The cover story
A mattress retailer’s plan for success RETAIL ROAD TRIP
Family-owned Urner’s remerchandises, aims high in Bakersfield, CA, market BE MY GUEST
The mattress business needs more women RSAs MARKET SCENE
Cool technologies, hot promotions star at Las Vegas Market
IN THIS ISSUE where to find it
THE COVER STORY
a mattress retailer’s plan for success Sleep Savvy’s longtime columnist and veteran sales trainer Gerry Morris lays out his detailed six-step plan for how to succeed and excel in the retail mattress business.
WAKE UP CALL from the editor’s desk
A new study reminds us that retailers who don’t tap into the purchasing power of baby boomers are losing an opportunity to gain market share.
SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use
More couples are sleeping in separate beds, says New York Times; court rules prisoners not entitled to comfy mattresses; bad beds still a common travelers’ complaint; a good closing starts at the beginning; California retailer rows the sale ashore; mattress shipments up 13% in June; weight gain again linked to sleep loss; brain’s energy may be restored during sleep...and more.
BACK TALK supporting customer dreams
There are good reasons to replace an old mattress. Here’s how your customers can tell if it’s time.
BE MY GUEST by Susan Ebaugh
Why are most mattress sales associates still men? This industry insider takes a look and makes some recommendations on how to hire more women.
MARKET SCENE seen & heard in Vegas
While traffic was slower than at the winter market, some cool technologies, hot promotions and line extensions were headliners in mattress showrooms.
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene Bakersfield, CA’s familyowned appliance/electronics leader Urner’s brings back bedding, remerchandises, redesigns and shoots for No. 1 in the mattress category. SleepSavvy • September 2010
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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 Michael Dunlop Susan Ebaugh Gerry Morris Michael Wright Creative Director 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. 9, No. 6 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 703-683-4503. Advertising services: 126 Parkview Lane, Reidsville, North Carolina 27320. Phone 336-342-4217. Fax 703-683-4503. 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. ©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.
WAKE UP CALL from the editor
Forgotten about those baby boomers? Bad idea
ew data from the Nielsen Company—the folks who measure and analyze media viewership and trends—is a great reminder that the baby boomers still dominate the marketplace in terms of sheer buying power. Born 1946-1964 and estimated at 78 million strong, U.S. boomers spend 38.5% of CPG dollars. Yet, says Nielsen, less than 5% of advertising dollars are targeted to adults 35-64, a group that includes boomers and the first wave of generation X (born 1965-1976). In fact, says Nielsen, the majority of marketers and media companies are ignoring more than half of these well-heeled boomers by focusing their efforts solely on 18-49 year olds. What’s going on here!? It’s a deep-seated cultural thing. Americans are youth-obsessed and marketers are youth-focused. Boomers? They’re getting old and, in this country, that has traditionally meant “out of the mainstream.” But Nielsen points out that today’s middle-aged and older consumers are a new breed. The conventional wisdom that they spend little, resist technology and are slow to adopt new products is outdated. Despite the recession, boomers remain a hugely affluent group. Though not as fast to incorporate new technologies into their lifestyles as younger generations, they do so with enthusiasm—think about the grandparents who regularly send emails or upload photos to Facebook and other sites! And today’s boomers also show a distinct willingness to try new brands and products. Consider these Nielsen facts about
• Dominate 1,023 out of 1,083 consumer packaged goods categories • Watch the most video—9:34 hours per day • Comprise 1/3 of all TV viewers, online users and social media users • More likely to have broadband Internet access at home. And if you think that the websites boomers spend time on are different than those visited by younger adults, think again—eight of the top 10 sites are the same: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Bing, Microsoft, YouTube, AOL and Wikipedia. “Boomers should be as desirable for marketers as millennials and genXers for years to come—they are the largest single group of consumers and a valuable target audience,” said Pat McDonough, Nielsen’s senior vice president of insights, analysis and policy. “As the U.S. continues to age, reaching this group will continue to be critical for advertisers.” Nielsen points out that, at a time when most analysts say consumer spending will be slow to rise, retailers and manufacturers need to look at every opportunity to grow market share. Boomers represent tremendous potential for marketers who make the effort to target them. That should include you. firstname.lastname@example.org SleepSavvy • September 2010
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SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use
NY Times, Today Show
One marriage, two beds—more couples are sleeping apart More couples are saying good night and going their separate ways, according to a story in the July 23 New York Times and a followup segment on NBC’s Today Show on July 26. Both cited studies showing that nearly 25% of couples sleep in separate beds or bedrooms. Now, the National Association of Home Builders says it expects 60% of custom homes to have dual master bedrooms by 2015.
Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s
This is great news for the mattress business, but opinions are divided on whether it’s good news for couples. New York Times writer Bruce Feiler thinks sleeping together is a good thing—“In an age when partners no longer eat together, exercise together or pray together, sleeping together may be the last bastion of togetherness in American relationships.” His advice: See a specialist if you have a sleep disorder and “brush up on your bediquette.” But therapist Allison Cohen believes that separate beds can lead to a healthier relationship. “Sleep issues stemming from restless leg syndrome to getting up to use the — Elenor Hibbert restroom in the night, snoozing in the morning, being on different wake/sleep schedBritish author ules—these things impact sleep,” she pointed out. “When you’re more wellrested, you are more productive at work and you bring home positive energy.” Robert Finley, a former Nevada state “I think the benefits of prisoner, didn’t have much luck sleeping separately, espepersuading a district court that his cially if one person isn’t Eighth Amendment rights were violatsleeping well, outweigh the ed when prison authorities deprived negatives,” said one partner him of a good mattress. in a dual-bedroom couple. The court ruled that prisoners do “I’m just generally happier not have a “clearly established right during the day, nicer to him to sleep on a comfortable mattress.” An appeals court cited a previous ruling that if I’m well-rested.” Her husstated, “Conditions that cannot be said to be cruel and unusual under contemporary band has his own reason for standards are not unconstitutional. To the extent that such conditions are restricenjoying the arrangement: tive and even harsh, they are part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their “As much as I hate when offenses against society.” she leaves, when she leaves, In summary: Don’t do the crime if you don’t want to do the time—on a bad mattress. I sprawl out.”
Court rules prisoners not entitled to comfy mattress
SleepSavvy • September 2010
stuff you can use
Closing starts at the beginning By Michael Wright Selecting the “right” way to close a sale can add to the stress and pressure of the situation. How do you quickly determine which approach will work in the final moments of your conversation? Take your time. Closing is a process that stretches over the customer’s entire experience. It starts with the first impression. Customers form their opinions about stores and associates the moment they walk in the door and will let those opinions influence their final decision. Start off on the right foot; be warm and inviting when greeting customers in the store or over the phone. Listen to customers’ problems and provide solutions that meet their needs and fit their budgets. Sell sleep first…customers will be less reluctant to open up their wallets later. As you show multiple solutions to their sleep needs, fully explain the differences between the products before trying to close the sale. Customers are far more likely to purchase when shown that the value of a mattress matches the price tag. Slow down the pace of your presentations and educate your customers to stop them from visiting other stores to compare prices. Spend quality time with customers and they will seek a return for their
invested time in the form of a mattress sale. Take a few minutes to let the products do some of the closing for you. Invite your customers to enjoy the mattress they like best while they reflect on the information you shared. Read their body language. When you see a look of contentment, step in and say, “That’s the one, isn’t it...?” Once you solidify the mattress sale, offer accessories that can help to protect their investment and further improve the quality of their sleep. Remember that showing customers the benefits of a product makes them want to buy it instead of feeling like they have to buy it. Finally, send a formal thank-you note, recalling a personal detail you learned from that customer during the sale and offering a practical tip to address their needs in the future. Let the closing mark the beginning of a relationship, not the end. Michael Wright is a sales trainer with Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group who has been training in the bedding and furniture industry for more than a decade. Michael’s education and research into consumer psychology qualifies him to share sales performance insights with bedding retailers and sales associates. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Uncomfortable beds still big annoyance among travelers
he hotel business may have come a long way in furnishing their guestrooms with comfy beds and luxury sleep accessories, but according to a recent telephone survey conducted by Consumer Reports (June 2010 issue), there’s still plenty of room for improvement. When 2,000 U.S. adults were asked to rate their greatest annoyances when traveling on a scale of 1-10—with 10 being the most annoying—“uncomfortable beds” got a 7.3. That put bad beds fourth on the list of hotel gripes. The top three, in order, were “rude or unhelpful staff” (7.8), “added fees” (7.6) and “inadequate A/C or heat” (7.5). Just below bad beds were “room not ready” (7.2), “insufficient or chintzy linens” (6.7) and “pricey inroom snacks” (5.6). Airline complaints took top honors in the survey overall, garnering an 8.4 for “luggage charges” and an 8.1 for “added fees.”
