The magazine for sleep products professionals
The cover story
Appealing to the new ‘green’ consumer
RETAIL ROAD TRIP
Younger generation takes reins at Oklahoma’s Mattress Sleepcenters BE MY GUEST
The word that really matters in successful retailing? ‘Connection’ MARKET SCENE
Vegas abounds in hot showstoppers, cool gels, POP programs with ‘wow’
THEY LOVED IT...YOU WILL TOO.
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[ home textiles ] © 2011 Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Group, a division of Leggett & Platt, Incorporated
IN THIS ISSUE where to find it
THE COVER STORY
appealing to the new ‘green’ consumer Today’s cash-conscious consumers may not be willing to spend a lot of green on green. But studies show sustainability, personal health and a safe home environment do matter. So, your store’s green practices and products could be important competitive factors.
WAKE UP CALL
from the editor’s desk
Readers say mattress ads have to focus on low price points to get customers in the door. It’s up to the RSAs what happens after that.
stuff you can use
Better Sleep Council’s ‘Stop Zombieitis!’ campaign spreads to teens and their parents; the perils of prejudging your customers; mattress sales up 7.2% for first half; study shows shoppers are swayed by store appearance; sleep boosts athletic performance... and more.
BE MY GUEST by Susie Pecuch
Making a connection with consumers is about moving them to come in, to know you, to remember you, to care about you.
BACK TALK supporting customer dreams
We all need great support—along with comfort— to get a great night’s sleep.
33 36 41
CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer
New Census shows older Americans gaining power; Nielsen portrays stronger role for women.
MARKET SCENE Las Vegas highlights
Cool gels, hot accessories, eye-catching POP were among the highlights of the summer market in Las Vegas. Take a tour in Sleep Savvy’s extended album of on-site photos.
CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris Part 2 of Gerry’s analysis of common consumer attitudes, together with ways to address them.
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene The Hegert family’s Mattress Sleepcenters score success in tough Oklahoma City market with personalized service and solid product presentation.
SleepSavvy • September 2011
You and your customers can support The Ronald McDonald Charities Mattress Program, which offers a full featured Special Edition Sealy ProBack mattress. The queen-size mattress set is priced at $999, AND it offers you a generous gross margin, and it still leaves room for a donation of $50 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada with each mattress sold ! CALL US for more details on this exclusive BRANDSOURCE速 Canada program !
Gerry Wong Director - Bedding and Sleep Experience 1-800-361-5928 # 225 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruno Pittarelli 514-346-2653 email@example.com
You can also visit us at www.megagroup.ca
8/24/11 4:37:09 PM
SleepSavvy The magazine for sleep products professionals
Editor in Chief Nancy Butler 828-299-7420 firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Editor Barbara Nelles 336-856-8973 email@example.com Contributors Don McNay Gerry Morris Susie Pecuch Cindy Williams Creative Director Stephanie Belcher The Jimmydog Design Group firstname.lastname@example.org Vice President of Advertising Sales Kerri Bellias 336-945-0265 email@example.com Advertising Services Manager Debbie Robbins 571-482-5443 firstname.lastname@example.org Circulation Manager Mary Rulli 336-491-0443 email@example.com Copy Editor Margaret Talley-Seijn Vol. 10, 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: 1613 Country Club Dr., Reidsville, North Carolina 27320. Phone 571-482-5443. Fax 703-683-4503. Please send subscription orders and changes to: Sleep Savvy, P.O. Box 4678, Archdale, North Carolina 27263 or 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: ISPA member company personnel qualify for complimentary subscriptions, subject to restrictions. Nonmembers and others: $30 U.S., $40 non-U.S. ©2011 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
Ads have to tout price—it’s up to the RSAs to sell value
y last column (July/August issue) got just a handful of reader responses to my frustration about retailers’ seeming resistance to changing their traditional approach to advertising and selling mattresses. But those responses were thoughtful and engaging, so I thought I’d share some of the comments with you. One veteran furniture store owner pointed out that we have trained the consumer what to expect. “Now, if I don’t scream at the top of my lungs ‘Savings! Free! Free! Free!’, I don’t draw enough people in the door— mainly because the guy down the street is screaming at the top of his lungs.” Retailers would like nothing better than to get away from low-price advertising, he said, but that’s what works. “Once the customer has been assured by our advertising that we really do have a $399 pillowtop set—then they will come on in. We all know they don’t really want a $399 pillowtop. Once they show up, that is when the real core of who we are reveals itself.” As he tells his staff, “Just because the advertising is loud and obnoxious, that doesn’t mean the experience of buying a new mattress has to be.” Another industry veteran who spent many years in management with a big sleep shop chain said that consumers pay no attention to mattress ads until they’re in the market. And when they are, an ad better grab their attention. “If everything else is equal, a consumer will probably shop where they perceive the price to be the lowest,” he wrote. “Most consumers respond to pricing as it gives them a point of comparison.” Making sure they don’t actually buy the advertised price rests with the RSA.
“The salesperson is the key to developing rapport and establishing the value and quality that the consumer is looking for. A seasoned mattress salesperson can match the consumer’s sleeping needs and quality desires with the proper level mattress.” So, once again, we come face to face with the single most important factor in the formula for mattress sales success: That’s you, Mr. or Ms. RSA. Feeling a bit pressured? I heard from an RSA at a sleep shop chain who finds the assignment daunting. “I always describe it as trying to convert someone’s religion in 20 minutes or less. They walk in the door with their own set of rules, expectations and mental roadblocks, and we have to adapt to that as if we were certified psychiatric experts rather than bedding consultants.” “What is at issue is influencing the public perception of value in a mattress before they ever leave the house. Consumers need to be open to considering a quality mattress investment before they walk through our doors,” he wrote. “The single most important thing the industry can do about this is step away from low price-point advertising and focus on the benefits of a great mattress. Specialty/ alternative mattress manufacturers have been extremely successful with this in their own advertising. Why can’t retailers simply do the same?”
firstname.lastname@example.org SleepSavvy • September 2011
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SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use
Better Sleep Council’s ‘Stop Zombieitis!’ campaign targets teens this fall The Better Sleep Council (BSC) is sounding the alarm that teenagers around the world are exhibiting symptoms of chronic Zombieitis—also known as sleep deprivation—at unprecedented rates. The only hope for a cure is 9-10 hours of nightly sleep—on a quality mattress, of course. The BSC’s “Stop Back to School Zombieitis” campaign kicked off in August and is continuing throughout the fall. BSC is using traditional and social media to alert parents and teens about the dangers of Zombieitis, which causes its victims to exhibit Zombie-like symptoms, including irritability, depression, anxiety, apathy, decreased brain function and a distracted disposition. Teens are sleeping about two hours less than they should, according to the National Sleep Foundation. After a long day at school and extracurricular activities, they’re spending too many nighttime hours texting, tweeting and otherwise electronically engaged. “Lack of sleep has been associated with a decrease in mental aptitude in multiple studies and is one of the most basic needs for memory function,” warns Karin Mahoney, BSC’s director of communications. “Getting the right amount of sleep on a quality mattress is an important element to a successful school year.”
The BSC’s battle to end the Zombieitis epidemic continues...stay tuned.
Where to learn more about the ‘Stop Zombieitis!’ campaign ➤C ampaign Microsite: www.StopZombieitis.com ➤ On Facebook: facebook.com/StopZombieitis ➤ On Twitter: twitter.com/StopZombieitis ➤ On Youtube: youtube.com/user/StopZombieitis ➤ And for a Zombieitis Survival Toolkit for Retailers, be sure to visit www.sleepsavvymagazine.com.
