The magazine for sleep products professionals
The inside story The latest on foam & springs
RETAIL ROAD TRIP
Alabama’s Bedzzz Express reaps rewards of ‘Extreme Makeover’ MARKET SCENE
Value price points are the big story at Las Vegas Market CONSUMER CHECK
LinkedIn/Harris poll consumers, advertisers on ad effectiveness
IN THIS ISSUE where to find it
THE COVER STORY telling the inside story
With a strong value story vital for helping consumers make a quality mattress decision, innerspring and foam suppliers in the U.S. and abroad are offering a variety of new and re-engineered mattress components to help retailers breathe new life into the inside story.
WAKE UP CALL
from the editor’s desk
Consumers won’t make the connection between sleeping on a new mattress and improved health without retailers’ help.
stuff you can use Mattress is one of the 10 things worth paying extra for; men becoming household shoppers; 72% in CR poll said new mattress improved sleep; safety nets help sell ‘anxiously employed’ consumers; code changes may mandate store sprinklers; NEW Sleep Shorts: news briefs on sleep research; sales decline slowdown evident in summer stats...and more.
CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer
Harris/Linked poll shows advertisers and consumers don’t necessarily agree on what’s effective in advertising.
seen & heard in Vegas Mattress makers showing at the September Las Vegas Market put heavy emphasis on value price points to support retailers through tough times.
by Gerry Morris
To keep your presentation fresh, start by finding out each customer’s experience and expectations.
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene This spring, Alabama’s multi-store Bedzzz Express embarked on an ‘Extreme Retail Makeover’ to redefine and grow its business, leading to its best sales month ever. SleepSavvy • October 2009
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SleepSavvy The magazine for sleep products professionals
Editor in Chief Nancy Butler 828-299-7420 firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Writer Barbara Nelles 336-856-8973 email@example.com Contributors Steven King Gerry Morris Art Direction Stephanie Belcher The Jimmydog Design Group firstname.lastname@example.org Vice President of Sales Kerri Bellias 336-945-0265 email@example.com Advertising Services Manager Debbie Robbins 336-342-4217 firstname.lastname@example.org Circulation Manager Mary Rulli 336-491-0443 email@example.com Copy Editor Margaret Talley-Seijn Vol. 8, No. 7 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, NC 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. Nonmembers 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. ©2009 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.
WAKE UP CALL from the editor
Helping people make the mattress-health connection
n my September column, I wrote about a friend with a bad back who was mattress shopping and was totally turned off by an overly aggressive sales associate. It stopped her shopping process cold for a couple of weeks. But she finally bought at another store where she enjoyed a much softer sell. I saw her at a recent club meeting and she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “My backache is completely gone.” That was really good news. But the bad news is that it hadn’t even occurred to her that her bad back might be related to her mattress until I suggested it. And it took me more than a year to convince her to do something about it. It amazes me how many people don’t make a connection between back problems and a worn-out mattress or between restless sleep and an uncomfortable mattress. And there will continue to be lots of people who don’t make those connections unless we work to change that. There are companies and programs working nationally to wake consumers up to the vital role a good-quality, new sleep set can play in improving their health and well-being. Many mattress manufacturers and some of their savvy suppliers are putting important resources into consumer education. And the industry’s Better Sleep Council is keeping the media alerted so there is regular pick-up of the council’s better mattress = better quality-of-life messages. But, retailers, it’s up to you to drive the messages home locally, to help the people in your communities make
those connections. A retailer who is doing just that is featured in this issue’s Retail Road Trip. Alabama’s Bedzzz Express has incorporated sleep messages and facts into their branding, marketing, in-store displays and selling process. They still do all of the aggressive things they need to do to bring recession-weary consumers in, offer great value and close the sale, but they enhance their sales and their position in the market by also talking to their customers about what’s really important: good sleep and good health. Research you can use When Bedzzz Express worked with Leggett & Platt on an “Extreme Retail Makeover” this spring, they crafted some of their sleep messages based on the findings of research conducted at Oklahoma State University. These studies found that sleeping on a new mattress: ● Reduced lower back pain by an average of more than 50% ● Improved sleep quality by an average of more than 60%. This is great information that you can use, too! To learn more, go to www.sleepsavvymagazine.com/ editorial/documents/OSUfactsheet.pdf. We all have a role to play in educating consumers—for their benefit and for ours. firstname.lastname@example.org
SleepSavvy • October 2009
. THRO UGH THICK
In this turbulent financial climate, sure things are hard to come by. Which is why all of us at Restonic are proud of what we continue to offer you, each and every day – a stable supplier you can count on, and quality products at great values. This is why we can make this pledge to you:
��| T H E R E S T O N I C B R A N D P R O M I S E |�� Restonic Mattress Corporation is the “ G O �T O ” B R A N D for retailers who are looking for a bedding partner who is M O R E R E S P O N S I V E and provides G R E AT E R V A L U E to them, because our R E TA I L E R S ’ S U C C E S S is our top priority.
Tom Comer | RESTONIC BUFFALO Buffalo, NY 716.895.1414
Ken Akers | RESTONIC TOLEDO Toledo, IA 641.484.3344
Richard L. Stevens | RESTONIC GRAND FORKS Grand Forks, ND 701.775.5461
Lee Quinn | RESTONIC NEW ALBANY New Albany, IN 812.945.4122
Steve Everton | RESTONIC IDAHO Filer, ID 208.326.3407
Brent Ford | RESTONIC HOUSTON Houston, TX 713.222.7394
Bob Parker | RESTONIC JOHNSON CITY Johnson City, TN 423.434.1020
Gary Robinson | RESTONIC MIAMI Miami, FL 305.635.2337
Robert Bancroft | RESTONIC FAYETTEVILLE Fayetteville, NC 910.425.0131
David Walker | RESTONIC OREGON Newberg, OR 503.538.8875
Jim McKinney | RESTONIC SPRINGFIELD Springfield, MO 417.866.2747
Randy Karp | RESTONIC SAN FRANCISCO Burlingame, CA 650.344.1980
Ron Passaglia | RESTONIC Atlanta, GA 847.241.1130
Roland Elpers | RESTONIC HAVEN Haven, KS 620.465.2242
Don Balsavich | RESTONIC ESCANABA Escanaba, MI 906.789.9902
SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use
Mattress tops list of 10 things worth paying extra for
“There are things we want to spend money on but shouldn’t. And then there are things we don’t want to spend money on but have to. These days, the goal is to save money, even when a necessary purchase arises. But the writers at www.DivineCaroline.com say there are some things worth spending a little extra money on. For example? Your mattress. “It’s where you drift off to sleep every night and where you greet every day. It makes sense that you want that night of sleep, or occasional nap, to help you wake up feeling well rested. So go ahead and pay a little more for the high-quality mattress.” That’s from a Scripps news service story published in late August, referring to a story written by Allie Firestone for Divine Caroline—a women’s lifestyle website—in October 2008. Here’s the full list of things worth paying extra for:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
A mattress A refrigerator Running shoes Quality, healthy food Medical expenses
6. An accountant 7. Mental health 8. Quality furniture* 9. Hybrid car 10. Durable pans and knives
*“Cheap furniture is best avoided whenever possible. Whether you’re talking kitchen table or couch, getting one that lasts and makes you comfortable means spending a little more.”
Are men becoming the shoppers?
omen held 49.8% of the 132 million U.S. jobs as of June. By the end of the year, women will hold more than half the jobs in our country, according to USA Today. At the same time, men have lost 74% of the total jobs lost since the recession began. Does that mean a changing role for men when it comes to shopping for home furnishings? Respected industry analyst Jerry Epperson says yes. “There is a tendency within the home furnishings industry to falsely assume that women are making all of the buying decisions and are taking care of anything that is related to the home. That is not the case,” Epperson said in his September Furnishings Digest Newsletter. “Today more women are working and more men are at home.”
Quality in a
service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the customer
gets out of it.
— Peter Drucker
SleepSavvy • October 2009
stuff you can use Steven King’s
Don’t forget to stay in touch No matter how pleased customers were when they purchased their great night’s sleep from you, they may have forgotten all about you. Six, eight, 10 years later, not only do they no longer know what they are sleeping on, but you are probably a distant memory. Don’t let that happen. You’re spending tons of money converting prospects to customers—now maximize your efforts. Here’s how: 1. Train everyone on your staff to secure customers’ email addresses and push them to get it done. There isn’t a cheaper way to stay in touch with your customers. Many of you already realize the value an email database adds to your business. Procrastinators, get busy. 2. Provide useful, ongoing information to your customer using emails, electronic newsletters, snail mail and newsletters. But remember, everything that you communicate to your customers can’t be advertising. Give your customer information she can use. For example: How to create the perfect sleeping environment. Foods that help you sleep better. Exercises that promote better health and better sleep. Studies regarding better health. New products that may be of interest to your customers, such as pillows, linens, protective pads.
3. When new inventory arrives, send out special invitations to your customers. Invite them to help you celebrate the exciting new mattresses now available. Explain in layman’s terms how they will benefit the customer, what makes them new, improved and revolutionary. Serve wine and cheese. Invite your guests to try the latest and best. Promote lots of schmoozing, heaps of fun. Focus on informal information, not on closing a sale. 4. Conduct or sponsor local events. Tying a local charity, sports league or cause gives you the “hook” you need to issue a news release announcing your special event. A community-based, public service tie-in improves the odds of your story getting picked up and covered by the media. 5. Become the “sleep expert” in your marketing area. Volunteer to speak to the Lions Club, Kiwanis, Rotarians and Toastmasters—clubs often need speakers to complete their meeting agendas. Offer yourself to radio and TV talk shows—health is always a popular topic. Keep it informative and tips-oriented. Just ask the show host to mention that you are a local retailer. Signs of an economic upturn are out there. Stay in touch with your customers so they’ll know where to go when they’re ready to buy again. Steven King is president of Steven King & Associates, a sales training firm, and the author of Money in the Mattress: The Sales Associates’ Guide to Premium Mattress Sales. Contact Steven at email@example.com; order his book at www.moneyinthemattress.com.
72% said new mattress improved sleep
onsumer Reports recently asked 17,444 online subscribers who bought a bed in the past few years about their satisfaction levels and published the results in the October issue. While most of the article concerned specific brands and retailers, it also included some excellent new data and messages for consumers. Here are some of the findings: ● 72% said their new bed improved their sleep. (“If yours is uncomfortable, consider replacing it even if it’s only five
8 SleepSavvy • October 2009
or so years old,” CR told readers.) ● 78% of those who spent more than $4,000 said they were highly satisfied with their purchase; 66% of those who spent less than $1,000 were also highly satisfied. ● Among those who said they had problems sleeping, 78% said that a new bed—any new bed—improved their ability to get a good night’s rest; 42% said the new mattress greatly improved their sleep. ● 72% of those who invested at least 10 minutes lying down on their side, back and stomach were highly satisfied with their mattress purchase compared with 62% who didn’t. ● Most respondents were pleased with their purchase experience. Seventy-one percent were very satisfied; 32% said they were completely satisfied.
stuff you can use
‘Anxiously Employed’ need safety nets for purchases
illions of unemployed Americans are being joined by millions more who are still employed but deeply worried about job security. Consumer research company Yankelovich calls them the “Anxiously Employed,” a growing group that is just as stressed, pessimistic and cautious as the unemployed. These are the people in limbo, and often that means they’ve put any significant purchases on hold. A key strategy for selling to this consumer, says Yankelovich in a recent MONITOR Minute, is offering “safety nets and guarantees at every turn. Real offers of protection and stability will resonate with this anxious group. Introduce some measure of assurance or security into their uncertain lives. Show them you understand their worries and are doing what you can to help. Offer solutions that are flexible and adaptable and that can change if, and when, their situations change.” Recent examples of these reassuring programs include Hyundai’s Assurance Program, which offers buyers the option to return new cars if they lose their jobs; JetBlue’s Promise Program, offering full refunds to customers who lose their jobs; and homebuilder Allen Edwin’s Peace of Mind Program that covers six months of mortgage payments for new home buyers if they lose their job in the first two years after moving in. “Companies and brands that step up to the plate now and help the Anxiously Employed weather the current storm are laying the foundation for long-term relationships—not only with the Anxiously Employed, but with other consumers who empathize and can readily see themselves in the shoes of the Anxiously Employed,” Yankelovich points out.
Building code proposals could mandate sprinklers in existing stores
uilding code officials meeting next month in Baltimore could recommend that sprinklers be added to both new and existing retail stores that sell mattresses and upholstered furniture. The International Codes Council (ICC) will be considering recommendations that state and local governments could adopt as law in their jurisdictions. In recent years, the ICC has rejected code changes that would have required retailers to sell only mattresses and upholstered furniture that contain fire-retardant foams. This year, the ICC will review proposed code changes that would require all facilities in which mattresses and upholstered furniture are assembled, sold or stored to be equipped with automatic sprinkler systems. A proposal supported by the National Association of State Fire Marshals would require that existing facilities be retrofitted with sprinklers, imposing significant costs on companies already operating showrooms, warehouses and factories. The International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) is working with interested parties to help defeat this effort. For information on how you can support ISPA’s efforts, contact Chris Hudgins at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ISPA’s Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/sleepproducts/home.
CPSC alerts thrift, resale stores about mattress standards
he U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has updated its Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers, alerting thrift stores and other resellers that renovated and second-hand mattresses must comply with both the 16 CFR Part 1632 and 1633 federal flammability standards. The revised handbook provides specific guidance, including: ✓ Inspect each mattress (and accompanying box spring) for a “Part 1633” compliance label. Further, thrift stores that “renovate” mattresses must do so such that the renovated mattress meets the standard. ✓ Selling a used mattress is illegal in some jurisdictions. Check your local regulations before selling. ✓ Don’t sell older mattresses that don’t meet the new standard. Destroy them. For a copy of the handbook in PDF file format, go to: www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/thrift/thrguid.pdf.
SleepSavvy • October 2009
stuff you can use
Hotel guests pick sleep over sex
Sleep S hor ts
n a poll conducted for Starwood Hotels, 51% of adult travelers said they would pick a perfect night’s sleep over great sex. And what’s preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep? Maybe it’s
those beeping BlackBerries and other electronic devices, cited by 60% as key sleep disrupters. And would they rather discover a chocolate or a sleeping pill on their hotel pillow at night? Almost half would take the pill. The poll was conducted for Starwood by Studylogic and surveyed 12,500 adults who take an average of at least two trips a year.
TV is our top sleep thief
lmost seven in 10 Americans spend nearly half of their last two waking hours each night in front of the TV. And most let primetime programming—not how sleepy they are or their need for a full night’s sleep—dictate when they turn off the lights. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s
10 SleepSavvy • October 2009
department of psychiatry reported they were frankly astonished to discover that even when people had to get up early in the morning for work—and even with technology that enables them to watch a favorite show anytime—they were unlikely to scale back on their nighttime TV viewing. That explains why people who live in the Mountain and Central time zones, where the national primetime show schedule generally runs an hour earlier, get more sleep than those who live in Eastern or Pacific time zones.
Athletic performance lagging? Try sleep
osing your oomph, your zip, the spring in your step, the get-up-and-go in your giddy-up? U.S. News & World Report health blogger Katherine Hobson (June 29) points out that a performance decline in your favorite athletics can be attributed to a number of things, including lack of sleep. “The cause of a bad workout week might be as simple as not getting enough shut-eye. Sleep is sometimes called a ‘legal performance aid’ because of its ability to
promote recovery from workouts— key for endurance—or power-based sports, such as running, biking or weightlifting. Research also suggests sleep helps embed a task or skill, which is important for athletes in precision sports, including swimming and basketball,” she writes. In studies at Stanford University, swimmers, basketball players and tennis team members all improved performance after increasing their sleep time to 10 hours a night for several weeks. We’d volunteer to give that a try!
Lack of sleep riskier for women
ack of sleep raises a woman’s risk of heart disease more than it does for a man, according to research at the University College London and the University of Warwick. Researchers found levels of inflammatory markers—indicators of heart disease—vary significantly with sleep duration in women, but not men. Earlier research suggested people who sleep less than 5 hours a night have an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who get the full 8 hours. This new study showed that among women, even a single hour of lost sleep—7 instead of 8—made a significant difference. Researcher Dr. Michelle Miller said that hormone levels might be key to the findings, noting that more studies would be required.
Every customer wants better sleep. More customers than ever are considering a Tempur-Pedic Sleep System. Make the most of every customer. ÂŽ
Sell the best. Biggest Tickets, Highest Satisfaction, Lowest Returns.
ÂŠ 2009 Tempur-Pedic Management, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
stuff you can use
Sleep Savvy digital delivered directly to you
Miller Zell survey
leep Savvy is now available in an easy-to-read digital format that looks exactly like the magazine. And we can notify you when we post each new edition—several weeks earlier than you receive your issues by mail. Just send your email address to Mary Rulli, circulation manager, at email@example.com. Your email will not be shared with outside parties. All 2009 issues are available in digital format on our website at www.sleepsavvymagazine.com. New issues are posted on the site’s home page at the beginning of the month of publication.
arlier this year retail consulting company Miller Zell surveyed retail and manufacturing executives over a broad spectrum of industries to examine the relationship between retailers and their vendors. Here are some of their insights: ● Although retailers and manufacturers say that they understand their own business challenges and target shoppers, both get low marks in this area from each other. ● Both see the need for shopper marketing and retail strategy expertise as critical, but say that the required higher knowledge does not exist with current partners. ● Participants showed a high level of frustration around the concept of collaboration. While they believe it is a critical relationship element, they say that their partners are not inclusive and only perfunctorily seek their expertise, ideas and insights. ● All participants want a high level of involvement in the development of in-store marketing strategies, but the perception is that there is not enough meaningful dialogue and co-creation of solutions. Miller Zell concluded that as the economic downturn lingers, “retailers and manufactures will need to find ways to overcome the roadblocks that create barriers to collaborative partnerships. This will be essential in the pursuit of identifying meaningful and effective strategies that will help retailers and manufacturers maintain engagement with today’s shopper.”
Retailer/vendor relationships troubled
BEDDING BIZ BEAT The dollar decline in mattress and foundation sales (wholesale) moderated in July, compared to July ‘08, but nosed back down again in August as the emphasis on value-priced goods increased. Unit sales, down 11% in July, were off by 7.6% in August, for an AUP decline of more than 6%, according to the International Sleep Poducts Association sample of manufacturers. For the first eight months, dollars were down by 14.7%, units declined by 12.2% and AUP was off by 2.9%.
Mattresses & Foundations - Millions of Dollars (wholesale) Sample of Leading Producers $303
Percent change -16.7%
Source: ISPA monthly Bedding Barometer, a sample of leading U.S. mattress producers
12 SleepSavvy • October 2009
■ 2008 ■ 2009
Telling the inside story:
The latest on springs and foam
By Barbara Nelles
ith a strong value story vital for helping consumers make a quality mattress decision, mattress manufacturers are partnering with their component suppliers in the U.S. and abroad to help retailers breathe new life into the inside story. Today’s innerspring is being re-engineered to play a much more nuanced and varied role in the mattress. Foams are grabbing attention with a dizzying array of contours, feels and functions. And makers of both components say their products carry meaningful messages that consumers need to hear, now more 14 SleepSavvy • October 2009
than ever. “As an industry, we simplified the consumer conversation, concentrating on comfort and turning away from what’s inside the bed,” says Mark Quinn, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Bedding Group at Leggett & Platt. “That was right at the time, but we’ve gone too far. Without going all the way back, let’s build more value—in a way that doesn’t confuse the consumer—by discussing what’s on the inside. There are great stories in there and they help justify higher price points.” www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Foam’s ever-expanding role
opular polyurethane, latex and viscoelastic foams are inspiring new partnerships, innovations and creativity in the mattress industry. “I’m very excited about foam’s potential, particularly when I look at the U.S. market,” says Ed Malechek, executive vice president of foam supplier Carpenter Co. “There is so much room for growth here. Non-innerspring beds are only about 10% of the beds sold in the U.S. In Europe, it’s about 40% urethane, 10% latex and 50% innerspring.” Polyurethane foam suppliers see enormous potential in North America for all-foam beds that tell a distinctive comfort story. The appeal of visco-elastic—popularly called “memory foam”—continues to spark consumer interest in new foam technologies. A peek inside some mattresses reveals a “wedding cake” of colors and convolutions of
foam. Whether the core of the bed is innerspring or polyurethane foam, “mattress manufacturers often add 3 to 5 inches of various advanced foams—latex being one of them—to the bed’s top comfort layers,” says Kevin Stein, vice president of marketing, research and development at Latex International. “It produces a great feel at a price point that today’s consumer can afford.” Continued on page 16
The eternal innerspring’s new twists
t first glance, it may seem there’s not much news in innersprings. Bonnell units, LFK, pocketed coils—they’ve been around for decades. But if you look more closely, you’ll find that innersprings have gotten a lot more interesting. Spurred by increased competition from foam and air mattresses, innerspring research and development has yielded a number of advancements: new coil configurations, nextgeneration Bonnell units, increased zoning, comfort-layer coil systems, pocketed coil improvements and one-sided spring units for single-sided beds. Spring suppliers are taking a much more proactive and aggressive approach in promoting their products. “Innersprings have been marketed against as a way to propel air and foam sales—and it was done quite well,” says Ken Hurst, U.S. sales rep for Swedish
innerspring supplier Starsprings. “But no one was countering those claims—until now.” “Show me a $1,500 innerspring bed where you ‘feel like you’re sleeping on top of coils,’” says Leggett & Platt’s Mark Quinn. “Pointing to the innerspring as the reason a consumer is uncomfortable with their current mattress is misleading and inaccurate. You can create absolutely any feel you want with an innerspring bed and build in value at every price point.” Continued on page 18
SleepSavvy • October 2009
THE COVER STORY the inside story
Foam from page 15 Foam suppliers are putting lots of creative energy into new approaches. Belgium-based Latexco, for example, has a new topper that combines three different foam densities and a dimensional feeling into a single comfort layer. Retailers will be glad to hear that the increased use of premium foams— as cores, in the quilt and as comfort layers—is helping to solve body impression problems, according to foam suppliers. In Europe, where mattresses are generally 4 to 8 inches thick, solid latex cores are popular. But visco-elastic is gaining ground there, too. Ovattificio Fortunato, based in Italy, redesigned its memory foam offerings to build in breathability and ventilation, offering a selection of visco-elastic cores with convolutions, channeling, pinholes and side vents. “We are seeing lots of interest in visco-elastic here in Italy, in Europe and North Africa and we are trying to teach our customers about just how breathable and comfortable this foam can be,” says Gillian Fortunato, company co-owner. The demand for a variety of materials that can be used in combination is changing the mix of products U.S. foam suppliers offer mattress manufacturers. Polyurethane foam supplier Hickory Springs Mfg. Co. is now U.S. distributor for latex from Latex International. “We’re the perfect combination,” says David Duncan, national product manager for Hickory Springs Bedding Foam Products. “Latex is a great sleeping surface, consumers like the ‘green’ story and it gives us the oppor-
16 SleepSavvy •
“That’s what mattress manufacturers and retailers want right now—to tell a latex story about lower price points,” says Kevin Callinan, Latexco vice president of sales. “A $999 all-latex mattress isn’t possible if the mattress is 11 to 15 inches high. But you can get the curb appeal you need at the thicker height by building up the mattress with latex at the top.” When you use latex in the bed’s top comfort layers, you don’t want to cover it with filler material, suppliers say. “Those puffy tack-and-jump quilts lose the feel of the latex,” Stein says. “We’re seeing more channel quilting come back in. It’s the European influence and it’s great for latex.” Interest in 100% natural latex is also expanding. FXI, traditionally
tunity to offer manufacturers the next hot thing.” Latex’s growing popularity inspired polyurethane foam maker Carpenter to release a new, improved version of its synthetic latex, Qualatex, this year. “It’s urethane foam with the same feeling and properties of good Talalay, but at a better price,” Malechek says. Latex demand expands Sales of latex in all forms—cores, comfort layers, quilting layers and pillows—have been increasing in the past few years, Stein says. In the current economy, offering latex on a thick mattress and doing it at an affordable price point means pairing it with an innerspring or polyurethane core.
a supplier of polyurethane foam, introduced its 100% natural latex line, Natural Latex by Foamex, to its lineup in 2008. “We are at a starting point,” says Mithra Weerasinghe, vice president and marketing director of Latex Green, a natural latex supplier with its own rubber plantations in Sri Lanka. “As consumers and retailers learn more about the environmental and behavioral aspects of natural latex, interest will grow and grow.” Latex International is among the suppliers working to meet the burgeoning demand. Stein says the Continued on page 20 www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
The Most Innovative, 100% Latex Foam Bedding Components, Made in the USA by the World’s Leading Latex Foam Manufacturer. • Family Owned. • Environmentally Conscious. • Use our Eco Footprint Research. • Exclusive Designs. • Most Experienced Design Team. • 100% Latex Foam. No Fillers. East: Latexco LLC • 975 Gerrard Road • Lavonia, Georgia 30553 • Phone 706 356 8001 • Fax 706 356 8444 Sales Office • Contact Kevin Callinan • Phone 866 528 3926 (LATEXCO) • Cell 203 444 3626 (FOAM) E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org • Website www.latexco.us West: Sleep Comp, a division of Latexco • 6725 8th Street • Buena Park, California 90620 • Phone 714 522 4991 • Fax 714 522 4900 Contact Roger Coffey • E-mail email@example.com • Website www.sleepcomp.com
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THE COVER STORY the inside story
Springs from page 15
Going to new heights Creating a variety of feels is a primary goal of innerspring suppliers. For instance, there are pocketed coils with high preloads—a very tall spring in a short pocket—that can feel as conforming as an all-foam bed, suppliers say. “There are lots of new products and innovations with unique properties out there. These are not springs as usual—these are spe-
cialty springs,” Hurst says, adding that, “The springs pitch should concentrate on durability, temperature and instant reaction—it wins on all three.” Leggett & Platt introduced an updated version of the Bonnell in 2008. Its VertiCoil unit is offered in heights up to 7 inches and is engineered for reduced motion transfer, as well as “straight up and down, vertical line deflection,” Quinn says. Today’s North American market is interested in units 6 inches and taller, says Jimmy Bush, executive vice president of the Wire Products Group at Hickory Springs Mfg. Co. “In the last two years, the trend toward thicker one-sided mattresses and an increase in petroleum prices, which affected foam and fiber prices, drove the need for a taller innerspring,” he says. “Just four years ago we offered two spring heights, 4 inches and 6 inches,” says Martin Wolfson, president of Texas Pocket Springs. “Now
18 SleepSavvy • October 2009
4 inch is nonexistent and 70% of what we sell is 8 inches.” One-sided spring units for singlesided beds are also new to the market. Both Leggett and Hickory make the units, which are designed for high-end mattresses. Pocketed innovations A good deal of recent spring innovation has been in pocketed coils, which suppliers say are better able to mimic foam’s reduced motion
transfer and cradling feeling. They are “the best way to compete with foam and you can create any feel— from plush to firm,” Wolfson says. Starsprings is engineering “less progressive” coils. “The Active Zone spring is our highest preload, but as you go down into the spring that’s when it becomes less progressive—it doesn’t push back as hard,” says Hurst. Pocketed coil comfort levels can be changed by adjusting coil height relative to pocket height, varying wire gauge, changing the coil shape
and adjusting the number of turns. Some zoned units have as many as nine zones. Such advancements are helping drive demand among mattress manufacturers eager for differentiation to offer retailers. Peter Jensen, director of marketing and sales for Keynor Spring Mfg. in Canada, has seen “a drastic increase” in the volume of pocketed coil units he’s selling. “We’ve built in a lot of features, including a zoned product introduced in early 2008, which has been well received.” Texas Pocket Springs zones the perimeter coils for added support and offers its patented Quatrocoil configuration—clusters of four coils designed to prevent comfort layers from falling between coils. The company recently introduced the Microcoil, a comfort layer for pillowtop mattresses. Starsprings focused on the bed’s comfort layers with its introduction of 5.1-inch springs compressed into 2.17-inch pockets and 4-inch springs compressed to 1.18 inches. Coils in the top comfort layers are do-able in mattresses with retail prices of $899 and up in queen size, Hurst says. “It’s fun—the different things you can do in a box top and pillowtop that you couldn’t do before. It’s a completely different feel.” German springs manufacturer Agro International GmbH & Co. KG recently sponsored a study by the Ergonomie Institute Munchen www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS
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THE COVER STORY the inside story
Foam from page 16 company has stepped up its production of 100% natural Talalay for use as cores and comfort layers. Adding renewable content Research and development among foam suppliers is leading the pack in a quest for new ways to be “green” in mattresses. Many foam suppliers are creating a green story by adding a percentage of renewable content to some foam formulas. Instead of being 100% petroleum-based, these new foams contain a percentage of plant-based polyols. Almost any plant or animal oil—soy, castor, canola, rapeseed, sunflower, palm, even fish—can be formulated into a polyol for use in foam production. The current ingredient of choice in North and South America is soybean oil. Percentages of bio-based polyols in a given foam range from 5% to 20%. Currently, anything above 20%
Springs from page 18 GmbH in Munich, which found that pocketed springs alone—without additional comfort layers or even ticking—provide the best ergonomic support and pressure-point relief when compared to other types of mattress configurations. The fabric used to encase the springs can make a difference. Most pocket fabric is a nonwoven polyester/polypropylene blend. Variations in the fabric’s weight, fiber blend, seals and seams all impact the feel of the spring unit. Agro recently introduced a lightweight, silky pocket material that it says improves contouring to the body’s shape. Other companies, like
20 SleepSavvy • October 2009
degrades the quality and performance of the polyurethane, suppliers say. Companies are still working out the best ways to promote and talk about these new foams. Part of the problem is a current lack of definitions and guidelines for “green” within the furniture and bedding industries. In addition, suppliers may not specify exact percentages of bio-based content. Multinational companies like Bayer and Cargill are ramping up production of natural polyols to supply foam producers. Cargill introduced mostly soy-based BiOH Polyols in 2005 and opened its first North American polyols manufacturing facility last year. “We’ve made significant strides to get to 20% renewable content in flexible foams—and our goal is to one day replace 100% of petroleum-based content. We’re working with our manufacturers to test new products and looking at a variety of materials and feedstocks,” says Jessica Koster,
BiOH Polyols marketing manager. Hickory Springs, which participated in the development of BiOH Polyols, was the first adopter of the ingredient, incorporating it into its Preserve line of foams—the first bio-based foam in the U.S., according to Duncan. “It’s environmentally responsible and there’s no denying the feel-good factor for consumers,” he says. “The product started taking off about a year ago, first in contract-type products, especially boutique hotels, and now it’s everywhere.” Two years ago, Ohio-based Flexible Foam introduced BioFlex Hybrid Foams and it now uses a percentage of BiOH Polyols in its entire product line, says Michael Crowell, vice president of marketing. “We use different percentages for different foam types. The lower density foams cannot use as much; the higher densities take more. We’re working with Cargill to incorporate even more.” ●
Texas Pocket Springs, are examining various natural fibers as an alternative to synthetic nonwoven pockets.
ers, it’s more and more important to tell that ‘green’ story. Anyone marketing innersprings can beat that sustainability drum.” Innerspring manufacturers also recycle all of their own production waste. “We collect and sell to recyclers all steel scrap generated during our manufacturing processes,” says Bush. “None is wasted.” ●
Steel’s ‘green’ story Foam doesn’t have a lock on the green market—a large percentage of the steel used in the manufacture of innersprings is recycled scrap. Depending on exactly where the steel is made, the recycled content of spring units ranges from 50% to 90%. Important sources of scrap steel are junked cars and large appliances. The recycled content of innersprings is a little-known fact that can have particular resonance with today’s consumer, says Quinn. “In marketing innersprings to consum-
This feature is adapted from a story that originally ran in the July 2009 BedTimes, Sleep Savvy’s sister magazine for mattress manufacturers. For a glossary of key foam and innerspring terms, see page 22.
THE COVER STORY the inside story
Glossary of key terms If you’re not quite sure what all of the mattress industry terms for foam and springs really mean, here are some definitions.
LFK. An unknotted offset coil with a cylindrical or columnar shape. An LFK innerspring unit is generally high coil count and uses high/thinner gauge wire. Memory foam. See visco-elastic.
Bio-based foam. A flexible foam in which a portion of the petroleum-derived polyols has been replaced by plantbased oils such as soy, castor, canola, rapeseed, sunflower or palm. This content typically ranges from 5% to 20% of the total polyols in the foam.
Offset coils. A coil design on which portions of the top and bottom convolutions have been flattened to facilitate hinging action between coils. Offset coils with unknotted wire at the top and bottom are called “open offset.”
Bonnell. A knotted, round-top, hourglass-shaped steel wire coil. When laced together with cross-wire helicals, these coils form the most basic innerspring unit. The finished unit is also referred to as a Bonnell.
Pocket coil. A type of innerspring construction in which thin gauge, knotless coils are encased in fabric pockets. Also known as Marshall coils.
Coil count. The number of coils in an innerspring unit. When specifying an innerspring unit, the coil count is usually designated by the number of coils in a full-size unit of that model or series. Example: a “312 Bonnell” innerspring has 312 coils in the full-size and proportionately larger numbers in the queen and king. Continuous coils. An innerspring configuration in which the rows of coils are formed from a single, continuous piece of wire. Convoluted foam. Foam that is specially cut to produce a surface with dimples, available in a variety of shapes including egg carton-like designs, waves, squares or sharply defined points. Density. A measurement of the mass per unit volume, measured and expressed in pounds per cubic foot (pcf) or kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m3). Foams are most often discussed in terms of their density. Helical. A tightly coiled, elongated wire used to join individual coils to each other in an innerspring unit. Hourglass coils. Coils that taper inward from top to middle and outward from middle to bottom, resembling an hourglass in shape. They are typically employed in Bonnell and offset coil designs. Latex foam. A flexible foam created from a water dispersion of rubber, either from the rubber tree (natural latex) or a manufactured product (synthetic latex) or a combination of the two. Latex foams are not chemically related to polyurethanes.
22 SleepSavvy • October 2009
Resilience. An indicator of the surface elasticity or “springiness” of foam, measured by dropping a steel ball onto a foam cushion and measuring how high the ball rebounds. Wire gauge. The diameter of the high-carbon steel wire that is used in innerspring constructions. Wire is typically furnished in 12.5 to 18 gauge for bedding industry applications. The higher the gauge, the thinner the wire. Tempered steel. Steel for use in coil springs is treated with heat to reduce brittleness, a process employing electric charge, oven heat or both. The finished innerspring unit is also heat-tempered, or “stress relieved,” to restore original coil characteristics after assembly. Urethane. A common term for polyurethane foam but actually a misnomer. Urethane is colorless, crystalline substance used primarily in medicines, pesticides and fungicides, not in the production of polyurethane foams. Visco-elastic foam. Slow recovery polyurethane foams that are temperature-sensitive. They conform to body shape and, by doing so, increase the amount of surface area, reducing surface pressure. Also known as “memory foam.” Sources: The Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA), www.pfa.org American Innerspring Manufacturers (AIM), www.aiminfo.org The International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), www.sleepproducts.org
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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Bedzzz Express Alabama chain undergoes ‘extreme makeover’ to total concept selling By Nancy Butler Photography by Melissa Wertz
Bedzzz Express President Keith Krininger
hings have changed at Birmingham, AL-based Bedzzz Express. The signage, store decor, logo, product line and selling philosophy are all different than they were eight months ago. While other retailers have been struggling just to maintain the status quo, Bedzzz Express President Keith Krininger decided it was time to make some changes in his 15-year-old, multi-store company. So, when major industry supplier Leggett & Platt called to invite Keith to be its partner in an “Extreme Retail Makeover” this spring, he was ready. At the heart of the transformation was a fundamental shift in focus. “We needed to stop talking about price, brand and specs and start talking about the benefits of a good night’s sleep,” says Keith. To support the new health and lifestyle-focused approach, Bedzzz Express implemented a total concept accessories program from Leggett’s Consumer Products Group and overhauled the product presentation, pairing the accessories with mattresses from Simmons, Tempur-Pedic, Serta and regional independent Southerland. So, how’s it going? “We’re really reaping the benefits of aggressive new merchandising. June was our best month in history— July and August were good, too,” says Keith, “I think we’re one of the few retailers in this economy that’s growing.” SleepSavvy • October 2009
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
The new Sherman’s store in Peru, IL
Store walls were repainted in teal, brown and gold—and zzz’s were given a starring role.
Keith Krininger learned the furniture business from the ground up. He began by working nights as a stock boy in a furniture store while in high school, then as a full-time sales associate for 10 years. He spent the next 10 as a rep for Serta, where he watched the growing success of mattress specialty stores. In January 1995, he launched the first four Bedzzz Express stores from scratch—an ambitious start he would not recommend to others: Two closed, one moved, one is still in the same location. Fifteen years later, Keith owns eight Bedzzz Express stores in the Birmingham area, plus nine Mattress Warehouse stores that he acquired. He also has 13 licensed
26 SleepSavvy • October 2009
Bedzzz Express stores, owned by three licensees, in other Alabama cities. The Bedzzz Express in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, is the flagship store, drawing traffic from its busy shopping mall location. That’s where the initial makeover took place. Setting the stage When Keith started Bedzzz Express, the focus was on low-end price points. That changed during a booming economy, when the bestsellers were $899 to $999. But when recession shoppers made it clear they were looking for extra value, he remerchandised to put more emphasis on models below $899. “We went to our vendors for more
value at $499 to $699,” Keith says. “Now we have the best beds I’ve seen in years at those price points.” Like many business owners, Keith found that the tough economy prompted a rethinking of how they were doing things. When Leggett’s Mark Quinn, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the bedding group, called in the spring, “It came at a time when we were already in the process of redefining ourselves as a company,” he says. Leggett’s Consumer Products Group was looking for a retail partner to showcase and fine-tune its new Leggett & Platt Retail Solution, a set of tools that includes point-ofpurchase systems, marketing materials, sales training and performance management systems. When the Leggett team arrived, they began with lots of meetings to discuss “what, how and why we did what we did” in the Bedzzz Express stores, then rolled up their sleeves to make changes that would be profitable for both companies. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
They decided to put the emphasis on the Bedzzz Express brand rather than the mattress brands. The logo was spruced up, changing it from all capital letters to lower case for a softer look. The zzz’s now float up into a cloud and a tag line, “Where dreams begin”, is added in some applications. The zzz’s also became a key visual elsewhere, in clear acrylic wall banners stenciled with zzz’s, even in bedside tables in the shape of a Z. Store walls were repainted in stylish, updated shades of brown, teal and gold. A new desk, new fixtures and new lamps were added. “We changed the entire look,” Keith says. Much of the branded signage and POP was replaced with the store’s own lifestyle signs, banners and brochures showing active, happy people and featuring individual messages about the importance of sleep. Among the messages are several based on research conducted at Oklahoma State University* that showed sleeping on a new mattress can improve sleep quality by 62% and back pain by more than 50%. “We’re focusing on the facts about sleep and telling customers that the right mattress can improve your life,” Keith says. “That makes us stand out from the guy down the street who’s talking about 80% off and free financing.” “I’m not saying that we don’t talk about those things, because we
have to,” he says. “But we also talk to the customer about what’s really important.” How did you sleep? The new selling process at Bedzzz Express doesn’t open with the typical “what size, what comfort” questions. “We start by asking ‘How did you sleep last night?’ so they’ll open up and tell us what’s wrong with the bed they’re on now and what they need,” Keith says. The RSA starts the customer at a three-bed display arranged around lighted pillars showcasing accessories from Leggett’s Home Collection. The display includes three mattresses, three adjustable bed bases, three fashion frames, four pillows, two sheet sets, a mattress protector and a pillow protector. First, the RSA helps the customer pick a pillow based on her sleep position. The choices include memory foam, down and gel styles at premium price points of $59 to $99—Keith notes that “We may need to put one in at a price that you can sell to everybody.” The customer slips a fresh, disposable pillowcase on the pillow and carries it with her throughout the presentation. All three mattresses are at the $999 price point, shown in firm, plush and pillowtop. “We set it up so that the customer can really tell the difference in comfort level,” says Keith. “From there, we can go higher or lower in price.” Every model in the store sports a color-
*For more on the Oklahoma State University research, go to www.sleepsavvymagazine.com/editorial/documents/OSUfactsheet.pdf. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Customers begin at a three-bed display that incorporates key accessories.
coded price tag indicating its comfort level so customers can easily identify which will suit them best based on the initial comfort test. Each of the three mattresses is on an adjustable base—showing a choice of good/better/best. And every mattress on the floor that’s adjustable-friendly also has a tag that says “I’m adjustable.” Getting accessories right Bedzzz Express already carried a number of accessory items, but from different vendors. Now they’re all from a single source, which makes it easier. “Accessories can be hard,” says Keith. “It’s a big commitment to stock them. And you’d better do it right.” Sales training is key, Keith stresses, and he credits Leggett with doing a terrific job. The adjustable base category is doing exceptionally well, mainly due to the way it’s SleepSavvy • October 2009
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
presented, he says. After the customer and RSA have identified a mattress at the right comfort level and right price, they pick out what goes under it. The RSA explains that there are three styles of adjustable bases: regular, low profile and “power base.” “Customers always want to
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know what that is,” says Keith. So they return to the original three-bed display. Bedzzz Express associates are coached to explain the benefits of raising the head and feet and to talk about the lifestyle benefits, as well as the health benefits. Once the cus-
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tomer has her head and feet in the position she likes best, the RSA turns on the massage—“They love that,” says Keith. The RSA then returns the bed to its flat, fully off position— “Customers can really feel the difference.” At first, the RSAs were overwhelmed with the new way of selling adjustables, but found that they could “easily step customers up from good to better and persuade customers who buy top-of-the line mattresses to buy top-of-the line frames,” Keith says. “They can’t believe how many they can sell to customers who would never even have considered it before,” he adds. Competitive scorecards for RSAs have also generated new energy. As a result, “Adjustable sales are 10 times what they used to be and we’ve had a huge increase in dollars.”
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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Tweaking the program After the customer has selected her mattress and base—and bonded with her pillow—the RSA reminds her that she’ll want to invest in protecting her new mattress and pillow by purchasing protective covers for both. And finally, says the RSA, “You don’t need to go shopping around for new sheets. You can get them right here!” Sheets, says Keith, is the accessories category that’s probably the toughest for mattress retailers, and he’s continuing to work with Leggett to tweak the program. Currently, he’s carrying a 310-thread-count set in white or cream at $79 (queen) and a 750thread-count set in cream at $179. “Sheets aren’t easy to understand— for us or our customers. You can’t just judge quality by thread count. You also have to know the content
and how it’s woven,” he says. “Your salespeople have to have enough knowledge and confidence to say ‘These are the best sheets in town’ just the way they do with the mattresses they sell.” But he’s convinced that mattress retailers can be successful with sheets if they’ve got a good line, good training and are price-competitive with stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond. Triple Zzz Guarantee Once customers have made their purchase, they’re covered by a strong, store-backed guarantee program. A prominent overhead banner proclaims: “Rest assured with our exclusive Triple Zzz Guarantee”: ● One-year comfort guarantee ● 90-day lower price guarantee (a refund at 115% of the difference)
● Five-year extended warranty (same as the manufacturer’s warranty on mattresses $899 and up). This aggressive program was already among Keith’s plans, but was implemented as part of the makeover. These days, a strong guarantee can make a really big difference in where the consumer chooses to buy, he says. Since the initial makeover, the rest of the Birmingham Bedzzz Express stores have been undergoing the same transition. It will also become part of the licensing program going forward, says Keith, adding that he’s on the lookout for licensees to grow the company. But they need not be mattress people. “None of my licensees ever sold a mattress before,” he says. “They were just good businesspeople looking for a good investment.” ●
SleepSavvy • October 2009
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CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer
Advertisers and consumers weigh in on ad effectiveness
dvertisers spend a lot of time and money creating and placing ads they think are effective. But consumers reached by these ads don’t necessarily agree, according to the results of a recent LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll. The online poll surveyed 2,025 adult consumers and 1,015 ad agency or corporation executives who are involved in the advertising decision-making process. This was the first survey in a new partnership between Harris Interactive and LinkedIn. Which ads are effective? When the poll explored the effectiveness of different types of ads, advertisers and consumers agreed in some cases but not in others. ● While more than half of advertisers (53%) believe ads that make people stop and think are effective, just three in 10 consumers (30%) agree. ● Half of advertisers think that ads that give people new information (51%) are very effective, but just 29% of consumers think so. ● One-quarter of advertisers (26%) think ads that are integrated into the feel of the program— with the same tone as the program it is based on—are very effective, compared to just 7% of consumers. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
● Nearly a quarter of advertisers (24%) say that ads portraying a “before and after” scenario are very effective, but only 13% of consumers agree. ● One in five advertisers (21%) say ads that reinforce a message that’s already known are very effective, compared to 10% of consumers. ● Consumers and advertisers both like ads that are amusing—34% of consumers and 41% of advertisers say entertaining ads are very effective, and one-third of both consumers (33%) and advertisers (32%) say funny ads are very effective. But the findings sound a cautionary note: Just one in 10 consumers (11%) and 14% of advertisers say ads that don’t take themselves seriously are effective. In fact, almost one in five consumers (18%) say these ads are not at all effective.
● Consumers and advertisers both think that scary ads don’t work— two in five consumers (41%) and one-third of advertisers (32%) believe that scary ads are not at all effective. In addition, over one-quarter of consumers (27%) and 18% of advertisers say ads about a serious topic that make people feel slightly guilty are not at all effective. Ads for a bad economy? Advertisers are using a variety of strategies to address the economic situation, but which ones are working with consumers? ● Three in five advertisers (61%) say they are using a value-proposition strategy—promoting sales, coupons and discounts—and almost three in five consumers (57%) say this strategy is working well or very well to persuade them to buy products and services. ● Two in five advertisers (39%) are using empathy—contending that the companies understand what consumers are going through. But only one-quarter of consumers (24%) say empathy works very or somewhat
SleepSavvy • October 2009
profiling your customer well and one-third (33%) say it does not work at all. ● One-quarter of advertisers (25%) say they are using cheerleading— “We’ve made it through tough times before, we’ll do it again and we can help you do it.” Almost two in five consumers (38%), however, say that these types of ads do not work at all. ● One strategy that advertisers may want to use more is “luxuries for less.” While fewer than one in five advertisers (18%) say they are using this approach, one-third of consumers (34%) say these types of ads work well or very well in selling products or services. ● There is a generational divide among consumers, with those in the 18-34 age group more likely to say
32 SleepSavvy • October 2009
each of these four strategies works well or very well. In particular, more than half of 18-34 year olds (51%) say “luxuries for less” works very well or well, compared to just 19% of those 55 and older. Money talks Advertisers and their target audiences see the world differently, but the LinkedIn/Harris Poll suggests something of a convergence, according to Marianne Foley, senior vice president, strategic initiatives at Harris Interactive. “While the order of magnitude differs, advertisers and their audiences tend to agree on what is most effective and what is least effective.” But the most important finding is that in this current economic
environment, messages that talk money are of paramount interest to consumers, Foley stresses. Clearly, emphasizing value propositions or “luxuries for less” appeal to consumers more than empathy and cheerleading—themes that advertisers say they are using. “This is an incredibly valuable piece of information for advertisers to know right now,” Foley says. ● Harris Interactive is a leader in custom market research worldwide. For more information, visit www.harrisinteractive.com. LinkedIn is the world’s largest business network with more than 40 million professionals on board. Visit www.linkedin.com.
seen & heard in Vegas Value pricing top story at Vegas Market By Barbara Nelles
raffic at last month’s Las Vegas Market appeared lighter than at past shows, and major introductions were few. But bedding manufacturers managed to turn retailer heads with a selection of new products that combine deluxe features with value pricing. The “green” story of the February market took a back seat to special price promotions at this market. But green was not gone—it was much in evidence in natural latex, polyurethane foams with bio-based content, sustainable wood frames and organic fibers. The overall mood among manufacturers was one of resolve and cautious hopefulness. “We saw it as a very positive sign that so many licensees had a good Labor Day,” said Ron Passaglia, president and CEO of Restonic. “I foresee jagged improvements throughout 2010 and expect to see solid improvement by 2011.” “I believe consumers with means are finally coming out of their shells,” said Earl Kluft, president of E.S. Kluft & Co. “They are finally beginning to spend again.” Interestingly, several mattress makers said they planned on showing again at the High Point Home Furnishings Market in addition to Las Vegas. Some are finding that the Las Vegas Market attracts West Coast, Midwestern and international customers, but fewer from the East and Southeast. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Serta’s new Trump Home collection offers the luxury lifestyle at surprisingly affordable retails of $799 to $1,499 queen.
Comfort Touch by Therapedic, shown by Stylution CEO Ed Scott–the group’s China licensee–offers luxury features at a starting retail of $599 queen.
Good buys greet market-goers Mattress makers put significant emphasis on building more value into their lineups to help retailers bring new energy to sluggish sales. Suggested retail pricing on what was once considered ultra-premium bedding was often in the premium range, and so on down the line. The new Spring Air International made its Las Vegas debut, presenting retailers with special market-only pricing on its reformulated flagship brands: Back Supporter and Chattam & Wells. “We are positioning ourselves as ‘the value S brand’,” said Rick Robinson, president. “Without the debt burden of the old company, our individual licensees are able to offer retailers fine craftsmanship at incredible values.” SleepSavvy • October 2009
seen & heard in Vegas The Back Supporter Value Collection with LFK innerspring and foam comfort layers has suggested retails of $399 to $599 for a queen set. The foam-encased Total Balance collection ranges from $599 to $999 in queen, with damask or knit covers. The Four Seasons retails for $999 to $1,999 and has a pocket-coil spring unit and premium comfort layers, including cashmere. Spring Air’s ultra-premium Chattam & Wells line has been repositioned as “more affordable luxury.” Its new opening retail price point in queen is $1,599—instead of its former $2,100—and the line tops out at $2,999—instead of $4,999. At Eclipse, Perfection Rest offered the look of luxury with an opening price point of $599 retail for a queen set. Its Zoned Quilt Technology features a 20-inch wide, memory foamquilted lumbar region that “visibly reinforces the patented Spinal Sleep Zone System and reduces any chance of body impressions,” said Stuart Carlitz, president.
Running against the lower-price tide, Sealy debuted the Heritage Series at the upper price points, said Mark Delahanty, VP of Sealy Brands.
Affordable luxury was the message behind Serta’s rollout of its Trump Home mattress collection. Inspired by the over-the-top lifestyle of billionaire developer Donald Trump, the beds offer ultra-premium gilt and damask eye appeal at a surprising $799 to $1,499 retail price point in queen.
“There are unique components in every model and the price hits a sweet spot,” said Serta President Bob Sherman. “Consumers we interviewed can’t believe these beds are not more expensive.” Luxury mattress maker E.S. Kluft & Co. introduced the lower-priced Halstead by Aireloom line, replacing the Studio collection introduced in February. There are four collections within Halstead at retail price points from $799 to $1,999 in queen. The two top beds in the line are foamencased, with specialty foam comfort layers. Organic Mattresses Inc., which made its Las Vegas debut in February, introduced the OrganicPedic Sierra bed, an 8-inch thick, two-sided natural latex mattress retailing for $1,595 for the queen mattress or $1,995 for the set. “It’s $800 less than any other natural latex mattress out there,” said Walt Bader, president and CEO, adding, “We like to say we’re the purest organic mattress in the Milky Way.”
Comfort Solutions scores with heavy customers
omfort Solutions’ eXtended and ‘overweight.’ Our POP is more Life mattress—designed discreet, too.” to accommodate heavier “Many overweight consumers bodies—is really resonating with have been burned by a bad experiretailers and consumers, according ence with expensive pillowtops to Owen Shoemaker, senior vice and body impressions. They are president of product development. convinced that they must purchase The company introduced the extraa hard or firm bed,” he explained. sturdy line in February and has “They have to be educated that a fine-tuned its retail training prosupportive bed can be comfortable gram to help RSAs be sensitive to as well.” overweight customers when talking A new XL plush version introabout the benefits. duced at this market incorporates “We train RSAs to ask quesprogressive-resistance latex in the Owen Shoemaker with Comfort Solutions’ tions like ‘what happened to the eXtended Life, built for customers that need upholstery for added comfort. A last bed you slept on?’ If it broke, second new XL model features a extra support for plus-sized bodies. then we know there is a problem to temperature-regulating cover that address,” said Shoemaker. “We’ve also come up with a mitigates body heat. The new models are expected to series of tactful phrases to use when describing ‘heavy,’ retail between $2,199 and $2,499 in queen.
34 SleepSavvy • October 2009
seen & heard in Vegas
At E.S. Kluft, the repriced Aireloom line sported a new ‘Streamline’ euro-top without the extra tape edge.
Simmons added three new beds priced at $1,599 to $1,999 in queen to its Beautyrest Exceptionale collection. Each bed features “lots of little deluxe touches,” said Brand Director Rolf Sannes, including “tactile borders, suedes and beautiful color palettes. We also reduced 30% of the weight of our coil-on-coil construction.” Therapedic introduced Innergy 2, a group of six two-sided innerspring beds with suggested retails from $699 to $1,199 queen. The licensing group also launched a high-value import program from China, the sixbed Comfort Touch by Therapedic. The hybrid beds feature pressurerelieving foams, micro-pocket coils over foam cores and spacer fabrics. Retail prices in queen range from $599 to $1,099. Gold Bond added new models to its Anniversary Series of two-sided mattresses, which are covered with Belgian damask fabrics. Prices for the collection range from $599 to $999 in queen sizes. “One of the benefits of having a company founder—my dad—who grew up during the Depression is we’ve always understood the importance of operating debt-free and offering strong value,” said Bob www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Restonic’s Ron Passaglia put the spotlight on the 7th Heaven Bed collection, at $1,299 to $1,499 retail (queen).
Naboicheck, Gold Bond president. “Our two-sided mattresses hit the right price point and consumers get twice as much bedding for their money.” Restonic’s new 7th Heaven Bed offers “true luxury” at a value price point, said Ron Passaglia. The three foam-encased beds with micro-coil comfort layers start at $1,299 queen, in firm or plush, and step up to the 7th Heaven Ultra Euro Top, retailing at $1,499 queen. The line was named in honor of Restonic’s seventh Consumers Digest Best Buy award. Sealy, which redesigned and repriced its Stearns & Foster brand in February, went against the tide of lower-priced offerings by introducing three Heritage Series beds at upper price points. The beds feature New Zealand and Dutch wool, handtufting, woven jacquard ticking and embossed metal corner guards, at suggested retails of $2,999, $3,499 and $3,999 in queen. Overall, there was a noticeable move away from ubiquitous knit covers and back toward the classic look of woven damask ticking, especially at the upper end. And mattress edge treatments are sporting new variations. Box tops morphed into “waterfall” tops and “drop-top pil-
lowtops.” E.S. Kluft’s Aireloom beds sported a new “Streamline” edge detail—a euro-top without the extra tape edge. “Dual comfort” floor models were shown in several lines, including Serta’s new Trump Home collection, Simmons’ ComforPedic Loft and some E.S. Kluft beds. The models allow retailers to display fewer SKUs and make it easier for consumers to compare different comfort levels, manufacturers said. Foam beds with new bounce Many mattress makers touted their next-generation memory foams, said to offer improved air flow and faster recovery. A good number of manufacturers also said they are using visco-elastic foams with a portion of eco-friendly, bio-based content. Simmons put the spotlight on ComforPedic Loft, a value-priced extension of its ComforPedic foam bed, featuring trademarked NxG Memory Foam. “Our research showed that 70% of consumers say they plan on buying a memory foam mattress in the future,” said Anne Kozel, specialty sleep brand director. The four beds will retail between $1,000 and $2,000 in queen. Also new in foam beds was SleepSavvy • October 2009
seen & heard in Vegas
Kurt Ling’s new ‘virtual mattress company’, Pure LatexBLISS, made its Vegas debut with four collections, featuring Talalay latex and pocket coils.
Simmons’ Anne Kozel shows off the new ComforPedic Loft line, offering visco-elastic foam at affordable retails from $1,000 to $2,000 queen.
Dormia’s Natural Mattress, a latex core with wool and an organic cotton cover. At $1,995 for a queen set, its retail price is slightly higher than the rest of the brand’s beds. “You lose sales if you don’t have an affordable foam line to step up consumers from an innerspring,” said Mike Zippelli, CEO. Ecomfort Mattress, an Anatomic Global brand, rolled out a nextgeneration memory foam called EcoMemoryFoam, with five beds at suggested retails of $999 to $1,999 in queen. The new foam is an “extreme open-cell” formula that “does not retain heat,” said President and CEO David Farley. Each bed features convolutions and “cleaves” to maximize elasticity and temperature regulation. Tempur-Pedic introduced a plusher
Hollywood star Jane Seymour was on hand for the debut of South Bay International’s Jane Seymour Designs collection of specialty foam beds topping out at $1,999 retail in queen.
36 SleepSavvy • October 2009
version of its memory foam—called Tempur ES—in its new TempurCloud Supreme bed, which retails for $2,399 in queen. The Tempur-Cloud, which will retail for $1,899, is slated for introduction at the February Las Vegas Market; other Tempur ES models will follow. Mike Mason, director of brand development and integration, said the Tempur-Cloud collection will help the company reach a new audience— sleepers who prefer a plush sleep surface. The product rollout is being supported with a broad-based traditional and social media marketing campaign that will feature real Tempur-Pedic mattress owners. New mattress company Pure LatexBLISS made its Vegas debut with four collections of mattresses in Talalay latex and latex plus foamencased pocket coils. The one-sided beds have foam cores in thicknesses of 6 inches to 11 inches, with zippered knit covers. CEO Kurt Ling describes his new venture as a “virtual mattress company”—it has no corporate offices or manufacturing facilities, and outsources assembly functions to contractors. Its mission is to deliver excellent value in ultra-premium latex beds, said Kurt Ling. “We don’t offer suggested retail prices—our proposition to retailers is that three-stone is the new keystone.” South Bay International unveiled a three-bed Jane Seymour Designs collection—the Hollywood star, best known for her role in TV’s Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, was at market for the debut. The specialty foam beds top out at $1,999 in queen. Sedona Comfort, making its first appearance in Las Vegas, uses proprietary visco-elastic foams with biobased content called “PUR memory material,” incorporating a plant-based polyol that leaves a smaller carbon footprint than soy-based polyols, said Guy Sasso, director of sales. Beds www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
seen & heard in Vegas retail for $1,100 to $3,300 in queen. At the Zedbed showroom, the spotlight was on the ZCloud series introduced earlier this year. The beds are made in Canada with proprietary ZX pressure-relief material, a viscoelastic foam with bio-based content that “reacts like latex,” said Zedbed customer service representative Josee Lebel. Suggested retails are $1,799 to $2,199 in queen. Italian manufacturer Magniflex turned to color and playful imagery in its new Lamborghini bed—“Every person buys first with their eyes,” said Sales Director Mario Magni. Despite the luxury image, the queen-sized foam mattress retails for $1,300. Magniflex also introduced a lavender-scented memory foam mattress with a different comfort level on each side. The zippered cover, infused with essential oil, is guaranteed to retain its lavender scent for up to 20 machine washings. The mattress retails for $1,100 in queen and can be shipped vacuum packed. Glideaway Sleep Products added three innerspring beds with latex to its year-old Sleep Harmony mattress collection. Natural Rest by Sleep Harmony retails for $799, $1,199 and $1,499 in queen. Hollandia has expanded its 3D Collection, introduced at the last market, with a new frame upholstered in its unique three-dimensional fabric, retailing at $2,600 in queen. The collection’s Talalay latex mattress features a breathable 3D comfort layer and a 3D fabric cover—both washable with soap and water, noted Maya Ben, vice president of operations. Cranking down adjustable prices In efforts to make it easier for retailers to step consumers up to an adjustable bed, a number of manufacturers introduced more affordable motion bases. An adjustable base should be part of every sales pitch when selling an www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Natura dives into gel category
eteran natural and organic mattress manufacturer Natura World ventured into the gel bed category for the first time at the Vegas market. Earlier this year, Natura purchased Utahbased NexGel and the right to manufacture and license its gel tech- Natura’s purchase of Utah-based NexGel put them in the nology. gel bed business, at retails of $1,399 to $3,999 queen. Four gel bed models were on display in Natura’s Vegas showroom, with retail price points ranging from $1,399 to $3,999 for a queen set. The beds are constructed of single or double layers of gel in the comfort layers as well as a variety of other components, including Talalay latex and pocket coils. Gel beds have exceptional pressure-relieving characteristics—more than specialty foams—said President Ralph Rossdeutscher. The Canadian company plans to manufacture gel beds in the U.S. under the name Gel Solutions and in Canada as Gelatex Solutions.
adjustable-compatible bed such as ComforPedic Loft, said Simmons’ Anne Kozel. Targeting Internet merchants, Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group launched ShipShape, a UPSable, lightweight and easy-to-assemble base with a price point of $800
in queen. “In the last few years, we’ve seen a shift toward younger people buying adjustable beds—60% of purchasers are under 65,” said Herman Tam, group vice president of sales and marketing. “People spend more time in the bedroom—they’re bonding with
Reverie’s Patti Ark showed off the company’s new American-made adjustable base, The Wizard, with head-up-only functionality, at $499 retail in twin. SleepSavvy • October 2009
seen & heard in Vegas their families there, talking, working, watching television.” Reverie, which imports private-label and Reverie-branded goods from Taiwan, introduced a U.S.-made, head-up-only adjustable base called The Wizard, with a suggested retail of $499 for a twin. “Our hope is to put an adjustable base under every mattress,” said U.S. General Manager Patti Ark. “Our tag line is ‘the world’s first adjustable base at a flat foundation price’.” Ergomotion also unveiled a more affordable adjustable base. The Series 100 twin bed base retails for about $499. It has the visual appeal and functionality of more expensive bases, said Kelly Clenet, president. Set-up time is minimal and no tools are needed, which really resonates well with retailers, he added. Top-of-bed in the spotlight Top-of-bed introductions and accessories line expansions were definite headliners in Las Vegas, with pillows in the starring role. At Englander, which is now partnering with T3 Recovery Products for the manufacture and marketing of its three-model Ironman mattress line, the spotlight was on the companion T3 pillow line. The latex pillows are filled with pillow-maker Perfect Fit’s “latex oodles” mixed with fiber and, like the T3 mattresses, are covered with a Celliant fabric. South Bay International paired its new Jane Seymour Designs mattress collection with matching pillows in two styles. Featuring ventilated and perforated 5-pound visco-elastic, they carry a suggested retail of about $70. Glideaway added nine new pillows under its Sleep Harmony brand. Offerings include a value visco-elastic contour pillow, a highloft fiber pillow and a ventilated memory-foam pillow with a bamboo knit cover, at a wide range of retails from $9.95 to $99.95.
38 SleepSavvy • October 2009
Latex International’s new Pillows for the Body line offers luxury mattress toppers at retail prices between $299 and $499 in queen and king.
Sedona Comfort showed three pillow profiles, including the contoured Synergy3 Zone Pillow which “satisfies every sleep position,” said Gary Sasso. Retail prices range from $75 to $120. A $2,000 pillow order from Dormia qualifies retailers for a free display unit, newly created to help them sell more pillows. “When a consumer leaves with a pillow under their arm, there is less buyer’s remorse and fewer order cancellations,” noted Mike Zipelli. Latex International introduced its Pillows for the Body, a line of luxury mattress toppers in latex and temperature-regulating Celsion latex, with retails between $299 and $499 in queen and king sizes, said Kevin Stein, vice president of marketing and R&D. The toppers are available in 2 inches or 3 inches thick and in two firmnesses. Pure LatexBLISS paired its new latex bed line with an “outboarded pillowtop,” a separate mattress topper available in five densities and wholesaling for about $150 in queen. “These are all the rage in Europe,” said Kurt Ling. “You can buy one and use it with our beds, or not. It’s a firmer bed without it.” Denis Bramwell, sales manager at top-of-bed supplier Gotcha Covered, said every retailer needs a good-betterbest sheets program. “We try to educate retailers about the psychology behind the category,” he said. “Every
mattress sale is going to generate a sheet sale because putting old sheets on a new bed feels like putting on dirty clothes.” The growing bed bug problem is proving a boon for mattress protection sales—already a growing category in the wake of concerns about allergens and mattress warranties. “For the last two years, our main push has been on our bed bug product,” said Sidney Stern, vice president of Protect-A-Bed. “We consider ourselves a health solution company, not a warranty company.” The company’s AllerZip, with a patented zipper locking system, retails for $129 in a queen cover. It’s selling well at the big retail chains as well as pest control companies that use the encasement after treating a home for bed bugs. FabricTech International has taken its operations to “the next level,” increasing its sales force and redesigning its point-of-purchase and packaging to open more than 1,000 retail doors, according to Arnold Hershbain, chairman and CEO. In addition to its bed bug-proof Total Encasement mattress and pillow protectors, the company now offers an organic cotton line that retails for $149 in a queen cover; pillow covers are $39. Also new are StainGuard quilted mattress covers, retailing for $59, and pillows covers retailing for $19. ● www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris
Experience and expectations: Where do I start?
ith so many brands, types, styles and comfort levels of mattresses available, this question is not only asked by consumers, but by many sales associates as well. Consumers often feel confused and frustrated, while RSAs often develop comfort zones by getting in the habit of showing and selling the same few beds. So where do you start? What models should you show shoppers? There are many approaches that have been developed over the years, including “start at the top” or “comfort selling”—start by showing examples of firm and soft to help narrow down the choices. The problem with these approaches is that they can make it easy for RSAs to get into a rut by doing the same thing over and over. Their presentations can become stale and sound like a canned pitch to the customer. Every shopper is unique. Using the exact same approach on each one simply is not the most effective method. Consumers don’t want to feel like they’re being sold or like they’ve been run through the mill. Here is an approach that will not only keep your presentation fresh and unique, but will also help you gather the necessary information to find the right bed for each customer—and greatly reduce the likelihood of comfort returns. What is her experience? Instead of asking what type of feel or firmness your shopper is seeking, start by helping her find a mattress that is most similar to the one she’s replacing—not by brand, but by style and comfort level.
40 SleepSavvy • October 2009
Ask questions to find out what her experiences have been: ● “How long have you had your current mattress?” ● “Did you sleep well on it for the first few years?” ● “Have you ever slept on a different comfort level and, if so, did you sleep well on it?” ● “Have you had any backaches or sore shoulders?” Like the old adage “Don’t fix what’s not broken,” if your customer had a positive experience on her current mattress before it wore out, it’s probably a good idea to recommend that she select the same style and a similar comfort level. But to make sure, it’s also a good idea to show her the other styles and comfort levels to allow her the opportunity for comparison. What are her expectations? Switching styles and comfort levels without addressing expectations is one of the biggest culprits behind customer dissatisfaction. Always make sure to ask your customer what her expectations are. Ask if she’s aware of adjustment periods. If her expectation is that
she will sleep well from the very first night, she’s likely to be disappointed. Customers need to understand that it can take time for them to adjust to a new mattress. A minimum of 30 days is recommended. Here are some other questions you might ask to determine customer expectations: ● “How long do you expect a new mattress to last?” Most people think warranty life = comfort life. If the consumer has that expectation, it gives you the opportunity to explain the difference and to recommend she replace it sooner. ● “Do you know what body impressions are?” Be sure to explain them— not as a negative, but as a reality. ● “Do you know how to take care of a new mattress?” Explaining the importance of quality bed frame support and a protective pad also gives you the opportunity for add-on sales. ● “Did you know that you don’t have to flip this mattress? People who buy a single-sided mattress but don’t realize it until they get it home may feel cheated. If you follow these suggestions, both you and your customers will have better experiences and can expect greater rewards. ● 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 Gerry.Morris@SleepTrust.com or by cell phone at 903-456-2015. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
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