6 SleepSavvy • September 2010
stuff you can use
We’ll see your bicycle delivery and raise you a rowboat
fter reading about the Mattress Lot in Portland, OR, and its bicycle delivery service (July/August Sleep Savvy), Michael Dunlop at Dunlop Family Furniture & Mattress in Jackson, CA, couldn’t resist sending a picture and this story: “Our small, family-owned store is in the Gold Country about an hour southeast of Sacramento. Because of our location, we’ve been to an impressive variety of locations, each seemingly more remote than the last. Given our commitment to bringing smiles to our customers, though, we will go wherever necessary to deliver furniture or mattresses...because, sadly, too many of our competitors will say, ‘Nope!’ “The week we received the latest Sleep Savvy, our delivery team embarked on a delivery that topped all others. They drove nearly two hours to Lake Kirkwood and, after meeting the customer at the parking lot, they carried the mattress set and frame nearly a quarter-mile to the dock, where the customer’s rowboat waited. “After loading the set onto the
makeshift barge—two rowboats lashed together—our lead driver, Ramon Gabriel, took command of the vessel and rowed for nearly 20 minutes across the lake, towing the mattress set behind him. His partner, Clayton Durflinger, hiked around the lake with the customer and met Ramon at the cabin on the far side. “The hilarity of ripping out a staircase to get the set into a loft (and subsequent replacement of said
staircase) only added to the excitement of the day. “Preferring to walk back around the lake, the team made their way to the dock, where they carried the customer’s heavy, 40-plus-year-old set along the same quarter-mile path to the truck. Hopefully, the customers will not take advantage of our 30-Day Comfort Guarantee, as I don’t think Ramon and Clayton will be game for another rowboat adventure any time soon.”
Can you top that? That’s a whale of a delivery tale. Can anybody out there top it? Let us know! Email Nancy Butler, editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ISPA’s second all-industry conference set for March
he 2011 Industry Conference and Exhibition, sponsored by the International Sleep Products Association, is set for March 16-18 at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg, FL. The ISPA Industry Conference and Exhibition is an all-industry event for sleep products manufacturers, retailers and suppliers, featuring speakers, seminars and panel sessions designed to educate and engage every segment of the mattress industry. First held in November 2009, the event is following a new schedule: March in odd-numbered years, alternating with ISPA EXPO, the industry’s biennial trade show.
For more information, visit the ISPA website at www.sleepproducts.org/industryconference.
SleepSavvy • September 2010
stuff you can use
10 critical things to monitor in social media Andy Beal, creator of Trackur www.trackur.com,a social media monitoring tool with free and paid versions, offers this list of keyword categories that every business owner should monitor. 1. Your name. Keep an eye out for any mention of your own name, as well as your social networking user names. Tip: Monitoring “Andy Beal” would not likely include mentions of “andybeal.” 2. Your store name. Don’t just monitor your store name—plug in common misspellings, abbreviations, acronyms and legacy names. 3. Your best-selling brands and models. Track the reputation of the products that are key to your business. What are their perceived strengths and weaknesses? 4. Your executive team. Watch your management team’s reputation. If the CEO puts his foot in his mouth, you’ll want to be the first to know. 5. Twitter handles. Monitor the Twitter names of
those who use the micro-blogging service on behalf of your company. 6. Your marketing message. Monitor your marketing campaign slogans to help evaluate their effectiveness and find out what customers are saying about them. 7. Your competitors. Watch them and learn from their successes and their failures. 8. The industry. Keep a watchful eye on bedding and sleep trends. Plug in terms like “mattress shopping”and other industry-related key words. Look for opportunities and potential disasters. Learn what consumers are looking for and concerned about. 9. Your known weaknesses. Have you had complaints about service or delivery in the past? Keep an eye out for recurring problems so you can remedy them. 10. Your business partners. Did a key supplier just declare bankruptcy? Monitor important business partners and what’s happening with their companies.
BEDDING BIZ BEAT The mattress industry experienced an outstanding first half of the year, rounding out the six months with its best doubledigit gains so far. Unit shipments rose by 12.6% in June, compared to June 2009, while dollars were up 13%. For the six months combined, units rose 11.3% and dollars 10.7%.
Mattresses & Foundations in Millions of Dollars Sample of Leading Producers
Percent change +1.7%
Percent change +12.2%
Percent change +17.8%
Percent change +10.1%
Percent change +10%
Percent change +13%
■ 2009 ■ 2010
8 SleepSavvy • September 2010
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U.S. adults are sleepier than Europeans
Americans are a weary society, according to studies done at Stanford University—more so than their European counterparts. Results of the most recent research, presented at the SLEEP 2010 conference in June, show that 19.5% of nearly 9,000 U.S. adults reported moderate to excessive sleepiness. Additionally, 11% of participants reported severe sleepiness, which was more prevalent in women (13%) than in men (8.6%). “The prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness is very high in the American population, much higher than what we observed in the European population,” Dr. Maurice Ohayon, director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center, told the Sleep Review journal. A study published in 2002 showed that the prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness in Europe was just 15%. Other findings from the new research: ● 18% reported being sleepy in situations that required a high level of concentration, such as during meetings. ● People with obstructive sleep apnea were three times more likely to be sleepy. ● People with an insomnia diagnosis and those who typically sleep for 6 hours or less were more than twice as likely to be sleepy. ● People who work at night and those with major depression were nearly two times more likely to report sleepiness.
Deep sleep may decline with testosterone levels in men After age 30, testosterone levels begin to drop by 1-2% a year. At around 40, many men begin to complain about their sleep quality. A new study at the University of Montreal says the two may be related. The research found a link between testosterone levels in men over 50 and the amount of deep sleep they report. In young men, deep sleep represents 10% to 20% of total sleep. By age 50, it decreases to as little as 5%. For men over 60, it can disappear altogether, said study leader Zoran Sekerovic. Low levels of testosterone intensify the decline of “cerebral synchronization” that occurs with age, according to Sekerovic. He suggests that it’s the dwindling
10 SleepSavvy • September 2010
testosterone that impacts deep sleep, not vice versa. If he’s right, testosterone treatments could prove valuable for sounder sleep—but more study is needed.
Sleep loss linked to weight gain in women, especially as they age Women who lie awake with trouble sleeping at night are likely to find themselves gaining weight. And it gets worse for middle-aged and older women. The newest findings, reported in the International Journal of Obesity, add to the growing evidence that sleeplessness is related to weight gain. In this study, unlike previous studies, researchers were able to determine that sleep problems came before weight gain, not the other way around. Finnish researchers followed more than 7,300 adults age 40-60 years for seven years. The women who reported significant sleep problems at the beginning generally put on more weight over time than the women who slept well. About a third gained at least 11 pounds, compared to about a fifth of women with no sleep problems. Interestingly, men were spared. The 17% of men who reported sleep problems were no more likely to gain weight than those who slept well. Researchers said the reason for the difference between men and women isn’t clear.
Energy may be restored to the brain during sleep
New findings reported in the June 30 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience suggest that a flow of the cellular energy during the initial stages of sleep may refuel the processes in the brain that we need to function normally when awake. According to Radhika Basheer, PhD, of Boston V.A. Healthcare System and Harvard Medical School, these findings may be an answer to a longstanding question—why do we sleep? Researchers examined adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels—the energy currency of cells—in rats. ATP increased during non-REM sleep, while levels were stable when the animals were awake. There was also no increase in ATP when the rats were forced to stay awake past their normal sleep time. The scientists concluded that sleep was necessary for restorative ATP energy flow.
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12 SleepSavvy â€˘ September 2010
The cover story
r’s plan for success Six steps to navigating the new marketplace
By Gerry Morris
e are entering a new era. Things are changing for mattress retailers and there’s no going back. Business as usual may never again produce the results it once did. The recent economic downturn has taken its toll on our industry and, while conditions may be improving, consumers are likely to remain concerned about the future and cautious about their spending. In spite of this uncertain outlook, mattress retailers have an opportunity to find success. But they must adjust their sails to navigate the unfamiliar and choppy waters or risk being shipwrecked. In this retailer’s plan for success, there are six important ideas that can help grow market share, improve sales and profits, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and make the entire experience of buying and selling mattresses more rewarding for both the customer and the retailer. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
SleepSavvy • September 2010
THE COVER STORY
mattess retailer’s plan for success Trends you can’t ignore The following four trends are most certainly influencing how consumers shop for and buy all consumer products, including mattresses. Retailers must consider and adapt to this changing mindset. ● Re-prioritized needs and wants. The economic downturn has caused the majority of consumers to re-examine their spending priorities. In that context, many are electing to spend more time at home and are developing a new appreciation for the simple things in life. ● The benefits of sleep. Consumers are becoming more aware of the positive effects of good sleep and the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation from the proliferation of articles and reports in the media. What is too often absent is the message about the importance of a quality mattress. ● The influence of social media. A growing number of consumers are not listening to what companies say about themselves—instead, they are checking social networks to determine what products to buy and from whom. Word-of-mouth now travels at the speed of light and reaches exponentially more people than ever before. ● Going green. The environmental movement goes well beyond recycling. Increasing numbers of people want to buy eco-friendly products and choose to align themselves with companies that are proactive in supporting the environment.
A six-step plan for success Mattress retailers have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the new consumer mindset. Here is a six-step blueprint for success. Send a new message Research now confirms what we’ve always known: A new, top-quality mattress is a vitally important element in getting deep,
14 SleepSavvy • September 2010
restorative sleep. We should be shouting that from the rooftops. Unfortunately, many retailers—if not most—respond to economic woes in a knee-jerk fashion by ramping up “swing the door” advertising with tired low-price, longfinancing and free-services promotions. While this approach may increase traffic and volume, it undermines average ticket prices and profits, sabotages RSAs’ best efforts and perpetuates the mistrust that many consumers feel toward our industry. It’s a shame how many people are probably sleeping on poor quality mattresses because of this approach. We must switch the focus from the product to the person. It’s not about the mattress—it’s what the mattress can do for quality of life that matters. People don’t particularly like to buy mattresses, but they do want to feel good and be happy, and they are willing to pay big bucks for it. Here are some ways to send new, people-focused messages: ● Connect the dots. Remember the powerful “cocooning” home furnishings trend identified by futurist Faith Popcorn in the ’90s? It was a great idea then and it’s a great idea now, but you rarely see any retailers promoting that concept. For example: “This year, take a staycation and create a haven in your bedroom.” ● An emotional appeal. Consider running lifestyle pictures in your ads that give a glimpse of what life could be like when you sleep on a luxurious mattress. Engaging the imagination evokes the emotions, turns a need into a want and compels people to take action. ● “Did you know?” in ads. It doesn’t take much space to add a section that asks questions such as: “Did you know that in one month the average person spends 10 full days on his or her mattress?” or
“Did you know that getting the few extra minutes of REM sleep per night may have more of a positive cumulative effect than a daily vitamin, walk or healthy meal choice?” People will respond if they know that by sleeping on a quality mattress they could weigh less, look younger, feel better and be more productive. ● Sleep seminars. Invite a sleep expert to make a presentation about the benefits of good sleep and give advice on how to sleep better. Be sure to include tips on how to select the right mattress. Offer an incentive for those that attend. ● In-store DVD. Set up a TV with a DVD player and use it to show product information from your vendors, educational segments on sleep and other information that makes the mattress-health connection. Your RSAs will benefit, too.
Empower RSAs RSAs may be the only touch point the customer has—not just with the retailer, but with our industry as a whole. The conversation between RSA and shopper determines whether the sale is made, the product chosen is a quality one and the customer is ultimately satisfied. Consumers prefer to buy from an associate they trust. Here are the key elements to empowering your mattress RSAs: ● Effective training. Competent, confident associates that care about their customers are the best at instilling trust. Training should be an ongoing process. Arming RSAs with knowledge and skills pays www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
THE COVER STORY
mattess retailer’s plan for success big dividends for everyone, especially customers. Expand training to include communication skills and diversity training. Associates must be able to relate to shoppers of different ethnicities, ages and gender, as well as different social and economic groups. When today’s empowered shoppers don’t feel comfortable, they know they can always buy elsewhere. ● Teach sleep. Savvy retailers teach RSAs to expand their sales presentations to include the benefits of good sleep, the detrimental effects of lack of deep sleep and the role of a quality mattress. Customers also appreciate tips on how to get a good night’s sleep. (You can find all of this information in the Better Sleep Council’s Better Sleep Guide online at www.bettersleep.org or in the Retailer Toolkit section on the Sleep Savvy site at www.sleepsavvymagazine.com.) ● Motivate. Retail hours are such that few people want to make a lifetime career out of selling mattresses. It’s vital to keep your sales staff motivated by regularly rewarding and incentivizing them. Smart retailers also address their employees’ quality-of-life issues to keep RSAs happy and productive. ● A quality mattress. All mattress sales associates must sleep on new, high-quality mattresses—period. Being able to speak from personal experience is the best selling tool of all. I think it’s important to ask each RSA to pay for the new mattress, even if it’s at a reduced price and they pay for it over time. But however you arrange it, putting your RSAs on quality sleep sets may be the most important thing you can do.
Offer unique experiences One of the best ways to grow your business is to maximize every opportunity with every customer and do everything possible to make sure her experience is positive. Here are some tips on achieving that: www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
● See from her perspective. An estimated 85% of all mattress decisions are made by women. It’s imperative to look at the entire shopping experience through her eyes. Too many “just looking” shoppers see something that makes them decide to go
color schemes, lifestyle photography, relaxing music and subtle scents. Even consider serving beverages and healthy snacks. Offer a variety of pillows (with fresh, disposable pillowcases) that shoppers can use to really get the feel of the mattresses—you may
“We must switch the focus from the product to the person. It’s not about the mattress—it’s what the mattress can do for quality of life that matters.” elsewhere to buy. ● Daily checklist. Make a list of things that must be done every day. Sweep, mop, clean windows, tidy up the showroom, check floor models, straighten signage, etc. Check the store inside and out and do each chore every day whether it looks like it needs doing or not, especially in the bathroom. Attention to detail makes a tremendous difference to women. ● Relational selling. Customers don’t like to feel that they are being manipulated or run through a mill. Replace the selling-steps approach with “guided discovery”—conversations with people rather than presentations to shoppers. For example: “Before we start looking at mattresses, let’s talk about you for a moment.” Consider setting up a seating area where you can visit, consult and gather information before jumping right into the selling process. Focusing on the person and using open-ended questions produces meaningful dialogue. Instead of asking “How does this bed feel to you?” try asking “How do you feel on this bed?” ● Appeal to the senses. Create a comfortable, safe, inviting and relaxing atmosphere in your store. Use elements to appeal to all of the senses, like soft indirect lighting, soothing
find you sell lots of pillows, too. ● Ask a woman. Think about creating such an enticing environment that your customers tell their friends, “Even if you don’t need a bed, you should go see this store—it’s awesome!” Seek advice from women on what could inspire that reaction. It might include a vignette with a completely “dressed” bed. Use it to talk about the importance of making the bedroom a sanctuary or haven from daily stress—with the mattress the most important ingredient, of course. ● Stash the POP. Make the beds the focus of attention, not the point-ofpurchase materials. Signage at the foot of the bed diverts attention— when shoppers see prices, they lose objectivity. Specs and mini spring units invite questions that may not be asked otherwise. Keep them out of sight until needed. ● Re-merchandise. There is growing evidence that too many choices may hurt sales by forcing shoppers and RSAs to work harder to find the right bed. Many times, customers either can’t decide or end up with buyer’s remorse. With too many SKUs on the floor, RSAs find “go to” beds to simplify the process and ignore models that may be better choices. ● Enhancements. Make sure all of SleepSavvy • September 2010
THE COVER STORY
mattess retailer’s plan for success your customers protect their investment by purchasing quality mattress protectors and frames. Enhance their purchase by matching them with the right pillows and sheets. These items offer more benefits for the customer— and more dollars for your store. They should be a part of every presentation, not an “add-on” at the end.
Create a culture Companies that dominate their categories often have one thing in common: They’ve created a culture from within that compels customers to step into their world, take a piece of it home, tell others and go back for more. While all of the steps in the plan are important to your success, nothing is more crucial than the attitude of your employees about their job, their company, their products and
their customers. Retailers who want to attract and create enthusiastic, passionate and loyal customers must start by attracting and creating enthusiastic, passionate and loyal employees. To create a cohesive team, all employees must be on the same page and understand how their jobs impact the goals of the company. Here are some thoughts on creating a successful culture for your company: ● From selling to serving. Customers perceive motivation. If your goal is to make a sale and put money in your pocket, you will be less successful than if your goal is to help the customer sleep better on the right mattress. If it’s all about you and not them, they will take their business elsewhere. ● Differentiate. Promote and lever-
age what you do well as a company. Identify some aspect of your business that distinguishes you from competitors and capitalize on it in your messages to your target customers. Find some non-bedding-related reason for customers to come in. Perhaps you could display work by local artists, quilters or other craftspeople. Offer the products you’re using to create that multi-sensory store environment—unique scents, CDs, lotions, books and even special teas or snacks—to keep them coming back. Think outside the box and come up with ideas and events that create buzz. Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow offers terrific ideas about how to stand out from your competitors. ● Have a mission. Create a customerfocused mission statement. Post it for all to see and refer to it often. For
GET SMART. GET SAVVY! ➤O ur circulation reaches more sleep products retailers ➤ Our features, tips and ideas make retailers smarter ➤ Our advertising rates represent excellent value ➤ Our retailer readers rave about Sleep Savvy
The smart place to advertise For information and a copy of our new 2011 Media Kit, contact Kerri Bellias, sales director, at (336)945-0265 or email email@example.com
16 SleepSavvy • September 2010
THE COVER STORY
mattess retailer’s plan for success
6 example: “We are in the business of improving our customers’ quality of life. Our goal is to help as many people as possible discover the benefits of deep, restorative sleep on a quality, comfortable, supportive mattress.” ● Start the day off right. Have a daily meeting before the store opens and start with inspiring, motivating messages. Be sure every RSA is well groomed, dressed professionally, and mentally and emotionally prepared to be of service. Make sure everyone is aware of any issues concerning inventory, delivery, pricing or model changes. All RSAs should be completely familiar with store promotions and specials—not only yours, but also competitors’. ● Create a community. Use social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to establish a conversation with your community and customers. Make your website a resource for information about mattresses and sleep—change it often and make it dynamic. Use social media tools such as Yelp to find out what people are saying about your company.
Deliver white glove service Empowered consumers are sharing their experiences at unprecedented levels, thanks to social networking. Customerfriendly, principal-based service practices are more important than ever before. Here are a few actions I believe are critical: ● Delivery excellence. A great inwww.sleepsavvymagazine.com
store experience must be followed by a great experience with your delivery or you’ll lose major points with customers, who will also tell their friends about it. Your delivery people are ambassadors for your store. Make sure they’re on time, courteous, efficient, clean and leave behind a totally satisfied customer. ● Follow up. Always send thank you notes and follow up with phone calls to make sure customers are happy. You can use this as an opportunity to make sure they know that it takes at least 30 days to adjust to a new mattress. Always ask about possible future needs and mark reminders on a calendar. ● Create advocates. Every retailer should read Satisfaction: How Every Great Company Listens to the Voice of the Customer by Chris Denove and James D. Power, the book that set the standard on customer service. Among its lessons: Customers with problems that are taken care of easily and quickly feel better about a company than if they never had a problem in the first place. ● Testimonials and referrals. Seek testimonials and referrals from satisfied customers. Then post them or create a handout to give new customers the confidence to buy from you. ● Incentivize. Give your customers reasons to come back. Ask for emails and keep in touch to let them know about new products and special events, such as private sales. Consider sending out a periodic newsletter with sleep tips and coupons.
Get involved People want to do business with companies that are environmentally responsible and support the community. Successful companies find ways to lead the charge on sustainability, recycling, charitable giving and supporting local causes. ● Be proactive. Go out and find it. Get involved with the community. Stage fundraising events and offer sponsorships. Conduct educational seminars for clubs and organizations. ● Do road shows. One young RSA I met came up with the idea of setting up beds in retirement communities for the residents to try and buy at a discount. Think outside the box about what would work well in your community. Things have certainly changed for the mattress industry, but not necessarily for the worse. There are tremendous opportunities awaiting retailers that embrace the change. Start by implementing the ideas presented in the plan—even if only a few at a time—and watch new levels of success come your way. ● Gerry Morris is an author, consultant, training coach and a member of the National Speakers Association. With more than 20 years of experience in the mattress industry, Gerry has helped manufacturers, retailers and RSAs around the world increase their sales. He has also been a regular columnist in Sleep Savvy for nearly nine years. To find out what Gerry can do for your company or just to talk over ideas, call 903-456-2015, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.innerspring.net.
SleepSavvy • September 2010
Day of Sale:
It Didn’t Work:
You sell a mattress barely 30 minutes after you open your doors on a beautiful Saturday. The birds are singing. The customer calls to complain about “mattress divots.” You tell her they are “body contour adaptations.” She calls again. And again. You miss making a sale while you explain to her that body contour adaptations are normal, acceptable, and within the warranty. You’re forced to leave your brother-in-law manning the store while you act as mattress technician and drive across town to the customer’s house to inspect. With your high-tech “adaptation assessor kit” (No. 2 pencil, ruler, string), you determine the divot…er, adaptation…isn’t covered by warranty. You break the bad news to the customer. She reveals that she’s a world-famous social media expert and vows revenge. Tweet, tweet.
Rollator tests simulate extended mattress use. 0.0%
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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Urner’s David Urner (left) and Steve Illingworth are the second and third generations in the family business.
Bakersfield, CA, family business up-sells bedding with new department, long tradition of trust By Nancy Butler Photography by John Harte and courtesy of Urner’s
n an economic climate that has been brutal for independent and family-owned retailers, it’s hard to find one that has not only survived, but thrived where others failed. Urner’s, located in Bakersfield, CA—a middle-class, largely blue-collar community hard hit by unemployment—is one of those retailers that has beat the odds. A single-store operation that sells appliances, big-screen TVs, furniture and bedding, this third-generation family business reports remarkable success in growing and up-selling the mattress category. “$799 is a popular price, but price points have moved higher over the past few months,” reports Steve Illingworth, vice president and general manager. “We’re selling lots of beds at $1,299.” Maybe it’s because of the 90-year-old company’s deep roots in Bakersfield, where the name Urner’s stands for trust. Maybe it’s because the company’s re-entry into the mattress category in 2002—after a 25-year absence—began with a premium brand as the only line on the floor. Maybe it’s because of the revitalization of the mattress department with the launch of the store’s Z’s Please Sleep Center in 2008. Whatever has created the winning combination, Urner’s now commands a top spot in the local mattress market—and the family has its eye on No. 1. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
SleepSavvy • September 2010
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Urner’s Z’s Please Sleep Center is located at the front of the store.
David E. Urner and fellow teacher Errol Janes opened the first store— dedicated to appliances—in 1919. A new washing machine was considered revolutionary for the home. The partners witnessed many more over the years, including the first refrigerator and upright vacuum. They faced financial hurdles, unscrupulous distribution tactics and the devastating stock market crash of 1929. The store closed for a while; Janes went back to an academic career. But David Urner reopened under his own name in 1932. During World War II, when appliance production ground to a halt, Urner’s turned to the furniture and toy business to survive. Downtown for most of its existence, the company moved into its current 52,000-square-foot building—22,000 square feet of showroom plus a warehouse—near the freeway in 2002. But longstanding traditions continue under David H. Urner, current CEO/ president and son of the founder, and
20 SleepSavvy • September 2010
grandson Steve Illingworth, who now handles the day-to-day management. Salespeople still hand write thank-you notes to their customers, whose parents and grandparents have shopped there, too. Going for the top Urner’s opted out of mattresses in the ’80s, in favor of appliances and, in the ’90s, big-screen TVs—a category in which they now do a very big business. It’s also among the Top 100 appliance retailers in the country. With the move to an expensive new location, the family decided to bring in the Tempur-Pedic line, showing half a dozen SKUs in 200 square feet of space—very successfully. In May 2008, Urner’s downsized the furniture department and turned part of it into the 3,000-square-foot Z’s Please Sleep Center at the front of the store. Stearns & Foster and Sealy were added to the mix and, most recently, Serta’s HGTV Green line, which is
an exclusive with the Brand Source co-operative buying group Urner’s has belonged to for many years and credits for supporting their overall success. The decision to expand in bedding was fueled by advice from America’s Research Group consultant Britt Beemer. “Britt said that the mattress market here was wide open, there was no clear leader and we could easily reach No. 2 within two years,” Illingworth says. The recession may have brought new construction to a standstill in Bakersfield, “but Britt said that mattresses, like appliances and unlike other furniture, always need to be replaced.” Illingworth isn’t sure what share of the bedding market Urner’s has right now, but they’re excited about how far they’ve come in two years and are dedicating significant resources to becoming No. 1. One of the reasons he believes they’ll succeed is, “There’s a very high trust factor with Urner’s in our community.” www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Quality front and center Before creating the Z’s Please Sleep Center, Illingworth took a tour of stores around the country, concentrating on those with strong reputation for success in the mattress category. Seeing how others merchandised and presented their products was valuable. The department is near the store’s entrance, so customers have to walk by the mattresses to get to other merchandise. It’s a brightly lit, open structure, with some half-high walls. Lifestyle banners add color and catch the eye. Bedside tables and lamps help soften the environment. There are now 27 SKUs on the floor, including some “dual comfort” models, which increase the models you’re able to show, Illingworth adds. The price range on queen is $299 to $4,000, with $1,299 now among the best-selling price points, despite the financially strapped local economy. Illingworth points to “good stories” provided by the mattress vendors. He also credits the fact that Urner’s got back into the category showing only TempurPedic for the first few years and found that “people are hungry for quality, so we’ve continued to sell quality.” “When I go shopping at other stores,” he says. “It’s like they try to put you on the $699 to $799 products. Maybe it’s an RSA problem.” The skilled RSA Illingworth explains that when a mattress customer arrives at Urner’s, she’s first asked about her sleep experience—for example, “How did you feel this morning when you woke up?” This kind of question opens a conversation and gains her trust. The customer is asked to pick a pillow and carry it with her. Then she’s guided to an area with four beds—firm, plush, pillowtop (all www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
RSA Thomas Rodriguez (standing), Marketing Manager David Perkins and Z’s Please Manager Mary Humrick recreate an adjustable presentation.
innerspring) and memory foam. All four models are in the $1,100 to $1,200 price range, from which the RSA will be able to step up or down. The customer is invited to “Lie down in the position you go to sleep in.” This “sleep test” process identifies the right comfort and narrows the selection. It also slows the process down so they can develop some rapport and educate the customer, Illingworth emphasizes. “We encourage the customer to stay as long as it takes to get just the right fit,” he says. When a customer doesn’t take enough time, the retailer pays the price. “The highest return rate is on firm beds—because often they only think that’s what they want,” he points out. The goal at Urner’s is to add to the store’s regular customer base, and its new commitment to mattresses has done just that. “I’d say 50% of mattress customers have had a good experience with us before (in another category) and 50% are brand-new customers.” He finds the
old adage to be true: “If you take care of the customer, the customer will take care of you.” “Encouraging the customers to take lots of time and the commitment of our RSAs to finding the right mattress make a big difference,” Illingworth stresses. “Our RSAs know that a $499 mattress isn’t going to do the customer any favors.” All of Urner’s six mattress salespeople—who also sell furniture and electronics, but not appliances— are participants in the company Employee Stock Option Program (ESOP) and are on commission. Accessories incorporated Urner’s also does a commendable job with sleep accessories, claiming to close on protective pads with 90% of its mattress sales. Its products are from Guardsman and Tempur-Pedic, at $89 and $99 queen. Selling protection is something they became adept at in the appliance category, Illingworth says. And, importantly, the customer must SleepSavvy • September 2010
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
buy one to qualify for Urner’s 60-day comfort guarantee. “The profits are excellent,” he says. “It basically covers the cost of delivery.” Pillows, at $20 to $149, are always part of the mattress presentation. Vendors include Tempur-Pedic, Natura and Leggett & Platt, which also supplies sheet sets, at $89 to $349. More than 15% of the TempurPedic sales include the brand’s Ergo adjustable base, Illingworth reports, and that alone effectively doubles the price of the bed. “Presentation is everything in adjustables,” he says. “A good presentation demonstrates the immediate benefits for things like back stress and breathing.” Aggressive marketing Advertising in the mattress category is very aggressive from a pricing
22 SleepSavvy • September 2010
standpoint—it has to be, Illingwoth says. “We promote price. But we step up in the store.” A weekly newspaper insert features a page devoted to mattresses, but 75% of the mattress ad budget goes into local TV spots. Urner’s website (www.urners.com) has become a powerful sales tool, as well as an information resource for customers, thanks to its new patent pending “coupon pages” program. “When you download a coupon, we capture your data and respond by email, starting a conversation right away,” Illingworth explains. “Many times, they also give us their phone number, so we can call.” Private sale events are very big for Urner’s—currently, a “Ladies Night” event is in the works. Last fall, the company celebrated
its 90th anniversary with a big community-service event. David Perkins, marketing manager, says that when he went to ask Urner and Illingworth what they wanted to do to celebrate their anniversary, they answered in unison: “Give back to the community.” The family business is constantly active and generous in its community support, Perkins says. So in addition to giving away two home theatre systems to lucky customers during the anniversary event, they replaced all of the mattresses at the Bakersfield Rescue Mission. “The program got us lots of news coverage and lots of respect,” Perkins says. “We had customers come in and tell us that they decided right then and there that they would buy from Urner’s.” ●
supporting customer dreams
There are good reasons to suspect that old mattress
Are you looking for persuasive reasons that you can share with consumers and customers about why they should replace their old mattresses? Here are two of the best: 1. You wake up with an achy back. A mattress that’s past its prime may be forcing your body to adapt in ways that aren’t healthy for it. If you’re waking up in the morning with overall stiffness, sore muscles, an aching back, or arms or legs that have gone numb, it’s very possible that they’re being caused by the mattress you’re sleeping on. 2. Your body is older now. When you bought your last mattress, you tested it and picked it out because it felt good to you—at the time. But your body has changed since then. If you try out mattresses today, there’s a good chance you’ll discover that your comfort preferences and support needs have changed, too. Back pain—usually occurring in the lower back— tends to become more common as our bodies age. And back pain is second only to the common cold in terms of why people call in sick to work. Many times, they aren’t sure what’s caused the pain. It may simply be the result of lifting something heavy incorrectly. (The right way is to bend at the knees and lift with your legs, letting the legs take the weight rather than your back.) So, how can people tell if it’s the mattress that’s the culprit? Here’s one way you can recommend: Try sleeping somewhere else—perhaps in a hotel that boasts really comfortable new mattresses. If your pain, stiffness, soreness or numbness improves after a night or two on a new bed, it’s a good sign that it’s time to go mattress shopping. Eventually every mattress—and its matching foundation—needs to be replaced, no matter how perfect it seemed when it was first bought.
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SleepSavvy • September 2010
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BE MY GUEST by Susan Ebaugh
Why are the majority of mattress RSAs still men? I decided to find out It’s not news to anyone in our industry that mattresses are developed and sold primarily by men, while the gender that buys them is women. That’s been the case for so long I sometimes think it’s the very reason why it’s never changed much. Most of us define reality by what we’re used to. Decades of industry gender imbalance? Situation: Normal. Recently I did some research on this timeworn issue, focusing on the retail side of the business. I wanted to understand why the majority of mattress RSAs have been (and still are) men, what forces lay behind that dynamic and how U.S. retailers really feel about hiring more women to sell to their female-dominated customer base. What I learned along the way surprised even me, a veteran of Serta and Sealy and a member of the industry’s minority gender for some 27 years. Here’s a quick summary of my survey method and sample: ● Hour-long, in-depth phone interviews with 12 different mattress retailers in 19 states, representing 549 outlets ● 58% sleep chains, 25% furniture chains, 17% single-unit stores ● A mix of store owners, managers, hiring personnel and salespeople —75% men and 25% women ● Average age of sample: 43; average years in mattress retail: 15.2. It’s worth noting that while my study was not nationally projectable, it was representative of the thoughts and opinions of those who own or work for recognized mattress retailers of various sizes around the country. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Even men say women do better Here was the first startling revelation from the research: When asked to comment on the merits of female versus male mattress RSAs, a whopping 78% of the sample said, “Women relate better to women” and 66% said “Women make better mattress RSAs than men.” Remember that three-fourths of those I spoke to were men. Also, the average share of male RSAs across all of the surveyed stores was as high as 74%! Frankly, the first thing that came to mind was something my father often yelled above the clamor of his four rambunctious kids: “What the hell’s going on here?” So I asked retailers the same question—but with more tact—which is why I got more answers than my beleaguered dad ever did. Here’s a sampling of what retailers told me: “Women have more leverage in dealing with objections and closing a sale, especially when a female is shopping alone.” “Women take more time and ask more questions. Men are too focused on making the sale.” “Women sell based more on emotion. Women shoppers tend to trust them far more than men.” “Because women RSAs interact better with other women, they can really drive the purchase when there’s a couple shopping.” “Consumers want to be cared for and women are better at doing that.” Even the comments from retailers who didn’t agree that women make superior mattress salespeople were very fair-minded: “Men and women are equally capable.” “It depends on the person.” SleepSavvy • September 2010
BE MY GUEST
by Susan Ebaugh Where are all the female RSAs? Obviously, a central question was evolving: If the majority of the retail sample believed women relate better to women and make better mattress RSAs, why then aren’t there more women on retail floors? Retailers provided essentially five reasons: 1. Long hours. The time commitment is too great for women with children, said many retailers. Some reported that they don’t split shifts and are concerned about women closing the store at night. 2. Pay structure. Since mattress retail is primarily commission-based, some retailers thought the aggressive sales environment might intimidate women. 3. Complex product. Others pointed to the complexity of the product, which may not appeal to women because there isn’t much “style” in it. 4. A tradition of male dominance. A few retailers admitted that the mostly male co-worker scenario doesn’t appear open or inviting to women. 5. The nature of the industry. Finally, some chalked it up to the nonprogressive character of the industry. One made the point that most women RSAs haven’t been in the business long enough to establish a successful track record in the top 30% of sales. As a result—and particularly in furniture or mattress chains—these women
get moved from store to store and tend to cycle out. Outdated thinking? Entrenched assumptions? Elements of truth? Maybe all three play a role, but I decided to take the next step and ask women themselves what they thought about working as mattress salespeople. What do women think? Interviewing a small sample of eight women I didn’t know, I asked each to assume she was looking for a retail sales job. Most of the women, ranging in age from 23 to 51, had gone to college and were employed full- or parttime. Half had children at home. Not surprising was that the women had retail job preferences that included stores like Williams Sonoma, Target or The Gap—not mattress stores. They viewed mattress sales as boring and lacking in human interaction. Only two of the eight said they would consider selling beds, but only if they received good training. Every woman identified mattress salespeople as “almost always” men, but none claimed they minded working with men. One even said she prefers it. Then came another interesting finding: When asked what they knew about compensation, every woman assumed mattress retailers paid the same standard hourly rate and
benefits as the Targets or Gaps of the world. When they learned that mattress sales usually involved commission plus incentives and that they could make a lot more money, six of the eight immediately reconsidered selling beds. You can attribute that attitude shift to a tough economy or consider two other scenarios. The first is that a job is likely to look better when your earning opportunity is two to three times what you expected. Second, when compensation is perceived as roughly equal among various retail categories, the ambience and atmosphere of the store environment becomes a critical factor. 10 ways to make change happen So, here’s the big picture as I see it: The mostly male retail industry believes women make better or equally good RSAs, but one or more of the following is also true: They continue to think there are specific problems with hiring women, they don’t know how to reach them or recruit them, or hiring more women RSAs is not a priority. At the same time, women actually looking for retail jobs might be far more attracted to mattress sales if they better understood the compensation structure and opportunities—and were assured of getting good training.
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BE MY GUEST
by Susan Ebaugh Here are some facts and ideas I hope will inspire retailers to reach out to the very gender that could significantly impact their business and change the big picture for the industry: 1. Focus your search on college grads or young women who are open to learning and eager to work. Also consider more mature women whose children are likely to be grown, who have work experience and may respond well to commission sales. Give serious thought to the benefits that a more flexible schedule overall might bring to your store. 2. Security is critical for any employee, female or male. But it may be time to rethink any longstanding, maleonly policies about your store’s operation. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that in 2008, more than 16 million Americans worked in retail stores. Nearly half were women. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that many of those 8 million women were opening and closing stores? 3. A good sales training program addresses concerns over both product complexity and commission pay. As one female RSA put it, “Women aren’t daunted by the product’s technical aspects—they just need to get good training!” 4. Effective education and support also build confidence, which can help
dispel any concerns about commission structures. It may be news to some employers, but a male-dominated workplace is not a negative to many women. 5. Word-of-mouth (WOM) remains a primary retail search technique. If a retailer can hire just one female salesperson, her WOM may mean the store never has to work to find another woman RSA. 6. To attract female candidates, use the economies and power of today’s technologies to post openings on your store’s website or Facebook page. One owner said he’s recruited salespeople using his personal Facebook page. 7. Pay bonuses or offer incentives to salespeople who refer a female hire. Prospect for women RSAs in nonmattress retail stores in your area. 8. Whenever possible, promote and train from within. Women in management, HR or marketing communications are in prime positions to attract and influence other women. 9. Slant “female” in job-related headlines and ad copy. Instead of “Mattress Sales Associates Needed,” for example, use more targeted headlines like, “Do You Relate Well to Women? They’re Our Primary Customers!” Emphasize job training and the higher income opportunities your store offers that other retailers don’t.
® You Slee not u p on an nder an E le
Susan Ebaugh is a co-founder and partner in Lilly Management Group (LMG), a full-service consulting firm to mattress producers, suppliers and retailers. She has 27 years’ experience in the bedding industry, having served in executive marketing posts at Serta and Sealy. Today, Susan specializes in marketing, strategic communications, PR and research services. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the LMG website at www.lillymanagementgroup.com or call 800-409-0976.
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RSAs or staff on your website, in job messages or recruitment materials to promote your store as female-friendly. Recently, the retail industry’s leading online forum reported that “One lesson many businesses have failed to learn is how best to employ women…how to hire them in the first place and then how to use them to the best of their abilities.” The time is long overdue in our industry for retailers to recognize the influence women wield—not only as the category’s chief decision-makers, but also as the gender that can best drive those decisions directly from the selling floor. ●
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SleepSavvy • September 2010
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seen & heard in Vegas Cool technologies, hot promotions in Vegas Vendors seek to make sales easier, more exciting for retailers...and consumers
Simmons CEO Gary Fazio, who joined the company just before market, helped introduce the new Beautyrest Black Beyond beds.
By Barbara Nelles
endors at the summer Las Vegas Market last month generally agreed that traffic was slower than at the winter show—everything seems to slow when the mercury soars to 105 F. And the market pattern seems to be settling into a more robust show in the cooler months. In mattress showrooms at the World Market Center, many of the new offerings were of the line-extension variety, but there were a few shop-stoppers, some hidden away in private viewing rooms. Promotions and contests targeting both retailers and consumers were plentiful, offering winners everything from pillows to iPads—even trips to Las Vegas and New Zealand. Change in the air Simmons introduced new CEO Gary Fazio, who said that people have been asking him why he joined the company after years with Mattress Firm, most recently as chairman. “Because of the tradition of the company and quality of the products like Simmons Beautyrest,” Fazio told Sleep Savvy. “And with the new ownership, this is a very exciting time for us. You can see it throughout the showroom—there’s lots new here and lots in the pipeline. But innovation
is easy; what’s not easy is to make it relevant. We’re going to change the conversation with retailers. It’s about working together and figuring this out together.” Simmons offered a number of enhancements to its ComforPedic and Beautyrest Black collections. Most notable were three Beautyrest Black Beyond beds, priced at $3,499 to $4,999 in queen.* Components include cooling GelTouch, specialty foams and Variform Advanced Pocketed Coil springs. Mattresses are foam encased, have patented Transflexion Comfort Technology, luxury fabrics and bejeweled borders. At Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group, new consumer messaging and a rebranding campaign
*All prices are suggested retails for queen size, unless otherwise noted. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
were a central focus. The rebranding will leverage equity in the Leggett & Platt name and take six to 12 months to complete, said Herman Tam, vice president of marketing. The Leggett & Platt Fashion Bed brand, formerly the Fashion Bed Group, displayed 19 new frame models, priced between $299 and $599. A new website for the division went live at market. Spring Air President Rick Robinson said he “crisscrossed the country prior to the market, meeting with major accounts and closing significant business.” The licensing group has retooled its collections and cut extraneous SKUs.“Market should be a celebration of the work you’ve done leading up to it,” Robinson said. Four specialty beds were added to Sleep Sense, a Back Supporter collection introduced last market. The beds SleepSavvy • September 2010
seen & heard in Vegas
Eastman House’s Stuart Carlitz (left) and Matt Connolly rolled out the first beds in the company’s new Ernest Hemingway Fine Bedding collection.
have eco-friendly features, including a foam core made with some plantbased content, natural latex layers, a sustainable wood foundation and fabrics with natural fibers. The Sleep Sense line now includes eight beds, priced from $999 to $1,999. Anatomic Global has redesigned its showroom, its branded product line and its point-of-purchase materials. The new “Sleep By Design” concept makes it easier for consumers to find their comfort and support level by dividing the company’s EcoMemoryFoam beds into three color-coded series with graduated feels. Prices range from $799 to $2,999. New directions Several significant new brand and technology introductions stood out at the market. At Natura, select dealers could see The Sharper Image bed with “modulating foam technology.” Inventor Gino Giori was on hand to demonstrate the patented Personal Touch bed. The five-bed line adjusts to the sleeper via vacuum technology, providing a visco-elastic feel on a traditional polyurethane foam core with a portion of plant-based content. Comfort layers include latex, viscoelastic and gel. Beds retail for about
30 SleepSavvy • September 2010
Natura’s Scott Miller (left) and Gino Giori demonstrate the licensed Sharper Image Personal Touch bed, featuring modulating foam technology invented by Gioir.
$2,499 to $4,999. Vivon Life, an adjustable bed division of Chinese producer Zinus, launched its unusual, patent-pending Vivon Life Positional Mattress—all moving parts are built into the mattress core, not a separate frame. It’s available in 11-inch, 12-inch and 13.5-inch profiles. Retail prices are $1,800, $2,200 and $2,600 in twin XL, foundation not included. The top two have massage features. All have a proprietary polyurethane foam core made with part plant-based content, activated charcoal and green tea. Special “loop and toggle” Stay Fit sheets come with the bed. “There was a tremendous need for a breakthrough idea in a product category that even 65-year-olds say is ‘for older people’,” said Dennis Sones, Vivon chief marketing officer. “This bed is all about people who use technology to embrace a certain lifestyle.” Hollandia launched the iCon Bed as part of a new partnership with Therapedic International. The headboard has an iPad docking station; the foundation is an adjustable Trio base operated with two digital remotes. The bed’s core is Talalay latex covered with Hollandia’s signature 3-D Active Ventilation fabric. It retails for
$20,000. “There are so many people who come in to shop for a $2,000 or $3,000 bed, but are actually willing and able to spend much more,” said Avi Barssessat, Hollandia CEO. At the Eclipse and Eastman House showroom, the sun also rose on the Ernest Hemingway Fine Bedding line. Light glinted off the bed’s ornate border fabric, brown velvet bed streamers and high-end damask and knit covers. The license for Ernest Hemingway home furnishings is owned by furniture producer Thomasville. The threebed group is inner-tufted, features specialty foam comfort layers and retails for $1,299, $1,999 and $3,499. “Thomasville came to us and asked us to produce this line,” said Stuart Carlitz, president. “They’ve done an excellent job of promoting the brand through the years. It’s their No. 1 case goods collection and has sold over $650 million in the past 11 years.” At Simmons, retailers got a sneak preview of the prototype for its new Beautyrest Haute Couture collection, which will retail at $10,000 and up. The bed’s components remain a secret, but its mix of upholstery fabrics is fashion-inspired and feminine. Park Place Corp., touting its new Comfort Solutions license, also rolled www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
seen & heard in Vegas
Comfort Solutions’ Owen Shoemaker shows off the highly customizable features of the new top-of-the-line Delta Series in the Sleep iD collection.
out its T3 Recovery Mattresses with Ironman Sleep Technology. Suggested retail prices for the three T3 beds range from $1,499 to $2,499. T3 Recovery Products is the licensor for products associated with the worldwide Ironman triathlon series. Filling in the lines At many showrooms, the focus was on filling in price points and augmenting collections. Englander enlarged its collection of two-sided mattresses, adding Lifestyle 2, a three-bed group with up to 6 inches of 100% natural latex. The beds have 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch profiles and retail for $999 to $1,999. Gold Bond launched the plush Visco Coil futon, which combines visco-elastic with coils and retails for $349 in full size. It features an innerspring wrapped in cotton batting and 2.5 inches of visco-elastic foam with a cotton twill cover in seven color choices. The company also added three models to its Sacro Support collection, priced at $599 to $799. “These are two-sided beds with an edge-to-edge innerspring and a real box spring,” said President Bob Naboicheck. “They are more durable and give retailers something that the www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
At $3,999, Tempur-Pedic’s new Tempur-Cloud Luxe is the top of the plush Cloud collection, the company’s answer to pillowtops, according to Mike Mason.
competition just doesn’t have.” Restonic continues to “drill down on its growing reputation as a real value line,” said President Ron Passaglia. The group unveiled two promotional pillow-top models priced at $399 and $499 and added two HealthRest beds with Marshall coils and 3 inches of specialty foams, retailing for $1,499. The company is putting a lot of emphasis on marketing promotions for stores, including a new “Hot Buys” program that includes mailers, advertising art, point-of-sale materials and a TV spot. Tempur-Pedic put the focus on the high end with a redesigned GrandBed, which will ship in November at $6,999 retail. The company added a top bed to the plush Cloud collection—the Tempur-Cloud Luxe, retailing for $3,999, has a thicker layer of Tempur-ES foam, a knit cover with silk and bamboo viscose fibers and microsuede borders. It begins shipping this month. “The (three-bed) Cloud collection is designed to compete with pillow-tops. It’s a soft bed that is still very supportive,” said Mike Mason, director of brand development and integration. Classic Brands added three higherpriced beds to its all-foam Dormia
brand. The imported beds have zip-off knit covers, as well as memory foam and latex comfort layers. The new models carry retail prices from $1,299 to $1,499. MEGA Group USA put lots of mattresses on display at its first Vegas show. The buying group focused on the official launch of its exclusive Paula Deen Home by Serta line. Five models retail for $799 to $1,999 and have foam-encased wrapped coils, plus comfort layers of latex and specialty foam with plant-based content. Five Star Mattress focused on its rich-looking Esteemed Collection, seven foam-encased innerspring models priced from $399 to $999. The top bed has several layers of specialty foams and a box pillow-top. Mass customization Customization was king at some showrooms. Comfort Solutions showed new beds in its dual-sided Sleep iD collection, introduced last market. The new top-of-the-line Delta Series is even more customizable, with high-density visco-elastic foam and Talalay latex in reversible layers, plus an optional zippered-access top. The company has also fine-tuned its Sleep iD BodyMatch technology. The SleepSavvy • September 2010
seen & heard in Vegas
Hollandia’s Avi Barssessat (left) and Therapedic International’s Gerry Borreggine show off the features of the iCon Bed, which includes an iPad docking station and an adjustable base that operates with two remotes.
comfort assessment application has a new look, is easier to use and is now web-based. Dealers can post it to their websites, as well as offer it in-store. Organic Mattresses Inc. unveiled a new customization choice in the DUO bed. It zips open to reveal four 100% natural latex “plates,” two on each side. The two layers have four firmnesses and can be rearranged to suit each sleeper’s comfort preference. Suggested retail is $3,995. “Customers want comfort and flexibility,” said Walt Bader, president and CEO. “These mattresses allow you to adjust your comfort level as needed—and prevent the headache of comfort exchanges.” E.S. Kluft & Co. launched the Comfort Zone collection, which lets dealers showcase multiple comfort levels using just two display models. Four color-coded and removable 3-inch foam toppers provide different feels. The bed cores are either individually wrapped coils or latex, viscoelastic and polyurethane foams. Prices range from $2,500 to $5,000. Spring Air streamlined its Comfort Silhouette Imaging software into a simpler, more intuitive format called Passport. The CSI system helps retail-
32 SleepSavvy • September 2010
ers determine the correct level of support and comfort for each body. Each customer receives a “passport” that explains different types of specialty materials in mattresses and provides space for note-taking while shopping. Helping to make the sale New sales tools, marketing promotions and contests proliferated at this market. And many manufacturers made use of new media, whether it was an iPhone app, social media presence or streaming web video. Restonic made an array of new video footage available to its vendors for use online and in advertising spots. It also unveiled a social media-based communications strategy to reach its licensees, retailers and their employees. The strategy uses LinkedIn to connect licensees, a private Twitter feed for retailers and encourages employees to create and share videos. Simmons held an iSpy scavenger hunt and gave away nine iPads as a way to educate dealers about its new QR Tag technology. QR tags are small barcode-like visuals that consumers can scan in-store with their smart phones to obtain all types of product information.
Spring Air dealers were treated to cash prizes and special deals on Back Supporter models as part of the 84th anniversary celebration of the Spring Air brand and the first anniversary of Spring Air International. Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group released three new educational videos targeting consumers and retail sales associates. Two consumer video loops focus on “power foundations” and sleep accessories; the RSA video focuses on sales training. All are available online. Natura kicked off a year-long contest with a strong social media component to raise awareness of Sleep Envelope, a wool-filled cotton comforter and mattress pad set with Natural Silver Technology, retailing for $399 queen. The wool fill is temperature regulating, helping to keep sleeping partners with different needs comfortable. The contest grand prize is two trips to New Zealand. Comfort Solutions launched a “Where’s My New TV?” King Koil promotion that runs through January. Consumers can receive a 32-inch HD TV with the purchase of a $999 foamencased King Koil Grand Luxe bed. The campaign is backed by a national, multichannel marketing campaign. At the IBC showroom, Dr. Michael Breus, “The Sleep Doctor,” was on hand to explain his new House Call Program, designed to assist consumers after purchasing the Dr. Breus Bed, which was introduced last market. Purchasers receive a First Night Kit with sleep diary, night light and a thank-you note from the doctor. They can also receive ongoing sleep health and wellness information online from Breus, who is an author and clinical psychologist specializing in sleep disorders. The six-model foam and Celsion latex collection retails for $1,499 to $2,999. Jamie Piper, director of marketing communications at Sealy, said a social media campaign launched for www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
seen & heard in Vegas the Embody by Sealy specialty sleep line is part of an overall strategy to differentiate Sealy brands in the social media space. Consumers can connect with the Embody brand via Facebook, Twitter, blogs and traditional advertising and be among the first to hear about new contests and sweepstakes. On Facebook and Twitter and in a series of comic webisodes, Serta is drawing attention to its brand and the Trump Home collection just in time for Labor Day sales. A central focus is “Counting Sheep for Hire,” a contest in which the public is invited to convince Donald Trump to hire the unemployed herd. The grand prize is a getaway at Trump Luxury Suites in Las Vegas. Englander is running a “What’s Your Bedtime Story?” video contest through September. Consumers are urged to upload a video of their bedtime ritual to the contest website and encourage their friends to vote on the entries. The winner receives an ultrapremium mattress set. Foam bed maker EcoSleep displayed the CertiPUR-US seal on all of its models. CertiPUR-US is a voluntary certification program that tests polyurethane foams for physical performance, indoor emissions and environmental stewardship. “This is one more point of differentiation from our competitors and builds on our communication of an eco-story,” said Mike Schweiger, vice president. A peek at new accessories Many mattress makers added to their pillow offerings at market, but Durable Products Co. took a step in a different direction with the unveiling of a pillow-making kiosk for retail stores. The Dream Machine adds “an element of retail theater to your store, drawing new and repeat customers,” said Dave Young, company owner (and also CEO of VyMaC). The swirling pillow fill behind the machine’s glass windows is an 80/20 www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus explained the new House Call postsale program for his line with IBC.
Dave Young of Durable Products Co. unveiled a pillow-making kiosk for ‘an element of retail theater.’
blend of Everlon fiber and duck down. Electronic controls allow the sales associate to fill each pillow to the customer’s specifications and create monogrammed messages on each pillow’s zippered, washable cover. Prices range from $45 to $150. Luxury Italian brand Magniflex introduced seven new ergonomic pillows that provide support for neck, lower back and other areas. All have Magniflex’s trademarked open-cell, visco-elastic foam and retail for $89 to $159. Magniflex dealers qualify to receive a new, customizable accessories rack free with a $2,000 accessories purchase and two racks with $3,000 in purchases. Mattress and accessories importer Reverie offered a new Sweet Slumber pillow with shredded latex fill and the feel of down. It retails for $100 to $150. Sleep Harmony, an imported mattress and pillow line from Glideaway, added latex to its pillow line-up. Three new pillows, retailing for $59 and $69, feature Talalay latex or a combination of latex and visco-elastic. Market activity was also brisk in mattress protection. Sean Bergman, vice president of sales and marketing
for Fabrictech, said a strong emphasis on consumer health is behind his company’s rebranding of the PureCare mattress and pillow protection collection. The premium protectors contain anti-bacterial silver ions said to kill 99.9% of bacteria. Pillow covers retail for $39; mattress protection is $119 to $169 in queen. Protect-A-Bed showcased a backto-school Student Bedding Protection Kit that retails for $99 in twin XL. It includes bed bug-proof mattress and pillow encasements, plus a mattress protector that goes atop the encasement. The company also introduced the Luxury Sleep Story, a sheet set made with Tencel fiber. The fitted bottom sheet features the company’s Miracle Membrane, which protects the sleeper and the mattress from moisture and allergens. The queen size retails for $189. ●
Coming in the Nov/Dec issue With mattress protection and pillow options proliferating, find out from the experts how to incorporate these marginbuilding product categories into every mattress sale.
SleepSavvy • September 2010
The Sleep Envelope™ Fitted Deluxe Mattress Protector • Washable NaturaWool™ Comforter • A complete sleep solution supported • by a money back guarantee
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