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great
— William Arthur Ward
Survey: Mattress contributes to good sleep As part of its fall “Stop Zombieitis!” program targeting at-risk teens, the Better Sleep Council (BSC) conducted an online survey of teen sleeping habits and parental attitudes in August. Here are a couple of highlights from the survey: ● 89% of surveyed parents with teenage children (13-18) believe that a quality mattress helps their teens get a good night’s sleep. ● 40% of parents with teenagers say their kids get better grades by getting more sleep. ● 54% of parents report their teens sleep on mattresses that are 1-5 years old. For more on the BSC survey findings, visit www.bettersleep.org or look in the Retailer Toolkit at www.sleepsavvymagazine.com. SleepSavvy • September 2011
stuff you can use
Listening to the consumer
Consumers are conflicted about sustainability
very retailer is looking for products or services that will provide differentiation. One way in which mattress retailers attempt to differentiate themselves is by offering sustainable, environmentally friendly sleep products. However, research shows that sustainable products are still a pretty tough sell. The reality is that the majority of consumers are not driven to buy based solely on the sustainability of a product. There is no doubt in my mind that, if asked, any American would say that he or she is concerned about the environment. If asked whether they would like more sustainable products from which to choose, again most would probably say yes. However, research on actual purchase behavior indicates that if consumers have to choose between sustainability and other factors, such as product relevance, price or quality, they seldom choose sustainability. According to a recent Ogilvy Earth study, 82% of Americans are concerned about sustainability, but only 16% of them are concerned enough to purchase based on sustainability alone. A full 66% are what I call “environmentally conflicted” consumers. They want to support a healthier environment, but not at the expense of quality or their pocketbook. I admit that I often fall into this category. In addition, “greenwashing” has definitely muddied the water, causing “sustainable” to become just another confus-
ing buzzword. Many consumers are unwilling to invest the time needed to determine whether a product is truly sustainable or if it’s just marketing hype. So make sure your sales associates completely understand what sustainable product claims do and do not mean before selling these products. Sustainable products can be a great addition to your lineup, but only if they are considered in light of what is relevant to the consumer. In other words, the product has to deliver on price, quality and service first. Sustainability is the icing on the cake. A true sustainability strategy has three pillars: environment, business and people. Each pillar must have a strategy developed around it that takes the other two pillars into consideration. Balance sustainability with other important purchase motivators and you find the differentiation you are looking for. Cindy Williams is vice president of client services at Atlanta-based Info Retail, a firm that helps retailers and manufacturers improve customer buying experiences. Contact Cindy through the company website at www.inforetail.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cinwilliams.
The persuasive power of touch
ccording to a story on PsyBlog, which looked at a variety of studies, touching someone lightly can be surprisingly persuasive. Consider these findings: ● 90% of strangers who were touched lightly on the arm helped a researcher pick up dropped items. If not touched, 63% helped. ● 81% of participants agreed to sign a petition if touched, while 55% of those who were not touched agreed. ● When researchers asked strangers to fill out a questionnaire, people who were touched twice were more likely to agree than those who were
6 SleepSavvy • September 2011
only touched once. (Results were highest when females touched males.) ● Waitresses who touch customers are more likely to receive a bigger tip. ● Researchers approached men shopping for used cars. Half were touched for one second, the other half were not touched. Those who were touched later rated the “toucher” as more friendly, honest and sincere. So a judiciously used light touch could be a tool for retail sales asso-
ciates to consider. However, the U.K.-based website concluded with some important cautionary notes: Being touched can have widely different meanings depending on situation, culture and gender. Generally, the touch referred to is a light touch on the upper arm—the safest place to touch someone you don’t know. Also, research has identified a small proportion of men and women who don’t like to be touched at all during everyday interactions. These people are unlikely to respond positively to even the lightest touch. To read the full article, go to www.spring.org.uk/2011/04/10psychological-effects-of-nonsexualtouch.php. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
stuff you can use
The peril of prejudging your customers By Don McNay wo friends who were jewelry shopping went into a locally owned store here in Kentucky. They were treated with respect by a knowledgeable salesperson. They then decided to compare by going to a nationally owned chain. The salesman at the chain asked them where they were from. When they mentioned an economically challenged city outside of Lexington, the salesman immediately blew them off. He didn’t want to talk to them and then pointed them to the cheapest stuff in the store. Guess who got the business? It reminds me of Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive in the scene in Pretty Woman. If the salesman is working on commission,
he missed one that would have made his house payment. Or his car payment. Probably both. In this economy, I can’t imagine how anyone would look down their nose at a potential customer, but I see it all the time. I see it at car dealerships, restaurants and all kinds of places that ought to know better. You can’t judge a person by the clothes they wear or the city they live in. People with real money are usually the last to flash it. As Dr. Thomas Stanley pointed out in the Millionaire Next Door, people with real wealth are more likely to drive pickup trucks than BMWs. Shopping for a new bed One of my friends is one of the most successful medical malpractice attorneys in the U.S. He and his wife decid-
ed they needed a new bed. He rolled out of bed on a Saturday, unshaven and in old clothes, and went to a furniture store. They started looking at beds suited for their very expensive home. The salesman came over in horror and tried to steer my buddy to stuff that people would buy for entry-level houses or apartments. My friend went to every expensive bed in the place, tested them by diving on them and rolling around, then walked out and got what he wanted another store. I do a lot of business in small towns that don’t have much of a social registry. One of my friends who fixes up junked cars and drives them as a primary vehicle is one of the wealthiest people I know. He revels in the fact that no
one knows about his wealth. He used to tell people he was a janitor. He got ignored by a lot of salespeople. The ones that did talk to him made a ton of money over the years. A simple but good lesson to learn. This column originally appeared on The Huffington Post website, July 6, 2011. Don McNay is an awardwinning financial columnist based in Richmond, KY. He is the founder of McNay Settlement Group and Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC and is a Quarter Century member of the Million Dollar Round Table.
JUST FOR LAUGHS
Sex, food…or sleep?
ontrary to popular myth (and recent high-profile political scandals) men don’t think about sex all the time. In fact, men think more about food and sleep, according to a recent study at Ohio State University in Columbus. Researchers gave 283 college students—163 women and 120 men—a golf tally counter and asked them to record their thoughts on sex, food and sleep for a week. The guys did report thinking about sex roughly twice as often as the women, but they also thought more about food and sleep than sex. The study appeared in the Journal of Sex Research on April 28.
SleepSavvy • September 2011
stuff you can use
Macy’s ‘Mag ic’
New Art Van line goes to the dogs
op-100 retailer Art Van Furniture recently introduced a line of comfy beds and furniture for the family dog. The collection has been named— what else?—Arf Van. The items are only sold online at www.artvan.com, but dog owners can fetch them at any Art Van store across Michigan. The line—“For humans owned by their dogs”— includes 15 bed SKUs priced from $29.99 for the basic faux suede-covered Diva Bed or Stud Bed up to $429.99 for the leather-upholstered Beau Dog Bed with nail-head trim (shown above). Arf Van also features pet-crate end tables and wood pet stations for feeding and storage. Sleep Savvy gives Art Van an “atta boy” for tapping into the $40-billion-a-year pampered pet business.
Meet and m connectio ake a n. Ask questio ns Give option and listen. s an Inspire to b d advice. uy. Celebrate th e purcha se.
Macy’s new corporate training program for RSAs dispenses with previously required scripted steps in favor of “Magic.”
BEDDING BIZ BEAT Dollar sales (wholesale) of mattresses and foundations rose nicely in June, up 9.5% from June 2010. For the first half of 2011, the ISPA sample of leading manufacturers reported sales up 7.2% compared to the first six months of 2010. First half unit sales rose 2.1%, reflecting an average unit price increase of 5.1%.
Mattresses & Foundations in Millions of Wholesale Dollars Sample of Leading Producers
$448 $355 $367
Percent change +3.3%
Percent change +4.9%
Percent change +17.6%
Percent change +3.8%
Percent change +5.0%
Percent change +9.5%
■ 2010 ■ 2011
8 SleepSavvy • September 2011
stuff you can use
Shoppers swayed by store appearance? You bet! Poll: Making money n a recent Morpace Omnibus survey, 95% of shoppers said exterior with ‘Made in America’ appearance is important in their selection of a place to shop.
More than two-thirds of consumers say they have avoided a store based on how it looked from the outside. Half have avoided a store because it looked dirty. A third chose not to enter because it “didn’t look like a place I would normally shop.” These consumers may not have been able to put a finger on exactly why they didn’t want to shop there, but there was something about the store’s appearance that gave them pause. When considering what’s important in choosing a place to shop, cleanliness and organization are as important as cusAppearance factor that most influenced tomer service and price, a decision to not go into a store Morpace reported. 52% More than 80% of consumers said they have 39% had the experience of 11% visiting a store once and never returning because it did not meet their expecDidn’t look Looked dirty Looked tations. A third chose not like place from the outdated/old I would outside from the to returned to a store normally outside because it was perceived shop/visit as dirty.
he majority of Americans (60%) say a “Made in the U.S.A” claim influences their purchasing decision across a wide range of product categories, including home furnishings/ appliances and “home domestics.” According to Perception Research Services International, which polled 1,500 shoppers, marketers of products made in America would do well to prominently highlight that fact. “In addition to the overt indication of helping the economy, our research also revealed a subtle sense that ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ provides a reassurance of quality and safety,” says Jonathan Asher, PRS senior vice president. If you’re a U.S. retailer, your store is almost certainly selling mattresses made here. So don’t be shy—let customers know.
SleepSavvy • September 2011
stuff you can use
Did you know you can read SS online?
an’t wait to receive your next issue of Sleep Savvy? Every issue is posted in electronic format on the magazine’s website, www.sleepsavvymagazine.com, the first week of the month of publication. So it’s available for you to read several weeks before it arrives in
your regular mail. In fact, if you prefer, we can put you on our “digital only” subscription list and notify you by email as soon as each new issue is ready. Just email Mary Rulli, circulation manager, email@example.com. Looking for a story in a back
Sleep boosts athletic performance
Athletes wanting to improve their game should put in long hours of sleep, according to Cheri Mah, a researcher in the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, who studied college basketball players. Most athletes focus on nutrition and physical training, Mah said, but competitive athletes typically don’t consider optimizing their sleep. “Intuitively many players and coaches know that rest and sleep are important, but it’s often the first to be sacrificed,” she said. Over the course of two basketball seasons, Mah and her colleagues worked with 11 healthy players to measure the effects of longer sleep on specific measures of performance. Players maintained their normal sleep schedule (six to nine hours) for two to four weeks and then targeted 10 hours each night for five to seven weeks. The well-rested players ran faster sprints and improved their shooting accuracy—both free-throw and 3-point field-goal success rose by about 9%. Sleep is an “unrecognized, but likely critical factor in reaching peak performance,” Mah said. The study appeared in the July issue of the journal SLEEP.
Why don’t we fall out of bed? A reader of the syndicated column Strange But True asked the Sones brothers, who write the column, that very question. Here’s their reply: “There are many opportunities for accidental selfinjury during sleep: twisting our PJs round our limbs and neck, lying on vulnerable body parts, suffocating in the
10 SleepSavvy • September 2011
issue? The website’s Editorial Library features electronic issues all the way back to Jan/Feb 2009.
pillows and, of course, falling out of bed,” says gerontologist Kevin Morgan of Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre (England). “Fact is, we’ve evolved our sleep to stay safe at night; as sight-dependent animals, we’re a bit of a liability to ourselves stumbling around in the darkness, almost sure to end up as a meal! Along with sleep comes an internal monitoring system—we remain by and large sensitive to discomfort, sound and movement, adjusting our positions regularly while staying aware of the dimensions of our sleeping space.”
Her sleep problems cause marital stress New research shows that difficulty falling asleep at night is associated with negative marital interactions the next day— but only if it’s the wife who’s having the problem. The quality of the husband’s sleep had no such effect. “We found that wives’ sleep problems affect her own and her spouse’s marital functioning the next day and these effects were independent of depressive symptoms,” said researcher Wendy Troxel, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The study involved 32 healthy, married couples at a median age of 32 whose interactions were assessed over 10 days. “These results highlight the importance of considering the interpersonal consequences of sleep and sleep loss,” Troxel said.
The cover story
Appealing to the new ‘green’ consumer By Barbara Nelles
12 SleepSavvy • September 2011
oday’s cash-strapped consumer is pragmatic about buying green. She won’t shell out more green to get green, as one researcher put it. But she does tend to favor products, services and stores with a sustainability story—as long as the price is comparable. In other words, your store’s sustainable practices and greener products can be the tiebreaker that makes the sale. Consumers care about the environment, but with a new twist—many are more concerned about “personal environments,” with a focus on health and safety. A typical green consumer today is more likely to be operating on the principle of “enlightened self-interest,” says the Integer Group M/A/R/C Research study released in March. Consumers are looking for “greenvenience” and products that promote the health and well-being of their own families. Since 2009, the percentage of Americans who believe that humans are impacting the earth’s climate has declined from 59% to 48%. But a recent Yale and George Mason University study shows that 44% of American consumers have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products—an increase of 11% since June 2010. According to research from the Shelton Group, which specializes in sustainability marketing, more U.S. consumers would rather “give the world clean water” (35.3%), than receive $1 million in cash (28%). Shelton’s annual research, “Eco Pulse 2011,” also says 64% of Americans recycle cans, bottles and newspapers; 55% have replaced most light bulbs in their homes with compact fluorescent or LED lighting; and 54% have purchased an Energy Star-qualified appliance.
SleepSavvy • September 2011
THE COVER STORY
appealing to the new ‘green’ consumer One of the most important things a retailer can do in lean times is to implement energy conservation initiatives. Window films, light timers, high-efficiency lighting and programmable thermostats all rapidly translate into money in your pocket. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2010 annual study “Lean and Green,” money-saving green measures have become mainstream. Retailers, says NRF, “waste less energy, recycle more, leverage their power to reduce extraneous packaging more, utilize energy management in their distribution centers more, have more end-of-life disposal programs, have replaced more energy-inefficient equipment, utilize more IT hardware consolidation, send customers out of their stores with less take-home waste, and are more involved in community environmental initiatives.” How about your store? Are you keeping pace and realizing the savings? Far fewer retailers today view being green as a “fad”—just 4% in 2011 vs. 19% in 2009, according to NRF. A significant majority (77%) agree that there are major brand benefits to marketing a store’s sustainability initiatives to consumers. NRF recommends that retailers share with consumers all they do in trying to operate more sustainably: “Speak legitimately, be honest about your frustrations and challenges. Nothing speaks more to consumers these days than relevancy and transparency. They also need the connection to their own lives…It’s easy to feel good about a retailer who can tell a customer, ‘We reduced carbon emissions in your neighborhood by 10%.’” How do you let it be known that your store cares about sustainability? Susan Inglis, executive director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, a third-party certifying organization, offers some examples: “Have a recy-
14 SleepSavvy • September 2011
cling bin next to every trash can in your store. Next to the bin put a sign with information on how your store is reducing the amount of waste going to landfills, saving trees by recycling paper, etc. Right next to that sign, provide a list of products in your stores that are made with sustainable, recycled or reclaimed materials.” Green products ‘life enhancing’ Shelton’s “Eco Pulse 2011” study reveals that “despite the economy and contrary to what you might
think, the number of people searching for greener products has actually risen since 2009, increasing almost 10 percentage points,” says CEO Suzanne Shelton. “Today, almost seven in 10 American consumers say they’re searching for sustainable products,” she says. “In fact, green buying behavior seems to be crossing all socioeconomic classes. This is an indication that going green has shifted into being part of the solution for enhancing a consumer’s life, even
BBMG profiles the ‘new consumer’
n March, branding firm BBMG released its latest consumer research, “Unleashed: How New Consumers Will Revolutionize Brands and Scale Sustainability.” Findings indicate that the recession has “extended beyond a cycle to an economic, social and psychological ‘reset’.” Part of that reset is the “30% of U.S. adults who are a bridge between the darkest green consumer and the mainstream shopper,” says Chief Strategy Officer Raphael Bemporad. These 70 million-strong new consumers are “values-aspirational, practical purchasers who care about health and sustainability but are juggling tight budgets and busy schedules.” The new consumer is a more youthful, more wired and mostly female group of highly influential consumers. Keep her in mind when devising sustainability strategies, BBMG advises. She is an early adopter, a blogger and a “tipping point” shopper. “She shops at both Target and the local farmers market. She seeks to engage with brands. She reads ingredient lists and the fine print on product seals and certifications.” The new consumer is more frugal and buys only what she needs when she needs it. She is interested where a product comes from, what it’s made of and what happens to a product at the end of its lifecycle. One in three new consumers strongly agrees it’s important to purchase products with social and environmental benefits, even in a tough economy, says BBMG.
THE COVER STORY
appealing to the new ‘green’ consumer
CertiPUR-US seal inspires consumer confidence
number of mattress brands have begun shipping beds that carry the CertiPUR-US hangtag with seal. CertiPUR-US is a voluntary foam-testing certification and labeling program introduced in 2008, administered by the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam. CertiPUR-US foams undergo third-party laboratory analysis that examines VOC emissions and foam chemistry. Products must be manufactured without the use of substances such as ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, methylene chloride, PBDE fire retardants, lead, mercury, prohibited phthalates and other materials of concern. CertiPUR-US also sets baseline requirements for foam physical performance regarding comfort and durability. Once a foam qualifies, the manufacturer must undergo periodic tests to prove continued compliance with program requirements. While CertiPUR-US is not by definition a green program—for instance, there are no requirements for renewable content or energy reduction in foam production—the program does help address many concerns in the minds of today’s consumer about health, safety and indoor environments. “Our value is to give consumers assurance that the foam will perform well, have low emissions and is made without certain harmful substances such as prohibited phthalates and heavy metals,” says Helen Sullivan, CertiPUR-US communications counsel. “This is a nice value-added tool for retailers, because many consumers are beginning to ask questions about health, safety and what’s inside their mattresses. It’s a program whose time has come and it will become increasingly important.”
during the Great Recession.” The jury is still out on how successfully this can translate to large purchases like mattresses and furniture. Consumables like cleaning products are still the largest category for greener products, “but 23% of consumers consistently buy green over multiple product categories,” says Shelton, adding that shopping for greener furniture has held steady year over year. If your store is carrying mattress lines with a sustainability story, ask those vendors to provide a list of all the green components in their beds, with specific details and copies of any certificates relating to green www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
contents. Make sure you understand all green terms or language being used—and can explain it to customers accurately. Here are a couple of green basics you might want to share with shoppers: 80% to 100% of steel used in innerspring beds is recycled and much of the lumber used in foundations is taken from certified sustainable forests. But before regaling customers with your store’s green initiatives and products, RSAs should understand that green shoppers are a diverse group, says Shelton. RSAs will do well to qualify a customer’s “sustainability quotient” in the mattress
qualifying process. Not all consumers are receptive to the same messaging. Consumers have varying levels of commitment and different motivations for green purchases. The most active green consumer is a welleducated female homeowner with a family who cares about everything from global warming to indoor air quality. The most skeptical consumers are older, less educated, with household incomes below $55,000. They are unconvinced about global warming, but they will “buy local” or “Made in America” as a form of patriotism. Here’s the bottom line: Apart from those deeply committed to a green lifestyle—the “darkest” green consumers—most Americans “will try a greener product if it is comparably priced and offered by a known brand,” Shelton says. “But if helping the planet is the only benefit, most consumers aren’t willing to pay the extra cost.” ‘Green’ dazed and confused The No. 1 way consumers decide whether a product is green is by reading product labels. “But there are many terms consumers simply haven’t been able to wrap their brains around,” Shelton says. That goes for RSAs too. Who can explain the significance of GOTS certification (Global Organic Textile Standard, www.global-standard. org) or the Oeko-Tex textile safety standards (www.oeko-tex.com) or the USDA NOP (the USDA National Organic Program, www.ams.usda. gov/AMSv1.0/nop)? Many of today’s greener mattresses contain some components that meet these standards. Green labeling can be a confusing “VOC and PBDE alphabet soup” that completely befuddles consumers, Shelton says. “Many shoppers don’t know what ‘natural’ and SleepSavvy • September 2011
THE COVER STORY
appealing to the new ‘green’ consumer
ISPA puts a priority on environmental responsibility
nternational Sleep Products Association President Ryan Trainer says the 96-year-old trade organization is working on a number of sustainability-related initiatives, including efforts to facilitate the proper disposal of mattresses at the end of their useful life and the use of clear, well-defined words to describe sleep products. ISPA has a long history of supporting environmental safety and health within the industry it represents, Trainer says. “For generations, the mattress industry has provided consumers with the products they need for a safe and restful night’s sleep. We have a responsibility to operate our businesses in an environmentally sound and economically practical fashion while considering the impact we will have on future generations. This begins at the materials sourcing stage and proceeds through manufacturing, sales, distribution and disposal of the used product.” “The products we make must be safe for consumers, the workers that assemble them, and the environment,” Trainer emphasizes. ISPA supports policies that encourage the use of fact-based terms to describe the environmental characteristics of sleep products. “These include efforts by the Federal Trade Commission, the USDA’s National Organic Program and various private groups to define relevant environmental terminology that manufacturers and retailers can use to avoid the kinds of product claims that too often confuse or deceive consumers—better known as ‘greenwashing’,” Trainer says. In recent years, ISPA has encouraged the proper recycling of used mattress materials. “Recycling steel wire, foam and other materials reclaimed from discarded and dismantled mattresses conserves resources and reduces solid waste disposal,” Trainer says. “To encourage this process, ISPA helps recyclers learn about the industry, identify potential sources for used mattresses and locate outlets for the recycled materials.” The association also helps test different recycling methods, supports government policies that encourage efficient recycling and educates decision makers. To locate a mattress recycler that may serve your market, visit ISPA’s website at www.sleepproducts.org/Sustainability/RecyclingFacilities.php.
‘organic’ mean. Consumers are more likely to prefer ‘natural’ because it sounds less expensive. When a label says ‘bio-based’ or ‘soy content’, some wonder, ‘Will my dog want to eat it?’” The various green features of a particular bed can be difficult for an RSA to explain, or even understand. The Specialty Sleep Association’s recently introduced Environmental
16 SleepSavvy • September 2011
& Safety Program, with its consumer-declaration tags, is meant to clear up some of the confusion. The SSA program provides three grades of environmental seals, with a fourth in development. Seal hangtags spell out the mattress’s green certifications and qualifications. A contents label specified by the SSA describes the mattress components. Manufacturers must go through an
application process to be accepted into the program. “For retailers, the SSA program means you don’t need to spend hours training RSAs on selling green,” explains SSA President Dale Read. “They can tell the consumer what’s inside the mattress and then get back to selling comfort and better sleep.” SSA includes health and safety concerns as part of a product’s green assessment. The group’s 2009 research showed that 39% of consumers were concerned about “harmful ingredients and things like off-gassing in mattresses—they want to be assured about the safety of what’s inside,” says Read. SFC’s Inglis agrees that consumers are increasingly concerned when someone in their family has a health problem like asthma, which can be aggravated by VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and allergens. The SFC recently rolled out a program that extends its sustainability rating system for manufacturers to retailers. Stores can enroll in the organization’s sustainability training program and earn points based on their product mix, store operations and more. FTC revising ‘Green Guides’ Formally known as the “Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims,” the Federal Trade Commission’s “Green Guides” were introduced in 1992. The most recent revision was in 1998 and another round of revisions is now underway. The guides provide recommendations on the marketing and labeling of so-called “eco-friendly” products. Retailers can check out the proposed—but not yet finalized—guides online. (See the “Where to find out more” section on page 20.) “The pending guidelines obligate you to represent the products you’re selling accurately,” Read says. “Be www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
THE COVER STORY
appealing to the new ‘green’ consumer especially careful if you wander into the ‘organic’ arena. That USDA label only goes on agricultural products, such as cotton and wool.” The USDA’s National Organic Program already defines the term “organic” for food and other agricultural products such as the fiber used in some textiles. The NOP staff has taken the position that while the yarn in a fabric may be certified organic or some of the latex may be certified organic, the mattress itself cannot be represented as USDA organic. The FTC’s proposed revisions to its Green Guides defer to USDA regarding organic claims for textile products. FTC has requested public comment on what guidance, if any, it should provide regarding the use of organic claims for nonag-
ricultural products. The proposed revisions define how terms like “degradable,” “recyclable,” “renewable content,” “non-toxic” and others can be used in marketing claims—including claims made by retailers, not just manufacturers. They also spell out the manufacturer’s responsibilities when using third-party certifications and seals of approval. In an October 2010 press release (www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/10/ greenguide.shtm), the FTC cautioned against making blanket claims about a product being “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” because “very few products, if any, have all of the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making them nearly impossible to substantiate.”
The proposed FTC guides also advise marketers to avoid using generic terms such as “natural” or “sustainable” unless they are very carefully qualified. SSA, says Read, is “urging marketers to avoid the use of non-specific environmental terms such as ‘green’ or ‘ecofriendly’.” Since 2008, the FTC has charged several companies with “greenwashing” and has also sent several dozen warnings, including some to several of the nation’s largest retailers—as well as some notso-big companies. For example, the FTC has entered into settlements with several companies that marketed apparel containing rayon made from bamboo fiber as “made from bamboo fiber” on the
Fresh ‘green’ products hit summer market
he field of “eco-friendly” products available from mattress manufacturers continues to grow, but at a slower pace in an economy where consumer dollars available for big-ticket green spending are less plentiful. Some of the biggest names in bedding have opted out of what they see as a niche market, at least for now. But others showing at last month’s Las Vegas Market put a distinct spotlight on mattresses with fresh green stories designed to help retailers appeal to sustainability conscious consumers. Green mattresses run the gamut from those featuring some natural or organic elements—such as covers containing fiber derived from a renewable resource or foam formulated with a percentage of plant-based chemicals—to “greener” constructions, such as 100% pure latex cores paired with organic cotton covers. Some products are even certified organic under the Global Organic Textile Standard program (GOTS). The latter category of “dark green” goods is, for the most part, manufactured by niche producers and fetches premium prices. But mainstream green offerings that boast a percentage of soy content or layers of latex and natural fiber covers are now plentiful, affordable and can resonate with the environmentally concerned customer. Here are a few of the programs Sleep Savvy spotted at the Las Vegas Market (all price points are queen size): Mattress major Simmons actively targets the green consumer with its Natural Care foam bed line, at retails of
18 SleepSavvy • September 2011
Therapedic’s new EcoTouch (above) includes Oeko Tex-certified visco-elastic and foams with plant-based content from soy, at $1,699 to $2,999 retail. OMI’s newest 100% natural latex and innerspring mattress, Tahoe (below), is produced in the company’s GOTS-certified facility. This model retails at $1,999.
THE COVER STORY
appealing to the new ‘green’ consumer grounds that the claim was deceptive. Reportedly, the FTC now considers prosecuting misleading green marketing claims as one of the seven priority areas for its consumer protection division. “I don’t want to frighten small retailers—the chances of your being audited are slim,” Inglis says. “But if it does happen, it could be a PR nightmare for your store. It’s important to follow the Green Guides and realize you are liable for product claims.” No date for the finalization of the pending revisions to the FTC guides has been announced. ●
Where to find out more
➤ Federal Trade Commission proposed revisions to “Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims,” www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/ energy/about_guides.shtml. The current Green Guides can be found at http://bit.ly/on0pFy. Read an analysis at the National Law Review blog, www. natlawreview.com/article/ftc-updates-green-guides-to-environmentallyfriendly-marketing. ➤ GreenBiz.com, “How the FTC will tame the ‘Wild West’ of green marketing,” Perry Goldschein, www.greenbiz.com/blog/2010/09/01/how-ftc-tamewild-west-green-marketing. ➤ CertiPUR-US program information, www.certipur.us. ➤ Specialty Sleep Association’s Environmental & Safety Program, www.sleepinformation.org/environmental.html. ➤ Sustainable Furnishings Council publication, “Green My Store,” www.sustainablefurnishings.org/content/green-my-store. ➤ Sleep Savvy, “Retailers moving into culture of sustainability—being green makes sense…and dollars,” March 2010, www.sleepsavvymagazine.com/ editorial-library.html.
1,699 to $2,999. Features include CertiPUR-US certified foams, latex layers with high natural latex content and sustainably forested lumber. “We are definitely interested in finding ways to create products both good for consumers and good for the environment,” said Anne Kozel, Simmons specialty sleep brand director for ComforPedic and Natural Care, noting that the company has been active in this category since 2006. “Our research shows that the most important thing is to find components consumers can feel safe about—being eco-friendly and green is definitely about being safe and healthy.” Spring Air introduced the Sleep Sense BioMax, an all-foam collection using CertiPUR-US foams, at retails of $1,299 to $2,199. A range of environmentally friendly features qualify the beds to carry the Specialty Sleep Association’s Level II Environmental & Safety Program seal. The BioMax beds come with a special “cheat card” for RSAs, said Rick Robinson, president. This helps them explain to consumers the significance of GOTS, CertiPUR-US foams and other terms. Therapedic launched its new EcoTouch in Las Vegas, an all-foam bed with layers of Oeko Tex-certified visco-elastic and polyurethane foams that contain a percentage of plantbased content from soy. The four-bed collection retails for $1,699 to $2,999. Veteran green bed maker Natura World expanded its collection of eco-friendly latex, foam and gel beds to include a more contemporary, unquilted NaturaSleek latex mattress in four profiles, with competitive retails of $999 to $2,499. Restonic’s HealthRest Collection of latex and memory foam beds, launched earlier this year, includes an all-latex model with fabric made from bamboo rayon yarns. HealthRest beds
20 SleepSavvy • September 2011
Spring Air’s new BioMax bed uses CertiPUR-US foams and carries the SSA’s Level II seal, at $1,299 to $2,199.
retail from $899 to $2,199. Naturepedic targets concerned parents with its line of GOTS-certified organic mattresses and accessories for infants, youth—and adults, too. A 100% organic cotton mattress retails for $599 or $799 with topper (twin-size). Organic Mattresses Inc., maker of the Organicpedic line of 100% natural latex and innerspring mattresses produced in a GOTS-certified facility, also launched a competitively priced new product, the Tahoe bed, retailing for $1,999. Walt Bader, president, pointed to the growth in organic fiber sales as proof that interest in green mattresses is on the rise. “The (non-food) organic market was $30 billion last year and organic textiles are up 16%, according to the Organic Trade Association,” Bader reported. “Our company is seeing more interest from mainstream, traditional retailers, too. Retailers are starting to understand that this is not a fad, but a fact.” For more green products shown in Vegas, see page 36.
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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Jaime, left, and Trisha Hegert
Young family business competes with big hitters in Oklahoma City market By Nancy Butler Photography by Andy Hegert
he Great Recession has taken its toll on many veteran family-owned retailers, adding a tough financial situation to the often-daunting dynamics of running a business side-by-side with your relatives. But the Hegert family, proprietors of two Mattress Sleepcenter stores near Oklahoma City, is bucking the trend. Founded by Hank Hegert five years ago, this relatively young family business is not only successful and growing, it’s already been handed down to the second generation. Daughter Jaime, 22, is president;
daughter Trisha, 20, is vice president; and son Andy, 29, is general manager. Hank, who now works with Pure LatexBLISS, a company started by friend and former Simmons colleague Kurt Ling, advises on merchandising and advertising. With Simmons for 25 years in sales and account management, Hank says that the stores were destined to be passed to the children all along— he just completed the transfer sooner than expected. He still works in the stores some weekends, together with wife Barbara, who pitches in part time. SleepSavvy • September 2011
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Jaime and Trisha are hands-on in both sales and management. Jaime handles merchandising and marketing and spends most of her time selling at the store in Norman, OK. Trisha handles human resources, store appearance and accounts receivable and spends most of her time selling at the store in Edmond. Both are also working on degrees in business at the University of Oklahoma. Andy handles operations, inventory, delivery, bookkeeping (and photography for this story), floating between locations. It’s all in the family—and the Hegerts like it that way. Word-of-mouth sells best In a market with a number of powerhouse mattress and furniture retailers, the Hegert family business doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to match the huge advertising budgets of the heavy
hitters. But, as it turns out, good word-of-mouth—referrals from happy customers—is the best advertising of all. The personalized service brings customers back and referrals rolling in. And the fact that customers know they are keeping their money local scores points, too, says Hank. Mattress Sleepcenters’ “Customer Referral” program is a cornerstone of their success. A mailer goes out to the existing customer base, asking them to refer a friend or family member. New customers get a 10% discount. The referring customer gets a Visa gift card for up to $250, depending on what the new customer buys. Another way for an independent retailer to hold their own against big competition is to belong to a buying group—in this case, it’s Mega USA. “We get the same or better price than the big guys because of lower merchandising funds,” Hank says.
ne of Mattress Sleepcenters’ biggest competitors has a much-advertised 110% guarantee policy. So founder Hank Hegert decided to counter with a 111% guarantee policy, which is proudly displayed in store windows (and often gets a smile from passers-by). ✔ 111-night comfort guarantee ✔ 111% price guarantee ✔ 111% delivery guarantee Delivery used to be free, but steep gas prices have forced the company to charge $10 to $20, depending on location. Set-up and removal of old bedding are still free, along with “anything else we can do to help the customer,” says Andy Hegert, who manages the delivery process. Mattress Sleepcenters offer financing through GE, but also do some in-house financing on a case-by-case basis, especially for someone who may not qualify for GE but really needs a new mattress, says Jaime Hegert, president. And “If any customer has a problem, we take care of it directly. Anything we can think of to help out, we do.”
24 SleepSavvy • September 2011
Average tickets on the rise Despite the economy, average tickets at the Mattress Sleepcenter stores have spiked over the past year. In June 2010, the average ticket was $485. This June, the average ticket was $682. And total dollar sales have increased by 58%, Hank reports. How does the family explain this spike? Stronger sales of specialty foam beds is a significant factor. “There’s been a surge in customers wanting latex,” says Jaime. “We also find that people who come in looking for memory foam don’t always like the feel of memory foam—many end up buying latex.” The stores don’t carry Tempur-Pedic, but do carry Simmons’ ComforPedic, which nine out of 10 memory-foam shoppers will try when invited, Jaime says. The stores also carry Pure LatexBLISS, Serta, Simmons and International Bedding’s Dr. Breus and Airsprung lines. Queen price points open at $199—a promotional 6-inch foam mattress—and go up to $4,300 for the top-of-the-line latex. At the Norman store, where Jaime is in charge, OU students and parents are big customers—the university is just minutes away. Students enjoy a standing discount, as do mem-
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
bers of the military. Both of the 3,000-square-foot stores are painted in the OU colors of crimson and cream, the family proudly points out. The Norman store actually gets more male customers than female— male students and dads shopping for students—Jaime says, adding that that can present a personal challenge. “Sometimes the men don’t take me seriously as a young woman and I have to prove that I know what I’m talking about,” she says. “But once I show them, they end up feeling good. I really know my products.” At the Edmond store, Trisha’s domain, customers tend to be a bit more affluent and it’s usually the woman who does the mattress shopping. Trisha’s experience is that “a lot of female customers feel more comfortable talking with another woman.” Easy as 1-2-3 Regardless of who comes through the door, the Hegerts adhere to the family’s “five-second rule”—you’ve got five seconds to greet the customer with a friendly smile and introduce yourself. The conversation begins near the front of the store where there is a distinctive Mattress Guide display. “The customer can get a feel for their choices right away,” says Jaime. The guide (which is trademarked) outlines three steps for selecting the ideal mattress, together with a set of three characteristics to consider, accompanied by a scale of 1-7 for each of the characteristics. Every bed on the floor carries a custom-made hangtag that reflects the Mattress Guide’s three scales. 1. Comfort/Support – Beds with the higher numbers feel plusher and conform to the body more. 2. Durability – Beds with the higher numbers provide greater comfort and support for a longer period of time. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Mattress Sleepcenters’ trademarked Mattress Guide and corresponding hangtags are cornerstones of the “custom fitting” process.
3. Isolates Motion – Beds with the higher numbers do a better job of absorbing a sleeping partner’s movement. The Mattress Guide display is always the start of the process the Hegerts call “custom fitting,” which begins by identifying the comfort number the customer will most likely prefer. Among the key questions: “What position do you sleep in?” This approach can be very helpful in dealing with the perennial “I want really firm” customer. “I often find myself up against the myth that the firmest mattress is the best for their back,” says Jaime. “In many cases, I’ll just go with it and invite the customer to lie down on a really firm bed. They usually lie on their back. Then I ask, ‘Do you sleep on your back?’ If they are a side sleeper, I can show them how a really firm mattress will create pressure points and keep their muscles from relaxing.”
Then she’ll take that “really firm” customer to a bed with maybe a level-3 comfort/support. With customers who prefer extra comfort, the durability scale can help with the potential body impressions problem— the plushest pillowtops tend to have low numbers on the durability scale. Educated customers spend more The customer may or may not bring up price at the start. Jaime and Trisha use their skills at reading the individual customer to determine when (or if) they’ll bring it up. Jaime watches customers’ expressions when they look at price tags and says she can tell right away if she’s going to be dealing with sticker shock. SleepSavvy • September 2011
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Inside the Norman, OK, Mattress Sleepcenter
“Sometimes a customer will tell me what price they don’t want to go over,” Trisha says. If the limit is $500, she’ll show the nine or so models they have at that level. But if they don’t find what they like, she’ll move them up to a better quality using the Mattress Guide scale, along with the product specs that are attached to each mattress. “Customers feel better about spending more when they’re better educated about exactly what they are getting,” says Jaime. The Hegerts are sticklers about knowing the specs for everything they carry. “When a new line goes on the floor, we memorize the specs and quiz each other on why one model is more expensive than another,” says Jaime. “The specs are related to the durability scale on the Mattress Guide. Plus,
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26 SleepSavvy • September 2011
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
we don’t want to be asked about specs and not be able to answer.” None of the family members are on commission for sales. (“We might get a pat on the back,” says Trisha.) So, they are genuinely working to find each customer the best, most comfortable mattress—the one they’ll be happiest with. Top-dollar toppers popular Sleep accessories carried at the two Mattress Sleepcenters include Ergomotion adjustable bases, ProtectAll protectors, DreamFit sheets, and Pure LatexBLISS pillows and toppers. The latex toppers are proving to be especially popular and profitable. Sold with other brands, as well as Pure LatexBLISS beds, the toppers run $300 to $400 a pop. The Hegerts know that some top-
The Hegerts: Hank (top left), Andy, Jaime, Barbara and Trisha
pers they sell will wind up on a poorquality guest bed or dorm bed. But whenever someone wants to buy a topper by itself, “We always question the customer about the bed they’ll be
using it on,” says Jaime. “We tell customers that, in many cases, it won’t solve the problem. It’s not a cure for a bad mattress that’s giving you a bad back from poor support.” ●
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SleepSavvy • September 2011
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BE MY GUEST by Susie Pecuch
Among the strategies for retail success, there is only one word that really matters: Connection Take a moment and go on a trip to the beach with me to illustrate why. Imagine you are on beautiful Anna Maria Island off the Gulf Coast of Florida. You take a break from the sun and make your way up Bridge Street, the island’s retail main street. You stroll past several stores that feature the expected beach tees and souvenirs and then you come across this hand-painted sign ➤ ➤ ➤ ➤ ➤ ➤ ➤ ➤ Hard to resist? Pique your curiosity? Put a smile on your face? Perhaps you learned something about who is inside before your hand even touched the doorknob? The basics of “Retail 101” insist that we “just get ’em in the door,” and there are many methods to accomplish that goal. (Insert massive banner with a “75% off” sign here!) But one small step—and a light year—beyond “get ’em in” is what I call the “Principle of Connection.” The Principle of Connection is about much more than moving someone from point A to point B. It’s about moving them to come in, to know you, to remember you, to care about you. Ultimately, it’s about creating a connection between people. Enter the folks with the “Open just www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
for you” sign on the front door—an art co-op called the Back Alley that bills itself as “wild treasures for funky souls.” I like art. I like to think I am a funky soul. Even more, I like to think that I am special enough that someone is open “JUST for me.” And to top it off, I can’t resist a clever moment that is directed right toward me and that makes me smile. Can you? Let’s go back to the "75% off" banner. Yes, people will likely rush into that store; they may buy and they may even tell others SleepSavvy • September 2011
BE MY GUEST by Susie Pecuch
about the great bargain that they discovered. But will they feel connected to the store? The Principle of Connection means going beyond product and price. It reminds us to include all the classic “Ps” of the marketing formula—Product, Price, Place, Promotion and People. Then add one more to that: Personality. Personality—you might call it brand—is the emotional component of your business. It’s about a retail experience that creates a connection. My consulting brain tells me that a much larger percentage of people will walk in the door of the Back Alley shop because of their fun, hand-painted signs. But more importantly, the people who do walk in will feel connected to the Back Alley artists. In fact, they probably feel somewhat connected before they even see the first product. The Principle of Connection is based on long-term thinking and ultimately it moves a business from short-term wins to sustainable success. The goal is not just a sale; the real goal is that moment when your customer sells you to someone else. That’s the smart part of marketing that makes business so much easier. It’s surprising—no, I will say it’s positively shocking—how many
businesses still put most of their energy into rattling the bushes for new business while ignoring the opportunities to connect with the customer and reap the rewards. We have to ask ourselves: Why settle for just a sale when you can create an entire customer marketing team? Creating connection does require extra thought and strategic, focused effort. But most importantly, it requires three key ingredients. You must be willing to: 1. Share something about yourself. 2. Stand in the other person’s shoes to experience and understand their vantage point. 3. Be authentic. Connecting with customers requires the ability to know and be yourself, as well as being willing to get to know them. Simple, but profound. Still, connection often loses out to fancier, higher-tech solutions to sales challenges that don’t reap a longterm reward. I often wonder why so many businesses refuse to focus on building a connection. If I had a dollar for each time I have heard the idea of connection described as the “fluffy” part of business, I could buy a castle in France. In fact, I chuckle each time I hear a hard-driving business leader say that he doesn’t have time to invest in a few strategic ways to connect with his
customer. Is it too simple to be taken seriously? Perhaps it’s just too personal— since one is required to know thyself and take a moment to know and care about someone else. At the end of the day, “connection” is the word that really matters. And an authentic connection begins at your front door. So now, let’s return from the beach and consider this the perfect moment to stand in your customer’s shoes, step outside and look at your front door from her vantage point. Do you sense the beginning of a connection? If not, there’s a great opportunity waiting...just for you! ● Susie Pecuch helps businesses deliver bottom line results by designing customer experiences that bring their brand to life. She has worked with some of the top companies in the world, including Disney, Nike and Singapore Airlines. Susie can be reached by email at Susie@marketingsolutionsbysusie.com.
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30 SleepSavvy • September 2011
supporting customer dreams
We all need great support to sleep well each night
he comfort story gets high marks in the savvy mattress retailer’s selling lexicon. That makes sense, because studies continue to show that comfort is top of the mattress shopper’s mind. But it’s important to remember that what she’s really searching for is the perfect balance between comfort and support. A mattress with anything less than the best support system, especially under the body’s torso, invites poor sleeping posture and may even reinforce poor daytime habits such as slouching. Poorly supported sleep—even for as little as a single night—robs sleepers of proper spinal alignment and strains muscles. This leads to myriad potential problems, from restless sleep to morning soreness to achiness that lasts all day. And for people prone to back pain, sleeping on a mattress with poor support can quickly turn into a daytime nightmare! In recent years, with so much emphasis on enhancing surface comfort, we’ve all learned that even a low-quality mattress can feel comfortable in the store, but lacks the support that provides truly restful, rejuvenating sleep. It’s up to you to help your customers understand that a quality support system is the key to the kind of deep-down comfort that will last. Foundation plays critical role Too many people think that putting a new mattress on their old foundation is a great way to save money. Don’t let that happen! Be sure to let customers know that the mattress will not feel as good or last as long unless it’s paired with the right foundation—the one that enhances the support and performance of their new mattress. You may also want to review any warranty implications they’ll need to consider.
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SleepSavvy • September 2011
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8/25/11 11:38:11 AM
CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer
Older Americans gain power, traditional households decline
reliminary 2010 U.S. Census data confirm a rapidly graying nation, driven largely by the 78 million baby boomers, who are now between age 46 and 65. People 45 and older represent 39% of total population, up 5% from the 2000 Census, and they now represent the majority (51%) of U.S. residents over 18. People 65 and older now make up about 13% of total population—and this growing group will account for nearly 1 in 5 Americans by 2030, when the youngest boomers turn 65. Broken down by subgroups, older boomers, age 55 to 64, grew the fastest over the past decade, jumping 43% to about 35 million people.
Second-fastest in growth were seniors 85 and older, who increased 33% to more than 5.5 million. The number of people 45 to 54 also rose significantly, up 18% to 45 million, marking the movement of younger baby boomers into the 45-and-over category. Non-traditional households gain Census data also show that married couples with children dropped to an all-time low of about 1 in 5 U.S. households, surpassed by a combination of empty-nesters, childless couples, singles and unmarried partners. That was down from 23.5% of households
Women more influential than ever, global survey shows
omen’s control over spending decisions, coupled with their gains across the working world and in politics, suggest women are moving into a position to exert more influence than ever, according to Nielsen. In July, the big research company released findings from a study that identified spending and media habits of nearly 6,500 women across 21 countries. “Women across the globe are achieving higher levels of educa-
in 2000—and 43% in 1960. The decreases in traditional families were seen in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Eight states with Continued on page 34
tion, joining the workforce in greater numbers and contributing more to the household income,” said Susan Whiting, Nielsen vice chair. “Women are increasing their spending power, and with that they gain more control and influence over key household decisions. As a result, the women of today and tomorrow are powerful consumers and understanding their habits and attitudes is critically important for marketers and advertisers.” Preferred information sources In 10 of 10 emerging markets and seven of 11 developed countries— including the U.S. and Canada—TV is the number one place women Continued on page 34 SleepSavvy • September 2011
profiling your customer Older Americans from page 33 higher immigrant or Mormon populations—Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia—saw increases. Non-traditional households— single people, or opposite-sex or same-sex partners without children—jumped 13% to about 38 million. Married couples with no kids, which include younger couples and older emptynesters, rose 9% to more than 32 million. But for the first time in decades, the average household size increased slightly, to 2.63 from 2.59 in 2000. A growth in the Hispanic population, which tends to have larger families, as well as a
34 SleepSavvy •
recession-fueled trend toward adult children moving back in with parents, were cited as causes. Mexicans, Chinese show gains Between 2000 and 2010, the Mexican population in the U.S. grew by about 50%. At 32 million in strength, they now represent nearly two-thirds of total Hispanics. Within the growing Asian population in the U.S., Chinese are the most common, accounting for about 3.2 million—a 23% share of total Asians. But people from India are swiftly catching up, with a population of 2.6 million—a 20% share. Indians now hold the biggest Asian share in some 23 states. ●
Women from page 33 prefer to get information about new products. Word-of-mouth was either second or third in nine of 10 emerging markets and eight of 11 developed markets. But when it comes to information about retailers, women in developed countries prefer word-of-mouth while women in emerging countries rely on TV. Across 22 forms of advertising, “recommendations from people you know” is by far the most trustworthy source for women in both developed (73%) and emerging (82%) countries, followed by branded websites (60% in emerging countries) and consumer online opinions (49% in developed countries). “In emerging countries, the gap between TV and all other choices is
profiling your customer significant, but in developed countries other media vehicles are increasing in importance—a critical marketing consideration when balancing strategic media plans,” Whiting said. Quality drives loyalty The most important driver of brand loyalty in 20 of the 21 countries examined is quality. (Women in the United Kingdom cited trust ahead of quality.) Quality and good value are also the most important drivers to bring women into a store. “Quality, not price, drives longterm brand loyalty,” said Whiting. “Though price and value are important, particularly to attract an initial purchase, marketers need to take note that long-term positioning must emphasize quality to earn her trust.”
Networking is fundamental Women talk 28% more and text 14% more than men; they are also heavier users of social features on phones and visit more Internet community sites. And more than half of women in both developed (56%) and emerging (71%) countries say that these technologies have changed their lives for the better. Social networking is a fundamental part of a woman’s day-to-day digital life, particularly in developed countries. In the U.S., 73% of women who are online visit the leading social networks. “To connect with women, strategies should be social and relevant,” said Whiting. “Women typically follow brands more than men, making the social networking tool relevant for discounts, deals and coupons.”
Empowered but stressed Nearly 80% of women in developed economies—including the U.S. and Canada—believe the role of women will change and of those, 90% believe it will change for the better. All women say they feel stressed, but women in emerging countries feel the pressure even more than women in developed countries. A contributing factor, said Nielsen, is that there is little disposable income to spend on themselves or take vacations. “Women feel empowered to reach their goals and get what they want, but at the same time, this level of empowerment results in added stress,” said Whiting. “Companies marketing to women should consider highlighting ways their products can ease stress and provide convenience.” ●
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SleepSavvy • September 2011
MARKET SCENE Las Vegas highlights
Hot showstoppers: Cool gels, POP that wowed, topper mania
t was the best-attended summer market since the recession began, according to officials at the World Market Center in Las Vegas. And mattress vendors were ready with a bevy of hot products and programs. Various formulations of gel—from poured gel to gelinfused foams—made headlines at this show. It’s a cool, pressure-relieving component, mattress makers proclaimed, especially when combined with visco-elastic or latex comfort layers.
Ready to spice up bland store space and engage techsavvy consumers? Illuminated digital point-of-sale signage and gadgets were everywhere, as was vivid lifestyle imagery on posters, headboards and giant wall decals. Accessories were hot, too, as manufacturers sought to assist retailers in improving average tickets. There were tons of toppers with an assortment of high-end foam and fiber fills, plenty of new pillow SKUs, as well as complete accessories collections and displays.
Comfortaire showed off its coolest—and warmest—new airbed, the iC900+. Retailing for about $4,000, the bed features dual temperature-regulating technology from Chili Technology in the top upholstery layers. Sleep partners can warm or cool their side of the bed from 46 F to 118 F.
Simmons introduced the AirCool Sleep System, part of “Project New,” a package of enhancements to its specialty sleep collections. The system provides better foam bed ventilation via specially engineered foams and spacer-fabric borders. Simmons also launched eye-catching digital POS tools, MicroGel gel-infused memory foam, the sleek NuFlex adjustable base (retailing for $1,599 in twin XL, $1,699 in queen) and contoured memory foam, which is part of its Independent Response Technology.
All retail prices are for queen size, unless otherwise noted.
36 SleepSavvy • September 2011
Pure LatexBLISS added two new reversible toppers featuring granulated Talalay latex, or latex “down,” at retails of $400 and $500. The company also launched an innerspring mattress in two profiles featuring wrapped coils topped with Talalay latex, retailing for $1,400 and $1,600.
Tempur-Pedic put a big spotlight on pillows this market, adding three traditional shapes to its pillow lineup and bringing total choices to about a dozen SKUs. The selection includes knit and woven covers in white or cream, with prices ranging from $99 to $399. All are dressed in new packaging—clear plastic totes with handles and zippered access. The company plans to launch a pillow-only national ad campaign soon, said Mike Mason, director of brand development.
Gold Bond showcased a new ventilated, pressure-relieving EcoSense bed. The allfoam, smooth-top mattress has Cool Response gel-infused memory foam in its top comfort layer and is covered in a supple stretch knit. The three models retail from $1,099 to $1,499. The company also added several models to its SacroSupport Encased Coil line and unveiled a redesigned Premier Series two-sided collection.
Kingsdown made waves on the show floor with its striking POP materials and color-blocked borders. Blu-Tek’s Cool Support Technology includes a number of horizontal and vertical ventilating features: channel cuts, pinhole designs in support layers and edge support, and a 3-D fabric on panels. The five-bed collection combines polyurethane, visco-elastic and latex foams, as well as poured gel in the top models, retailing for $1,499 to $2,999.
5 6 www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
SleepSavvy • September 2011
Las Vegas highlights
E.S. Kluft & Co. debuted the A3 Series, inspired by European divan beds with toppers. Each three-piece set includes a ComfortTop topper, a mattress available in three firmness levels and a base. Components include high-end latex and gel-infused foams, wool, organic cotton and wrapped coils. Retails start at under $3,000. Toppers were found throughout the showroom, including reversible, button-on toppers on some new Monogram Series beds. ComfortTops soon will become a standard feature in every line, said CEO Earl Kluft.
Serta accented accessories with a new Sleep To Go program for retailers that includes a large two-sided display case designed to hold an array of pillows, sheets, blankets and protectors. Retailers can customize the exact accessories mix. The company also added a fifth model to its popular iComfort line. It features a layer of gel-infused latex and retails for $2,999.
Englander rolled out its new Egel, a three-bed specialty sleep collection with contemporary styling and POP materials to match. The beds retail for
38 SleepSavvy • September 2011
$1,499 to $2,100 and have zones of injected blue gel in the visco-elastic comfort layer. “The POP and the look and feel of these new beds really appeal to that all-important younger demographic,” said President Kevin Toman.
Boyd Specialty Sleep displayed a new platform Bonus Base with handsome arched legs and a brushed-nickel finish, retailing for $199. Boyd also added latex toppers, as well as two new beds to its Natural-Flex latex mattress collection. The mattresses, at 12 inches and 13 inches, retail for $799 and $999. An attractive new Natural-Flex POP display is also available.
International Bedding redesigned its Europa collection with fashion-forward fabrics in sage and chocolate colorways, premium foam comfort layers and foam-encased wrapped coils. The five new models retail for $799 to $1,599. Also new were nine “great value” beds with retails from $399 to $899 in the American-Pedic, Classic and other collections. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Las Vegas highlights
Comfort Solutions used playful puppy imagery to help communicate the new tag line for the eXtended Life mattress: “Saggy puppy good. (Saggy mattress bad.)” The company also rolled out a limited edition Laura Ashley bed aggressively priced, starting at $599, to help retailers capitalize on late summer promotions. The Laura Ashley beds are dressed in rose or silver colorways and feature foam-encased innersprings and zoned foams in super-soft or firm feels.
Sealy’s luxury Next Generation Stearns & Foster line stood out on the showroom floor with fresh styling—upholstery borders, a vertically stitched foundation, top-panel jumbo medallion on the top bed—upgraded components (including a 100% latex core in one model) and a new marketing campaign designed to connect with consumers on an emotional level. The brand has been regrouped into Core, Estate and, now, Lux Estate collections, said Brent Pfister, director of marketing for the brand. It retails for $1,300 to $2,699.
Restonic showcased the top-of-the-line ComfortCare Select, dressed in silver and white and draped with a shimmery foot streamer and pillows. The bed features 800 wrapped coils, Marvelous Middle technology, high-end foams and zoned support. The top model, Doria, retails for $1,499.
Carolina Mattress Guild made its first Las Vegas appearance, showcasing its Natural Living Collection. The specialty and innerspring beds tell an eco-friendly story with natural latex, polyurethane foams with a percentage of bio-based content, and knit fabrics containing bamboo rayon, silk and wool yarns. The collection retails for $699 to $2,499.
Anatomic Global entered the adjustable category with two styles of bases, retailing at $750 in queen. They feature color-matched upholstery, wireless remotes, massage function and lumbar support options, as well as a unique method for anchoring the mattress to the base. The company also unveiled Shoreline, a five-bed line of aggressively priced visco-elastic mattresses at $499 to $1,499 retail.
SleepSavvy • September 2011
Las Vegas highlights
Vi-Spring—a luxury British brand—launched an eight-bed North American collection in the new Ergo Bedroom showroom. The “allnatural” beds contain calico-cotton wrapped coils, horsehair, cotton and authentic Shetland wool fiber. The two-sided mattresses retail for $3,000 to $25,000.
Paramount Sleep debuted the Boutique Hotel Collection for its first Las Vegas showing. The inspiration is the “romantic weekend getaway,” with elegant tailoring, wrapped coils, open-cell memory foam, latex and natural fibers. The seven-bed collection retails for $799 to $1,499 and is being marketed to both retailers and hotels.
Leggett & Platt Fashion Bed showcased a new collection of U.S.-made upholstered headboards from the Consumer Products Group. Available in five traditional to contemporary looks, the headboards are height adjustable and retail for $299 to $699. The Martinique headboard, shown here, retails for $349.
Vivon Vice President Colin Lawrie showed off the new Vivon Smart Base, a steel platform foundation that folds flat for easy shipping. The hinged, bi-fold unit retails for $149. For more Vegas highlights, read the story about ‘green’ beds shown in Las Vegas on page 18. And be sure to visit www.sleepsavvymagazine.com to view our 7-minute market video.
Next Las Vegas Market Jan. 30-Feb. 3, 2012
40 SleepSavvy • September 2011
World Market Center Phone 888-416-8600 firstname.lastname@example.org www.lasvegasmarket.com 20 www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris
The key is understanding the consumer’s mindset (part 2)
e should never underestimate the influence RSAs can have on where mattress shoppers choose to buy, which models they choose to buy and how satisfied they will be with their purchase. So, for RSAs, understanding consumer attitudes, accepting them and learning how to overcome them are a vital part of successful selling. In my July/August column, I addressed six common consumer attitudes, each followed by suggestions on how to turn wary shoppers into satisfied customers. Here are five more attitudes shared by most mattress shoppers:
from another because they want to make sure they get the best value for their dollars.
Connect with each shopper.
RSAs tend to think the same. Since most consumers buy mattresses so rarely, they tend not to connect with RSAs’ thinking (and probably won’t ever deal with them again). Paradoxically, establishing a relationship with a customer and being of service, rather than “making a sale” will increase the chances of making a sale.
1. Have no real loyalty to a brand. This may come as a surprise because shoppers often seek out particular brands as they start their shopping mission. But research shows that most people will switch to another brand—even a brand they’ve not heard of—if they trust the RSA and the store. Focus on customer needs. Unless the customer requests a specific brand, it’s best not to ask them what brand they are looking for or what brand they currently sleep on. Instead, begin qualifying by addressing size, style, comfort levels and other specific needs. Objectively and confidently present the brands your store offers without demeaning any other brands.
3. Are motivated by curiosity. Curiosity is one of the most powerful motivators of all. Shoppers who would normally be reluctant to lie down on a mattress while someone is watching will dive onto a “novelty” type mattress to see what all the buzz is about. Create interest. Many top RSAs entice shoppers to give their store’s top mattresses a try as a starting point simply by creating curiosity. Try this: “While you’re here, you have to try these models—many of our customers say they are the most comfortable they’ve ever slept on. Then we can find the model that you like best.” As you move down from there, every model lessens resistance. The real benefit is that this gives shoppers the opportunity to experience top quality and comfort.
2. Don’t really care where they buy. Consumers tend to shop for mattresses as they would for tires. Amazingly, studies show that even people buying bedroom furniture from one store often buy a mattress
4. Are confused about warranties. Most people have the false expectation that they should be able to sleep on their mattress for the length of the warranty. Few understand that warranties only
cover manufacturing defects; they don’t guarantee that the comfort and support will stay the same as when a mattress was new. Problems occur when reality does not meet expectations.
Don’t use warranties to close sales. Make sure customers under-
stand what is and is not covered early in the selling process. Explain that mattresses should be replaced every 5 to 7 years for the best comfort and support. 5. Don’t like too many choices. Large selections may bring in traffic, but studies show that as the number of choices goes up, sales go down. Many people feel overwhelmed, so they end up “just looking.” Of those that do buy, some will have buyer’s remorse because there were so many models they never even tested. