made major commitments. “Get on the green bandwagon, or get hurt by it,” says Will Ander, senior partner at McMillan Doolittle, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm, and co-author of Greentailing and Other Revolutions in Retailing. In their book, Ander and co-author Neil Stern define “greentailing” broadly. It’s not just about selling green products—it’s about implementing environmentally sustainable, socially responsible and economically profitable business practices. And it’s not just

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

about doing the right thing for the environment—it’s about doing what’s good for your company’s bottom line. Greentailing is where environmental responsibility meets ROI. It need not be costprohibitive, points out Accenture, a global management consulting firm. In fact, in most cases, measures to reduce waste and energy consumption pay for themselves. Going green is good for business—not only because it brings financial benefits, but also because it offers the chance to establish market leadership. Consumers are actively seeking retailers with green credentials, Accenture says. A Cone Inc. study of 1,000 consumers in 2009 (in the thick of the recession) found 70% percent of Americans—75% of women and 65% of men—are paying attention to what companies are doing with regard to the environment, even if they cannot buy for now. And according to an Accenture study, 91% of consumers would consider switching if they learned about a company’s negative practices.

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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THE COVER STORY going green

25 steps you can take to be green

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eing green involves a commitment that goes beyond selling green mattresses and other green merchandise. It’s a commitment to operational sustainability and stewardship. Here is a checklist of some of the key steps your company can take to be green. Establish a program 1. Set green goals for your company, both short- and long-term. 2. Put someone in charge of implementing and overseeing green practices—a director of sustainability. 3. Make environmental awareness part of your employee training program. 4. Communicate progress on green initiatives regularly within your company. 5. Solicit green ideas and feedback from staff on an ongoing basis. 6. Make every employee responsible and acknowledge success in positive ways. 7. Encourage employees to set individual green goals they can apply in their personal lives, not just on the job. Save energy 8. Explore using alternative, renewable energy sources—non-fossil/ bio-fuels, solar, wind—for a percentage of your power needs. 9. Call your energy suppliers to perform energy audits in your stores—they’re often free. 10. Participate in electricity peak load reduction programs. 11. Use only Energy Star appliances (www.energystar.gov), such as motion-operated hand dryers in restrooms. 12. Look into energy management systems such as automated occupancy sensors, climate control systems and HVAC reclaim

14 SleepSavvy •

March 2010

13.

14.

15. 16.

systems. Install programmable thermostats and time clocks for lighting to reduce energy consumption during non-operating hours. Install compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) in showroom lamps. (Not only do incandescent bulbs cost more to power, but a 60-watt bulb will put almost 2 pounds of CO2 into the environment in 24 hours.) Turn all electronics off during non-operating hours. Even the “sleep” mode wastes electricity. Use fuel-efficient, size-appropriate trucks and other vehicles. Consolidate deliveries and establish efficient routing for trucks to encourage lower carbon emissions.

Reduce & recycle 17. Work with vendors to reduce product packaging and increase the content of recycled materials.

18. R  ecycle paper, corrugated cardboard, plastic materials, Styrofoam, scrap metal, wood pallets. Research companies in your area that buy and/or collect materials for recycling. 19. Recycle used mattresses and foundations. Research local resources that will work with you to keep old bedding out of landfills and out of the hands of renovators. (See story opposite.) 20. Go paperless—implement a “print only when necessary” policy. Use email for everything you can. When you do use paper, make sure it’s high in recycled content and that you recycle it when you’re done. 21. Use furniture blankets for delivery instead of disposable packaging. 22. Donate used electronics to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, local schools, etc. Or find a place that collects and recycles equipment. Renovate green 23. When replacing carpeting, install carpet made of post-consumer recycled content (such as plastic soda and water bottles). 24. Install low-energy glass, more insulation and reflective roofing that conserves energy through heat loss and gain. Or think about planting a roof garden. 25. If you’re building a new store, go for LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Work with architects and engineers with LEED Accredited Professional credentials. A great tool for retailers who want to go green is the National Retail Federation’s Sustainability Scorecard, available online at www.nrf.com. ● www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


THE COVER STORY going green

Finding green ways to dispose of old beds By Barbara Nelles

T

he sight of an old mattress lying on the side of the road is an ugly reminder of a problem. What happens to mattresses at the end of their useful life? Where do they go and who is responsible for disposing of them? Landfill operators hate mattresses. They don’t compact well and their springs can jam machinery. The mattress industry hates that too many used beds end up in the hands of unscrupulous renovators who perform a little cosmetic surgery and resell them as new, often violating federal flammability standards and exposing consumers to allergens and pests. Mattress recycling is gaining supporters both inside and outside the bedding industry. They agree: It’s good for the environment and for the industry’s image. It’s also good for new mattress sales when it cuts off the supply of used beds to renovators. There are more than a dozen mattress recycling facilities in North America. (For a list, check www.sleepproducts.org and click the “Sustainability” tab.) The majority are run by nonprofits and most have found that financial viability depends on collecting a per-piece tipping fee, with a going rate of $6 to $15 per unit. Some in the recycling and mattress industries support the idea of a universal product disposal fee collected at the point of sale—much like what is done in many states with used tires, large appliances, automobile batteries, paint and other items. Others worry about more government involvement, preferring that the industry devise and manage its own solution. There is increasing agreement, however, that within seven to 10 years, recycling of used mattress materials could become commonplace in North America. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

Why go green? ● Market differentiation and advantage ● Customer satisfaction ● Increased sales ● Cost savings ● Great PR ●S  ignificant environmental and community benefits

While the recession has slowed momentum when it comes to the growth of mattress recycling—the flow of beds has slowed, recyclers have closed and demand for components has fallen—studies and anecdotal evidence show that a growing number of consumers are concerned about what happens to the mattresses they discard. Retailers on the front lines Many large retailers, including Sleep Country Canada, Sleep America and Rooms To Go (the subject of this issue’s Retail Road Trip) have programs aimed at diverting mattresses from landfills. They donate lightly used beds to charity, do their own recycling or contract with recyclers. Retailers Slumberland and Art Van Furniture have invested in shredding machines to compact used bedding before taking it to the landfill. “We use a shredder from SSI Shredding Systems that allows us to grind up mattresses, box springs and unusable products and compact the material about 20 to 1,” says Dave Rosenbrook, fleet and facilities manager at Slumberland. “But the industry as a whole needs to devise and manage a comprehensive solution,” says Barrie Brown, former CEO of Mattress Giant and now a consultant to small-box retailers. “Others talk about needing ‘a level

playing field’ in order to begin, but if we do nothing, that may lead to government imposing a solution on the industry.” Mattress Giant, he notes, continues to send its customer castoffs to recycler Conigliaro Industries in Framingham, MA. SOLinc (Save Our Landfills), a mattress recycling consultancy in Phoenix, is “working to find a scalable solution for retailers of all sizes,” says principal and partner Daryl Newton. “Fundamental to our mission is education of consumers, manufacturers, retailers and recyclers.” One client is Correctional Industries, a public/private partnership based in Seattle that is establishing a recycling facility using prison labor. ISPA Earth initiative Promoting mattress recycling is one of the goals of ISPA Earth, the cradle-tocradle sustainability initiative of the International Sleep Products Association. “ISPA’s primary role is as a facilitator, promoting and encouraging mattress recycling,” says Ryan Trainer, ISPA executive vice president and general counsel. “We work to stimulate discussion and awareness of mattress recycling; act as an information resource on processes, procedures and equipment; and are helping interested entrepreneurs and organizations connect with existing operations.” While budgetary constraints prevent the association from fully funding all aspects of its recycling initiative, ISPA has done much work to date. In 2003, it created a Mattress Disposal Task Force to study the opportunities and challenges. It issued a thorough analysis of recycling and made detailed recommendations on how the industry should move forward. (The report is available under the “Sustainability” tab at www.sleepproducts.org.) The association currently is explorSleepSavvy • March 2010

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THE COVER STORY going green

ing using tire-shredding machinery adapted for mattress recycling. These machines, costing half a million dollars or more, can shred an entire mattress or foundation in seconds and a magnetized separation process collects the metal. Many see such grinding as the best way to handle high-volume recycling and to prevent cast-off beds or their components from being reused by renovators. An interesting model, Trainer says, is the independent nonprofit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Program (www.call2recycle.org), which funds the collection and recycling of rechargeable batteries in North America. “Although the funding mechanisms that finance this program wouldn’t work well for the mattress industry, we can learn a lot from how they have solved some of the logistical problems of getting the used products to a recycling center,” he says. “They have enlisted retailers as important links in the collection process and promote their industry’s green efforts.” Filleting old mattresses Most recyclers manually “fillet” mattresses and pull apart the components. At PPL Industries in Minneapolis, a nonprofit that assists low-income families, mattresses are dissected on roller tables using electric cutters. PPL provides job training for difficult-to-employ people—the homeless, immigrants and individuals recently released from institutions. “We get complaints about the cost—$15 per mattress or foundation—but not from consumers. They’re on board with our program and what we’re trying to do,” says Doug Jewett, COO. Among those who say the per-piece charge is too high are retailers, municipalities and

16 SleepSavvy • March 2010

Consumers support mattresses recycling

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SOLinc 2009 survey of 500 U.S. consumers who had purchased or were planning to buy a new mattress in 20 markets revealed the following: ● 66% of consumers are strongly against mattresses going into landfills ● 80% would select one retailer over another because they recycle old mattresses ● 57% would support a mattress recycling fee at purchase of a new one. Average reasonable fee: $17.23. Consumers understand the benefit and accept the cost, but they want it to be rolled into the price of the goods and they want it to be easy.

private waste haulers, he says. PPL plans on lowering its per-piece price, broadening its reach and conducting community awareness and collection campaigns. Goodwill Industries in San Jose, CA, opened a small recycling facility in 2009 with the assistance of Rubicon National Social Innovations, a nonprofit with headquarters in San Francisco. Rubicon’s goal is to support the creation of businesses that provide training and transitional employment for “marginal” populations. It’s also involved with mattress

recycling operations soon to open in Baltimore and Philadelphia. “The dismantling operation is highly manual,” says Jonathan Harrison, Rubicon director of operations. “We fillet the mattress, but use a machine to remove springs from wood. Then we saw and bale the wood.” The largest mattress recycler in North America is the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, based in Eugene, OR. It operates three facilities in California and Oregon that together process about 150,000 mattresses per year, for a $6 tipping fee per unit. “Our crew at DR3 (which stands for Divert, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) in Oakland can deconstruct a mattress in 10 minutes using a machine that shears off the top of the bed,” says Terry McDonald, director. Components are bundled and baled, then shipped to companies across the country. “Our community is supportive of mattress recycling and the good green jobs it produces,” McDonald says. “That’s important to our success.” Recycling appeals to consumers Consumers generally like the idea of having their used mattresses being diverted from landfills and the components recycled. “There is a marketing advantage to retailers in telling consumers you are being responsible for your waste stream,” says Jonathan Harrison, director of operations for Rubicon. “Our research shows that consumers are open to paying a green fee of $6 to $10 per unit to retailers for the disposal of their used mattress—as long as they have a guarantee that their old bed won’t be resold and it won’t end up in a landfill.” A 2009 SOLinc survey of 500 U.S. consumers who had purchased or www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


THE COVER STORY going green

were planning to buy a new mattress had similar findings (see box opposite). “Our study shows that consumers are already behind mattress recycling,” says Joe Paviglianti, a principal and partner. “They will choose one retailer over another if it is recycling used bedding. They don’t want their old mattress resold or landfilled.” SOLinc’s study also showed that many consumers are confused by the term “recycling.” “They associate it with renovation,” Paviglianti says. “We need better consumer education to explain that none of the reclaimed components are used in new beds.” There’s little doubt that too many old mattresses are finding their way into the renovation market from curbside, loading docks, transfer sta-

tions, landfills and elsewhere. Industry representatives and recyclers estimate that 10% to 30%—most cite the higher percentage—of all discarded bedding finds its way to renovators. “The used bedding market is almost impossible to quantify,” says Barrie Brown. “The harsh reality is that there are stores everywhere selling these products and they give the whole industry a bad name.” Some say that widespread recycling could improve consumers’ impressions of the entire mattress industry. “Consumers deal with mattress disposal once every 10 years or so,” says Slumberland’s Dave Rosenbrook. “But when they do, it can be a real thorn in their sides and recycling can be a compelling story: ‘We’ll pick up and dispose

of your old mattress in an environmentally friendly, safe manner.’” Or, as Brown puts it: “If we did something really bold about mattress recycling, it could shake up the industry’s bad image among consumers.” ●

More on ‘green’ in this issue… ●R  etail Road Trip (page 19) visits Rooms To Go for an inside look at this Top 100 retailer’s lucrative recycling program. ● Consumer Check (page 25) highlights the results of a new consumer survey conducted by McMillan Doolittle and the National Retail Federation.

Consumer pulse taken in new SSA/Simmons survey

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early two-thirds (63%) of consumers are “very” or “extremely” concerned about the “health and safety” of the furniture and mattresses they buy, according to the results of a recent online survey of 637 U.S. adults sponsored by the Specialty Sleep Association’s Green Initiative and conducted by mattress manufacturer Simmons. While a smaller number (23%) said they are “very” or “extremely” concerned about the environmental impact of new mattresses and furniture—about half (47%) described themselves as “somewhat” concerned—the findings suggest that where health, safety and environment intersect may prove to be fertile ground for marketers of green products. The survey also revealed a significant preference for environmentally friendly beds. Given a choice between two mattresses of equal comfort—but just one of them green—nearly 80% said they would pick the green product. And more than half believe that an environmentally friendly mattress would be a healthier choice. But these consumers were equally divided on whether they would pay extra. Just under 40% indicated that they would pay more for an environmentally friendly mattress while another 40% said no. Of those who said yes, 12% would pay up to $50 extra, 9% would pay $51 to $100 more, 3% would spend $101 to $200 more, 9% would be willing to pay $201 to $500 extra, and 6% were willing to fork over more than $500 in additional cost to buy a green mattress.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

Many consumers also expressed greater concern for the environmental impact of the mattress at the end of its lifecycle versus the beginning. When asked about their level of concern over the disposal of replaced mattresses and furniture, 40% were “very” or “extremely” concerned. Just 22% said they are “not very” or “not at all” concerned about the fate of the discarded products.

A ‘green seal’? One of the ideas being preliminarily explored by the SSA’s Green Initiative is the possibility of some type of green labeling program for mattresses. In the consumer survey, 56% indicated that a green seal or certification would make them more likely to consider buying that mattress. Similarly, an in-person survey of 233 retail sales associates conducted by Simmons field reps indicated that 87% of RSAs believe an industry green standard would be “somewhat” or “very” helpful. Three-quarters of the surveyed RSAs said they have experienced customers asking for “natural”, “organic” or “environmentally friendly” mattresses.

To learn more The full report, “Environmental Claims: What Marketers and Retailers Need to Know,” is available for purchase from the Specialty Sleep Association for $99 for SSA members or $299 for nonmembers. Find out more by visiting the SSA website at www.sleepinformation.org.

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

Rooms To Go RTG Senior VP of Distribution John Zapata

Green initiatives rake in greenbacks from the get-go By Barbara Nelles Photography by Steven Kovich and Rooms To Go

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hen it launched in 1991, Rooms To Go shook up furniture retailing with its complete room packages at affordable prices. But its “packaging”-related trailblazing did not end there. A year later, the company rolled out the first stage of what would become a massive packaging recycling program. Since then, the program has paid off bigtime. In 2007 alone, gross revenue from recycling cardboard, foams, plastics and other materials totaled $3 million. “Business was so good in our second year,” says John Zapata, senior vice president of distribution, “that dumpsters were filling up with packaging waste like no tomorrow. So I started looking around for an alternative to sending all that trash to landfills.” Zapata got his inspiration not from other retailers—no one else was recycling at the time—but from reading and coursework in environmental control systems at a community college. “I came up with a plan and went to my boss and told him we needed to begin recycling and we should start with cardboard. I told him this was a slam-dunk. I didn’t have to pin down the ROI, but I did go into detail about why it was a good idea for the long term.”

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

RTG’s efficient system, with conveyor sorting and foam shredders, yields “clean,” compact bales and bundles.

Recycling lessons learned

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f you’re thinking about launching a successful recycling operation, here are some tips from John Zapata, Rooms To Go’s senior vice president of distribution: ● Appoint an on-site manager to take responsibility for the program. ● Give the operation the stature and recognition it deserves within your company. ● Create a bonus system to reward hourly workers for clean, careful and efficient recycling. ● Monitor the waste stream to assess “cleanliness” of bundles and bales to ensure recyclables are kept out of trash dumpsters. ● Hire an industrial engineer to design your recycling center operation. ● Expect to make upfront capital investments in equipment, including baling, chipping and shredding machinery, conveyors and bins. ● Gather information about the local recyclables market and area contractors by reading regional recycling publications.

20 SleepSavvy • March 2010

Over the next few years, the program was stepped up to include all types of packaging waste and expanded from RTG’s regional distribution centers to include all of the stores. Trucks visit stores twice a week to deliver goods and backhaul all recyclable waste, from break-room bottles and cans to printer paper and furniture packaging. To date, says Zapata, RTG has kept nearly 100,000 tons of cardboard, plastic, foam and other waste out of local landfills. A recycling culture The evolution of a recycling culture at Rooms To Go was organic, Zapata says. “We didn’t have a green committee or a green initiative. We’ve always had trash and always had a managerial person in charge of it. Those managers became the recycling department. In warehouse meetings, www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

we discuss the recycling program and we issue updates in newsletters. Recycling is just a routine part of our regular managerial duties.” RTG has a unique delivery model that makes recycling easier than it is for other furniture retailers. All orders ship directly from one of eight regional distribution centers to the consumer’s home, instead of shipping to the store first. RTG trucks backhaul all packaging waste from deliveries—corrugated cardboard, rigid polystyrene foams, foam wrap and plastic film—directly back to each distribution center’s recycling department. Every distribution center has its own recycling center, occupy-

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

RTG: Profile of success

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effner, Fla.-based Rooms To Go opened its doors in 1991 with a novel sales concept: Entire room packages—everything from the sofa and end table to the area rug, artwork and dried flower arrangement—affordably priced and delivered to your home within one week. The chain is the brainchild of Jeff Seaman, son of New York furniture retailing veteran Morty Seaman, who is also involved in the privately owned company. Today, RTG holds the No. 4 position in Furniture/Today’s Top 100 Furniture and Bedding Retailers list with $1.488 billion in sales for 2008, and the No. 11 position on the Top 25 U.S. Bedding Retailers list, with $158 million in bedding sales in 2008. The company has 130 stores, including Rooms To Go Kids, in nine southeastern states, Puerto Rico and Panama. Average store size is 32,000 square feet with about 100 complete room settings per store. Stores display 18 to 24 mattress models from manufacturers Comfort Solutions, Sealy, Serta, Simmons and Tempur-Pedic. Mattresses are displayed within bedroom settings and partially covered with decorative top-of-bed, which the retailer also sells. The average ticket is $850 for a queen set. Price points in queen open at $499 and top out at $4,000. Sleep accessories include decorative linens, mattress protection and Tempur-Pedic pillows. According to RTG Vice President Lenny Cacioppo, who oversees the bedding category, the company has a devoted team of employees that tend to stick around. “Nobody leaves,” he says. “It’s because the Seamans are a great family and this is a great company to work for. Salespeople make generous commissions; people in general are treated well and make a good living.”

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

ing from 5,000 to 50,000 square feet. Recyclables processing has been streamlined and automated through the years by a staff industrial engineer. The set-up includes sorting stations with conveyors and bins, baling and shredding machinery and a dedicated recycling crew. Cardboard provides the greatest revenue stream, Zapata says. Everyone should recycle it. “But it’s a commodity and like most commodities, prices go up and down.” When plastic recycling was added in 1994, “it required a bit more research and time to become a revenue stream,” Zapata says. “We needed to find the right agents to go to and had to invest in different baling machinery. The plastics are separated into two polymer types and baled into bundles.” The recycling companies that distri-

22 SleepSavvy • March 2010

bution centers deal with are all “local guys,” Zapata says. One agent usually takes both plastic and cardboard. There is no revenue in recycled wood, but that gets sent to a recycler, too. Despite the recession, which has negatively affected the volume and value of the waste stream, recycling continues to pay off. In 2009, RTG earned $650,000 from its cardboard, $175,000 from plastic, and $190,000 from polystyrene foam. In 1996, when it began recycling polystyrene foam and foam wrap, investments were made in foam chipping machines that blow condensed, chipped rigid foam into vacuumpacked logs. The foam wrap is baled. Recycled polystyrene can be used to make other plastic products such as clothes hangers, outdoor furniture, flowerpots, toys, picture frames and

architectural molding. Zapata says they’ve made significant investments in recycling machinery, to the tune of $400,000 to $1 million per distribution center. “Equipment costs are steep up front. But every capital expenditure has paid for itself and usually in much less time than anticipated.” When the retailer began collecting recyclables from its stores, the only

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

Delivery trucks to the stores backhaul all recyclable waste

expense was a $950 metal shed per store to hold recyclables for pick up. As a result, the retailer has been able to reduce waste-hauling bills at stores. “And the backhauls of store recyclables are technically carbon neutral,” Zapata adds. Keeping it ‘clean’ It’s imperative to keep bundles and bales of recyclables ‘clean,’ Zapata

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

explains. Clean means no commingling of different types or grades of recyclables. “I’ve seen other recycling operations that are yielding horrible mixes. When you set up your recycling operation, you need policies and procedures in place that prevent cross-contamination. And those rules must be enforced by managers.” Employees on the recycling line can earn biweekly bonuses—of about $50—“based on how clean their tonnage is,” he says. “It’s important to treat recycling like the first-class, important operation that it is and allow people to feel proud of their efforts.” In 2006, Rooms To Go reduced its carbon footprint further by installing zoned, high-efficiency

warehouse lighting that is saving the company up to $50,000 a month on its energy bills. “Outfitting a single warehouse with the new lighting cost about $8,000, but we saved that in a single month. The savings have been more than we could ever have imagined,” Zapata says. “The reason so many companies don’t get involved in sustainability initiatives is they think it costs too much money. They’re put off by the initial cost of equipment. They’re worried you can’t protect the environment without hurting the bottom line. In reality, it’s just the opposite,” he says. “Most efforts pay for themselves and more. And with recycling, it can be made into a reliable source of income. There is no downside.” ●

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer

NRF Survey

Consumers looking for green products and stores

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espite a poor economy, consumers continue to put a priority on green when it comes to shopping, according to a late 2009 survey of 1,600 adult Americans conducted by McMillan Doolittle and the National Retail Federation. And while buying green products is their main interest, consumers want retailers to be green in the way they operate, as well. In 2009, 60% purchased a product that was specifically environmentally friendly and 68% said green concerns impact their shopping and purchasing behavior. Moreover, 79% rated the performance of green products they purchased as very good or excellent, so the performance stigma seen in

past surveys is disappearing. But the unwillingness to pay any additional for green is not—41% won’t pay any additional, 28% will pay 5% more, 19% will pay 10% more. Just

Communicating green can be tricky

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reen marketing experts agree that it’s important to educate consumers about your sustainability initiatives, including communicating your efforts to customers in your stores. But with consumer distrust of green claims higher than ever and charges of “greenwashing” always a threat, retailers and their vendors need to proceed with caution and more than a little finesse. Noted expert on marketing to women Andrea Learned offered these thoughts in recent articles on her blog, http://learnedon.com/blog/. “Consumers expect and appreciate brands that are authentic and transparent about the journey toward more sustainable practices. They mistrust any pronouncements like: ‘We are the greenest brand out there! We’ve resolved all our issues forevermore.’ (When you hear or read that, feel free to insert an eye-roll, because that’s what consumers are doing.)” “Think in terms of consumer education rather than marketing,” Learned stresses. “Realize there is no ‘hard sell’ for sustainable practices and products. Your company is ‘in’ sustainability for the long haul and so are consumers.” Importantly, she advises, “Keep a humble perspective and tone, because it is more accessible and inviting to the consumer’s learning mind.” And be willing to learn from them, too. On your website, ask your customers for their ideas and suggestions on how you can be more green. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

12% are willing to pay a premium of 15% or more for green. Green is a competitive factor Being eco-friendly is becoming more important in deciding where to shop, according to the research. In 2008, 39% of consumers said they decided on a particular store because merchandise or operations were more green-friendly than others; in 2009, that number rose to 45%. Recycling tops the list of most important green practices for retailers to pursue—50% said that it is very important. “Operating in a manner that saves energy” was second on the list at 41%. The use of sustainable materials and packaging was third at 37%. Just over a quarter said using fair-trade purchasing practices is also very important. But American shoppers are not impressed with retailers overall when it comes to being environmentally friendly. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, just 18% of retailers SleepSavvy • March 2010

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CONSUMER CHECK

profiling your customer

The 7 deadly sins of ‘greenwashing’ “Greenwashing” has become the term for misleading or deceiving consumers about green products, services or practices. Environmental marketing organization Terrachoice defines the seven sins of greenwashing: 1. The hidden trade-off. Focusing on a narrow set of attributes, such as sustainable forestry in marketing paper, but neglecting to address the energy used in processing. 2. Lack of proof. Making a claim that can’t be verified. 3. Vagueness. Making claims that are too vague or broad. For example, Terrachoice points out that arsenic, uranium and mercury are “all natural”— but they are also poisonous. 4. Irrelevance. Highlighting an environmental claim such as “CFC free” may sound good but is irrelevant because CFCs are already banned by law. 5. Lesser of two evils. Making a claim that highlights a positive attribute that distracts the consumer from a much more major environmental issue—such as “organic cigarettes.” 6. False claims. An example would be a claim that a product has achieved the Energy Star label when it has not. 7. False labels. Creating false labels to mislead consumers that a product has been certified green by a third party. To learn more about greenwashing and read the Terrachoice report, “The Seven Sins of Greenwashing: Environmental Claims in Consumer Markets,” go to http://sinsofgreenwashing.org.

received a rating of 4 or 5. In 2007, that number was 52%. Half of consumers don’t think retailers are putting enough effort into being green. American shoppers want clearer information from retailers or their

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vendors on how green a product is—57% said this was important or very important. Just 8% said it’s not at all important. Consumers are suspicious of retailers’ claims about the greenness of

their products. Only 6% “strongly” believe the claims and 51% “somewhat” believe. Green labels are “important” or “very important” to 50% of consumers and “somewhat important” to another 30%. Energy Star is considered most trustworthy, with nearly 70% giving it a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. The USDA Organic label received top ratings from 58%. What’s driving consumers toward green? Reports of climate change were cited by 21% and pollution by 17%. Manufacturers’ educational efforts were dubbed important by 14% and another 13% cited education from organizations that promote green lifestyles. Fuel price increases were picked by 11%. Green matters more to women Green is important to both sexes, but women are leaders in the green product arena. While 54% of men made green purchases in 2009, 63% of women bought green products. Moreover, 71% of women said green considerations impact their shopping and purchasing, compared to 60% of men. The likelihood of buying green products is also higher among younger shoppers. Nearly 70% of Americans 18-34 bought green products in 2009, compared to 55% of those over 45. ●

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BE MY GUEST by Vicki Kunkel

Overly helpful salespeople could be driving mattress customers out of your store Does that shock you? If you’re like most of my retail clients, it probably does. After all, you’ve spent a good deal of time and money on customer service and sales training that tells sales associates to greet customers as soon as they come in the door, ask questions to help identify the customer’s needs and then immediately offer solutions. But this approach scares off more customers than it sells. Why? Because, anthropologists tell us, it’s counter to our primordial programming and triggers the “fight or flight” response that is part of our evolutionary conditioning. In other words, the “greet them as soon as they arrive” approach makes us want to run away. I have a background in behavioral economics—applying scientific research on social interactions and emotions to better understand what makes someone buy one product over another. One of my clients, Judy, hired me to find out why, despite having heavy foot traffic through her store, she hadn’t sold one single piece of furniture after six months in business. The store sells highend, ultra-modern furniture in a hip section of Chicago. Over lunch one day, she told me about what she thought was a peculiar behavior pattern in her store visitors. “Customers come into the store, walk around the entire space, even stop and look at a piece of furniture as if they are really www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

interested in buying it. But when a salesperson approaches, they quickly start to walk away. And if the associate asks even a simple question like, ‘Do you have any questions?,’ most customers get curt and rude,” Judy said as she shook her head. “Those same customers go down the street to a competitor where they will buy a table or chair that is similar to what they were looking at in my store!” I decided to go to Judy’s store to see firsthand what could be the problem. As I stepped across the threshold, a perky sales clerk bounded up to me. “Welcome! My name is Susan. Is there anything in particular you’re looking for today?” I explained that I hadn’t been to the store before and was “just looking.” “Oh, okay. Well, if you need anything, my name is Susan. Just come and find me. I’ll also check in with you in a few minutes. Here’s a brochure to look at in the meantime. And again, my name is Susan.” I hung out at the front door for a while to observe the sales associates’ approach and customer behavior patterns. Susan and her colleague, Bruce, did the same little welcoming ritual with each visitor. The customer reactions were fascinating—and universal. Every time Susan or Bruce said, “Welcome. Is there anything in particular you’re looking for today?” customers would usually smile and say, “No, just looking,” or “No thank you.” But something happened when they continued with SleepSavvy • March 2010

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BE MY GUEST

by Vickie Kunkel

the rest of the spiel—“If you need anything...” The customers would raise their voices, take on a terse tone and walk more quickly away from the sales associate. But they didn’t just turn and walk out of the store, they would make one round through the store first—as Judy had described. As they were walking away from Susan or Bruce, they would usually say something such as, “I’ll let you know if I want anything,” or sarcastically reply, “Let me guess— you’re on commission.” After about 10 minutes of observation, I knew why Judy’s customers weren’t buying. It had to do with lizards. That’s right: Lizards. Escaping the ‘predator’ When lizards encounter a predator, they have a peculiar way of fleeing. They don’t just run and hide. They put a lot of bravado into their escape. They let predators know where they are by thrashing around and making a lot of noise as they run—often passing right by potential refuges before hiding. Why does a lizard do this? To sig-

28 SleepSavvy • March 2010

nal a predator that there’s no need to chase her because she has the ability to escape. The lizard is, in effect, saying to the predator: “Here I am. Catch me if you can. But you can’t, so don’t even bother.” That noisy and long escape dance is an innate response. The lizard didn’t think about it—it’s not a learned response. Instead, a primal trigger within the lizard caused her to react the way she did. A similar primordial response caused Judy’s customers to take a long time to “escape” the sales “predator” by making a slow round through the store and by stopping briefly to look at merchandise. The rude comments—the equivalent of the lizard thrashing around and making noise as she escaped—were the customers’ way of letting sales associates know they couldn’t be “caught” and wouldn’t put up with a pushy salesperson. And, as with the lizard, these customer reactions are unconscious They’re triggered by the part of the human brain known as the reptilian brain, where rage and basic survival, fight-or-flight responses originate. When the reptilian brain is activated, rational thought is shut down and we revert to a primitive protective response. If sales associates greet customers too soon after entering a store or if they hover over the customer too much, the reptilian response is triggered and our brains are closed to any further interaction with the “predator.” So, how do you welcome and acknowledge the customer without setting off the reptilian fight-orflight response? Here are two suggestions:

1

Give customers several minutes to browse around the store before you approach. And when you do greet customers, don’t ask 20 questions. Simply say “I just want to welcome you to our store. If you have any questions, please let me know. I’ll be at the front desk.” Then leave the customer alone. When you don’t pounce on customers as soon as they arrive—or when you avoid stalking them as they make their way around your store—you won’t activate the defensive responses in the brain and customers will feel more at ease.

2

If customers lie down to test a mattress, don’t stand there while they do so. Just say, “Feel free to try it out for as long as you need to and I’ll be at the front desk if you have any additional questions.” Kara Coveli, a management consultant in Irvine, CA, got so fed up with overzealous sales people that she abandoned all storefront retail mattress outlets and went online instead. “I got tired of being treated like a five-year-old in the stores,” she told me. “I travel a lot, so I knew which hotel mattresses I liked most. I went to the hotel’s website and ordered one. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I got a great mattress without the hyperactive, desperate sales associate. Who needs that hassle?” ● Vicki Kunkel is a Chicago-based marketing, persuasion and branding expert. She has been a sales trainer for Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Instant Appeal: The 8 Primal Factors That Create Blockbuster Success. She is also a panelist on the “League of Extraordinary Minds” radio show, together with Stephen Covey and Fran Tarkenton. To learn more, visit www.yourinstantappeal.com.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


MARKET SCENE

seen & heard in Vegas Upbeat mood, innovative offerings greet Vegas Market goers By Barbara Nelles

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he optimism among vendors was palpable at the February Las Vegas Market. Buoyed by the promise of an upturn in sales, mattress manufacturers treated retailers to a host of new products and innovations, with value built into every price point. Jim Nation, president of Five Star Mattress, reported that retailers were much more upbeat this time around and “happy to have survived the toughest times.” “We had a really nice market,” said Mike Mason, director of brand development and integration at Tempur-Pedic. “No one wants to say things are great, but our sales guys and our retailers are seeing sun on the horizon.” Mattress styling was also upbeat this market. Upholstery-look borders with contrasting tops and tape-edge treatments were the stars. Intricate quilt patterns abounded. There were fabrics studded with crystals at Serta, tack-and-jump florettes at Simmons, hand-tufted borders at E.S. Kluft. Specialty foams—alone and in combination with innersprings—were the dominant construction story. More manufacturers sought to solve couples’ comfort conflicts by introducing dual-comfort beds and modular constructions in new and existing mattress lines. And gel solidified as a high-end comfort layer. Natura reported new interest in its NexGel collection introduced at the September market. Serta added Smart Support gel to its

Perfect Day collection and four others. The top bed in Park Place’s Sleep Spa collection has gel, and Comfort

All prices are suggested retails for queen size, unless otherwise noted. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

Tuesday was “Bedding Day” at the World Market Center, where some of the newest and most stylish models caught retailers’ attention in the WMC courtyard.

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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MARKET SCENE

seen & heard in Vegas

Market first-timers included Somnium’s Susanne Flother and Rainer Wieland (top), showing beds with Omniflex springs made of a strong, lightweight elastomer, and Sleep Studio’s Chris Ann Ernst and Michael Rothbard (right), showing the SleepJoy line, available with an unusual mixed formulation of latex and visco called ViscoFresh Latex Memory Foam.

Solutions’ prototype Angelic line is testing the interest in gel. While most gel layers are a honeycomb-like construction, Spring Air’s Sleep Sense beds use a gel with a more gelatin-like consistency and made from 60% soy. Tech-savvy manufacturers reached out to help retailers cross the digital divide. Sleep to Live offers a Digital Welcome Kit for RSAs, assistance with search engine optimization and a body of syndicated content to choose from. Simmons has a turnkey Google Adwords program for retailers. Pure LatexBLISS’s Kurt Ling, a Twitter aficionado, tweets out a fact a day, beginning with general information on a monthly theme and drilling down into details as the month progresses. ‘Green’ goes mainstream Green components have gone mainstream in better bedding. There was plenty of chatter about bio-foams, natural latex, sustainably forested wood, organic and cellulosic yarns,

30 SleepSavvy • March 2010

recycled steel and more. Englander’s new Posture Support Plus collection for plus-sized sleepers boasts a “strong all-natural story,” said Mark Freeman, vice president of sales for Englander’s Philadelphia licensee. He also noted that Englander “has a long relationship with natural latex.” The new beds retail for $899 to $2,000. International Bedding Corp. (IBC) reported seeing “good quality traffic and strong interest” in its relaunched Origins line, Origins Organics. The all-foam beds, retailing for $799 to $2,499, fuse latex, visco or both to a polyurethane base foam. “We are trying to provide a lot of retail value and more gross margin dollars for retailers, while being environmental stewards as best as we can,” said Eric Johnson, IBC senior

vice president of marketing and merchandising. “The nails are recycled metal, woods are from managed forests, we use latex and polyurethane foam with soy, and we don’t use glues. We tell the truth about construction and that can be powerful.” Spring Air has re-greened its Nature’s Rest line. “The brand got off track for awhile, but we’ve gone back to where we started years ago,” said President Rick Robinson. “We’re using components like Joma wool and certified all-natural latex. We also take zoning to a new level in the hip and shoulder areas.” Robinson noted that Nature’s Rest now has a minimum advertised price (MAP) policy. “This is a special brand,” he said. “We don’t want this bed to be a commodity.” The six beds are priced between $1,300 and $2,900. Natura World recently introduced GreenSpring innerspring mattresses—three beds with three comfort levels—and featured them throughout the showroom. The beds’ individually wrapped, zoned coils are 100% recycled steel, pre-compressed to yield the perfect level of comfort and ‘push back’, said Julia Rosien, communications director. Other components include Talalay latex, visco foam with soybased content, natural wool and cotton. Approximate retail prices are $999 to $1,599. “All-natural Ostermoor—it’s not just a bed, it’s a new American luxury brand,” said Dave Young, president of VyMaC and co-developer of the revitalized brand, with four models retailing for $8,000 to $10,000. Each contains 60 pounds of wool, 2 inches of natural Talalay latex, a luxury innerspring unit without border rod, an eight-way hand-tied box spring and a traditional ticking-stripe cover. The brand’s look inspired a catalog of www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


MARKET SCENE

seen & heard in Vegas fashion items, including tickingstripe ties, handbags and shoes. Great values in innerspring Therapedic added three midpriced models to its Therawrap by Therapedic collection. The beds retail for $699, $799 and $999 and offer “basic luxury” with their edgeto-edge wrapped coils, high-density foams, and black and silver detailing, said Therapedic President Gerry Borreggine. Gold Bond focused on offerings under $1,000 with high-end features. The Countess has a 2-inch Talalay latex layer, edge-to-edge encased coils and a “teddy bear” or a knit cover. The Chelsea is a two-sided bed with a 13-inch profile and edge-to-edge coils. Both models retail for about $699. “We want to give retailers more

options and enable them to increase margins at velocity price points with our high-quality, Americanmade products,” said President Bob Naboicheck. Simmons revamped its Beautyrest brand to include the good-better-best Classic, Anniversary (Simmons’ 85th) and World Class collections. Features include a “new pocketed-coil gauge and pioneering foams that satisfy the consumer’s yearning for a plush/firm feel,” said Beautyrest Brand Director Rolf Sannes. Color palettes include cream, aubergine and pewter. Retail prices are $599 to $1,999. The brand is backed by a new tag line, “It’s not just sleep, it’s Beautyrest,” new advertising and PR programs. Point-of-purchase materials include pocketed-coil demo units and spec cards that

OMI’s Walt Bader demonstrates the modular construction of the Organicpedic 81—offering 81 levels of personalized comfort.

Retailers flock to sleep accessories

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hy would a guy selling dinand integration. It retails for $129. ing room tables care about Latex International introduced a lofty, selling pillows? Well, they temperature-regulating Celsion pillow do,” said Herman Tam, group vice with gusseting. It retails for $89 in president of sales and marketing for queen and $125 in king. the Consumer Products Group of Therapedic has extended its successLeggett & Platt. Brisk sales for the ful partnership with supplier Soft-Tex, POP displays and broadened array allowing licensees to offer their retailers of sheets and pillows of the Retail a full Therapedic-branded top-of-bed Solutions program were evenly divided line, said President Gerry Borreggine. between furniture stores and sleep “And drop-ship is no problem.” shops, Tam said. Natura is helping retailers keep Some taste-tempting new pillows pillow samples clean with protector made their debuts in Vegas. The slowsleeves treated with silver—a natural response memory foam in Sleep to sanitizer. “The protector’s ‘macro silLive’s new Cool Pillow is made with ver technology’ means it’s safe and Natura’s Julia Rosien shows off the coconut milk and retails for $129. can’t seep into your pores,” said Julia company’s new pillow protector with Sleep Studio’s Infinity Pillow is minty Rosien, communications director. ‘macro silver technology’ to keep it green, made with ViscoFresh foam and At FabricTech, new pillow covers fresh and sanitary. flavored with green tea to eliminate with OmniGuard Ultra will retail for odor. It has two sleep sides and retails for $79.99. $29 for travel size and $39 for standard. The covers are Tempur-Pedic added a traditional pillow profile to its resistant to dust mites, bed bugs, stains and water. The popular line-up. The Tempur Cloud Pillow is designed to company also introduced Elite mattress and pillow protecappeal to consumers who prefer soft “scrunchable” bed tors with Sanitized Silver fabric finish. Prices range from pillows, said Mike Mason, director of brand development $119 to $169 for queen covers; pillow protectors are $39.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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seen & heard in Vegas

Big news in body mapping apps

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ody mapping systems to match customers to the right comfort level took on new dimensions this market. Sleep to Live has upgraded the sleep diagnostics program it introduced a year ago in Las Vegas. The system is synched to work with Sleep to Live’s new My Side Technology, which allows sleep partners to select dualcomfort beds. “The diagnostics process itself is more personalized and motivational with a new interface and imagery—and it’s multilingual,” added Frank Hood, chief information officer. “It’s available in seven languages and has 4.5 million profiles stored in its database.” Comfort Solutions introduced the BodyMatch screening process. Consumers use a touch screen to answer a range of questions related to height, weight, body shape and sleep preferences and Spring Air’s CSI system can recommend get comfort recommendaproducts from multiple brands—a big plus tions in the new dual-comfor retailers, said JP LeDoux. fort SleepiD mattress. “This is the answer to the customer’s quest to make an intelligent purchase decision,” said Owen Shoemaker, senior vice president of product development. “The in-store version is intuitive enough that anyone can use it, and retailers can offer SleepiD online, allowing customers to find their comfort level in the comfort of their own homes.” Spring Air introduced CSI (Comfort Silhouette Imaging), a comfort assessment tool that allows retailers to plug in as many as six different bedding brands, not just Spring Air. Developed in partnership with XSENSOR, CSI is “an impartial tool with multibrand credibility that provides an additional trust factor, which may be lacking in systems that recommend a single brand,” said JP LeDoux, vice president of sales. Consumers lie on a test bed covered in a sensor blanket with 1,600 sensors. They answer a short series of questions via a touch screen and receive a printout of results. Beta-testing over a two-year period at 120 retailers in Australia and New Zealand yielded higher close rates, a double-digit decline in mattress return rates and a 12% increase in average unit selling prices, said Spring Air President Rick Robinson. “This can be your point of differentiation in the marketplace,” he said. “It also gives retailers the flexibility to customize bed recommendations depending on each of their store’s offerings. You can ensure that every brand is represented in recommendation results.” CSI also allows retailers to develop a database of information to draw on for relationship marketing, store merchandising, RSA performance tracking and more.

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Velcro to foot streamers. Park Place featured the 20-bed American Comfort innerspring line priced at $299 to $899 retail. Foamencasement begins at the $399 price point. The $599 bed includes an inch of either visco foam or Talalay latex. “Sealy has launched its first value line since 2007,” reported Dax Allen, marketing manager for Sealy brands, Bassett and private label. “We’re seeing intense pressure at the below $750 price point because consumers are looking for great values at affordable prices.” The new Sealy beds come in five levels, opening at $299 for a foam core with woven cover and topping out at $699 for a foam-encased 667 Posture Tech innerspring unit with specialty foams and knit covers. Sealy celebrated Posturepedic’s 60th anniversary by filling in some mid-range prices points. Eight new beds are priced at $899 to $1,199 and contain layers of specialty foams, a Pressure Relief Inlay and the PostureTech Innerspring. Restonic has given ComfortCare “a new do” and “rededicated itself to innovation,” said President Ron Passaglia. Backed by new point-ofpurchase, ComfortCare debuted nine models priced at $599 to $1,299 and sporting advanced features such as “silver covers and a ventilated firming-foam base layer,” he said. Beds at $999 and above have the brand’s Marvelous Middle lumbar support. Five Star Mattress introduced the 14-model True Luxury Collection (TLC) with a pocket-coil core topped with layers of Talalay latex and visco at price points from $599 to $1,299. TLC models—sporting coffee shop-inspired names like Scone and Mocha—feature beige suede borders, dark taupe tape edge and white knit top with taupe accents. “Retailers love it,” said Jim Nation. “The look is sophisticated and rich, and it’s a departure from the all-white bed.” www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


MARKET SCENE

seen & heard in Vegas

Serta’s revamped Perfect Day collection featured a sophisticated color palette accented with crystals. The semicircular cutouts on the side panel are a new handle design called Perfect Position.

Comfort Solutions redesigned the King Koil value line for the market. It retails for $399 to $799 in queen and features contemporary geometric quilt patterns, foam encasement and patented VertiCoil innersprings. The company added more luxurious fabrics and styling to its successful plussized sleeper collection XL eXtended Life, priced at $1,199 to $1,999. At Stylution, the reintroduced Sleep Therapy brand was well received by retailers, according to Ed Scott, president. The encased-coil beds have a variety of specialty comfort layers and retail for $999 and under. Scott said his company is now able to offer a whole new level of service and selection following its recent purchase of Wickline’s equipment and intellectual property and the leasing of its California plant. “We’re bringing in compressed product from China, opening them in our California facility and reshipping. Retailers can buy in less quantity and we can service a wider variety of customers.” Innovation at every price point E.S. Kluft & Co. enlarged its offerings of outer-tufted “open chamber” beds at more affordable prices, starting at $1,999. The patented hand-tufted border ensures that “all materials www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

in the bed work in unison with the sleeper,” said Earl Kluft, president. “The open chamber prevents a drum or trampoline effect that can occur when inner materials are stretched and pulled tight as the beds are sewn up.” The new Aireloom Rip Van Winkle collection is dressed in a thick “sweater” top, toffee pinstripe borders and matching bed sash with buttons. The mattress has a foam “Euro Bottom” and sits on an eight-way hand-tied foundation. Retail prices are $3,000 to $6,000. Kluft also unveiled a new ultraluxury bed, the Beyond Luxury Sublime, retailing for $44,000. It has 2,000 individually wrapped zoned coils and layer upon layer of high-end cushioning materials. In Spring Air’s zoned Sleep Sense bed, consumers have a choice of four pressure-relieving comfort modules that are inlaid over the bed’s patentpending zoned, wrapped-coil unit. The hybrid bed uses Comfort Lok, an interlocking system of foam and springs. Zoned panels include specialty foams, as well as soy gel. The beds retail for $1,199 to $1,799. The Organicpedic 81 from OMI takes dual comfort and personalized zoning to new levels—81 levels, to

Sealy’s Jodi Allen said retailers love the new specialty sleep Embody line, featuring thick cores of visco or synthetic Smart Latex.

be exact. Inside the zippered organic cotton cover lie 18 upholstered panels of natural Talalay latex in three levels of firmness. Couples can customize and arrange to their heart’s content. The bed’s core is topped by a single piece of channeled latex. The two-sided bed retails for $7,995. Comfort Solutions’ new foamencased SleepiD is available in dual comfort models for couples and has encased coils and a variety of specialty foam comfort layers. The beds retail for $899 to $1,799 in queen. Serta’s relaunched Perfect Day, first introduced in 2005, features coil-oncoil support and elegant styling, with a dark gray upholstered foundation and contrasting white mattress with shimmering fabric and crystals. Retail prices are $1,599 to $3,000. The mattress’ unique Position Perfect handles are an eye-catching new feature. Serta has licensed Nickelodeon cartoon characters Dora, Diego and SpongeBob SquarePants for colorful children’s twin and full mattresses. The visco or innerspring beds sport SleepSavvy • March 2010

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seen & heard in Vegas vibrant woven print covers with stain resistance. They retail for $299 in twin and $399 in full. Introduced four years ago and making its debut appearance in Las Vegas, Somnium is an “eco-friendly, chemical-free” innerspring mattress with patented Omniflex springs made of a strong, lightweight elastomer. The mattress retails for $3,300 and can be purchased with a $350 slatted base. The cover unzips and components are easily separated into recyclable springs, HR foam layer with bio-based content and fabric cover. Eclipse invited market goers to “Have more fun in bed” with its new Playboy line. “It’s OK to marry the sexual with comfort,” explained Matt Connolly, Eclipse president. The Ecstasy is constructed with “extra spring, a little more padding in the center of the bed, several layers of specialty foams and a reversible duvet with two separate feels.” Suggested retail is $1,999. Eclipse also added new beds to its green collection. Eastman House touted a redesigned box spring and added several inner-tufted beds, as well as coil-on-coil models. Rave reviews for foam alone Manufacturers brought out a host of all-foam beds with newly engineered visco, latex and combinations of the two. Sealy launched Embody by Sealy, with cores of synthetic Smart Latex or visco. The mattress sports a tan knit with zigzag stitching sitting atop a foundation upholstered in dark chocolate with side pockets for personal items. The eight-bed line is priced from $1,999 to $3,299. Jodi Allen, new chief marketing officer of the bedding major, said that Embody was generating lots of excitement among retailers. Sleep Studio made its Vegas market debut showcasing the SleepJoy

34 SleepSavvy • March 2010

Sleep To Live’s Jim Ross with the Italian latex featured in the new STL 900L bed.

line of foam mattresses, toppers and pillows. The U.S.-made foam beds are available in ViscoFresh memory foam or an unusual mixed formulation of latex and visco called ViscoFresh Latex Memory Foam—a “hybrid material offering more buoyancy and extra support,” said Michael Rothbard, president. The foams are open cell and more breathable than traditional visco. They are formulated with green tea to eliminate chemical odor and have a minty smell. Retail pricing is $1,499 to $1,999. Two toppers in three firmnesses are sold separately at $399 and $499. The new visco ChiliBed from T2 International takes “sleeping cool” to new extremes, with a temperature range of 46 to 118 degrees F. It retails for $2,299 or $2,899 in dualzoned queen. “Coolness is the most desirable feature,” said President Todd Youngblood. “We’ve gotten testimonials from people going through chemotherapy, menopausal women, couples who can finally sleep together comfortably—there’s so much enthusiasm and energy out there for this product.” Glideaway has filled in upper price points in its imported 14-bed Sleep Harmony line. Three new bed

profiles—a tight top, “euro pillowtop” and “super pillow-top”—retail for $1,299 to $1,499. They pair layers of synthetic latex and visco foams and are upholstered in chocolate brown suede borders with quilted knit tops. Anatomic Global President Jeff Scorziell said “the sweet spot” in visco is $1,000 to $2,000, which is where the new Pure 7 Series bed fits, retailing for $1,299 to $1,999. The imported bed ships vacuum-packed and is a step up from the Ecomfort Series, featuring super-fast recovery, higher-density visco with greener characteristics. Foam bed maker Magniflex also filled in price points, introducing six new Color Line beds with retails from $999 to $2,499. The Italian producer’s Lavender Bed now has a taller 10-inch profile and retails for $2,699. “We are one of the largest bedding manufacturers in Europe but we are also looking out for the little guy,” said Andrea Mugnai, the general manager. “We do not sell direct to consumers and have expanded our drop-ship program to include even more beds—which is great for small independent retailers.” Sleep to Live added luxury latex models to its 900 Series beds. The 900L sports a layer of imported Italian latex molded into large geometric cutouts. It retails for $4,999. Restonic offered two new HealthRest foam beds in upper price points, $1,499 and $1,899. The collection opens at $899 retail. Pure LatexBLISS says its “outboarded” pillow-tops, which are sold separately from its latex mattresses, are a hit with retailers. “Quite a few dealers use them as a means to manage comfort returns,” said CEO Kurt Ling. “They tell the consumer that if the bed is too firm you can come back and purchase the topper for $200.” www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


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seen & heard in Vegas EcoSleep, which launched at the last Las Vegas market, added a $1,299 Cool Contour Deluxe bed, with 4 inches of visco or 4 inches of latex and a Tencel cover quilted to Cool Contour foam. The company added a 13-inch bed with a smooth top and 4 inches of 4-pound visco foam, also at $1,299. At the top of the line is a new solid latex bed retailing for $2,000. Classic Sleep Products promoted its new drop-ship import program that allows retailers to avoid channel conflict by marketing a different product online than they do in their stores. The six-item private label program includes three visco and three latex mattresses priced from $499 and $1,299. At South Bay International, actress Jane Seymour was on hand to spotlight two new models added to the

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

Eclipse’s Matt Connolly said the newly licensed Playboy line pairs a sexy image with sleeping comfort.

collection that bears her name. A new 14.5-inch bed has three layers of visco in different densities, retailing for $1,899. A new latex

model features three layers of 100% natural latex in different densities totaling 10 inches. It will retail at $2,079. The news at Tempur-Pedic was a third addition to its new plush-feeling Tempur Cloud collection. The line launched at the September market with the Tempur Cloud Supreme, retailing for $2,399, followed by the recently introduced Tempur Cloud at $1,999. Market goers got a preview of the Tempur Cloud Luxe, which will retail for $3,999 and rolls out to stores in August. The new collection is meant to appeal to the 49% of people who say they prefer a medium-to-soft sleep surface, according to Mike Mason. “We are bringing in the other half of the U.S. population. Now they can sleep on a TempurPedic and be happy.” ●

SleepSavvy • March 2010

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CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris

Great companies know how to deliver ‘wow’

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pple, Lexus, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Zappos. What do these companies have in common? All provide products that most consumers use on a daily basis. Sound familiar? Just like the mattress industry, these consumer goods companies operate in tremendously competitive environments where huge demand creates huge supply and lots of suppliers. So what is it that puts these companies at or near the top of their respective categories? And what can we learn from them? ● All offer quality products in a professional manner. ● All provide unique, enticing and even fun environments to present their products. ● All use compelling lifestyle imagery to communicate their messages to consumers. ● All strive to create exceptional buying experiences for the customers. ● All have exceptional customer service policies and practices. ● None focus on discounting or sales as the main driver of their business. But there is one common factor that may be the most important to their success. All have created a culture from within that is so infectious that it compels consumers to step into their world, take a piece of it home, tell others and go back for more. Instead of simply looking for the best deal, customers want to experience buying products from these companies for the feeling they get by doing so. Wow! Zappos’ culture of ‘wow’ One company that is the epitome of a successful culture is Zappos, the

36 SleepSavvy • March 2010

online shoe distributor. It has only been in business a few years and has just 1,500 employees, yet its annual sales exceed $1 billion. I recently toured Zappos’ facility in Las Vegas to find out what their “secret” is. Actually, it’s no secret. It’s the company’s forward-thinking core values, which they willingly share and publish on their website, www.zappos.com: ● Deliver “wow” through service ● Embrace and drive change ● Create fun and a little weirdness ● Be adventurous, creative and openminded ● Pursue growth and learning ● Build open and honest relationships with communication ● Build a positive team and family spirit ● Do more with less ● Be passionate and determined ● Be humble. Zappos employees have a passion for their products, their company, their customers and their jobs. I heard more than one say, “I can’t wait to get to work every day.” The company has a waiting list for job openings. Here are a few more ideas from

Zappos that that can help you create a winning culture at your company: ● All employees should use and believe in the products and services they sell. ● Instead of using selling steps, engage customers in conversations. ● Encourage self-expression and reward creativity. ● Give sales associates a break. Zappos provides a place to take a nap to improve productivity. ● Trade jobs. Have RSAs work in the warehouse and go on deliveries. Have all employees interact with customers on the retail floor. ● Turn your floor into an exciting multisensory environment and keep it fresh. ● Expand training to include communication and relational skills. ● Create ongoing dialogs with your customers using social media tools for follow up, testimonials and referrals. In the mattress industry, the old paradigm is to swing the door with sales, low prices and free services. The new paradigm is to create an infectious culture with loyal, enthusiastic, passionate employees and, as a result, attract loyal, enthusiastic, passionate customers. ● Gerry Morris is director of training and development for SleepTrust. As a bedding sales rep for more than 20 years, Gerry has shared his insight with thousands of bedding sales professionals. He is also the author of Spring Training: A Supplementary Guide to Mattress Sales and Sell More Bedding…Guaranteed. Contact Gerry at GMorris@innerspring.net or by cell phone at 903-456-2015. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


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Sleep Savvy Magazine  

The magazine for sleep product professionals

Sleep Savvy Magazine  

The magazine for sleep product professionals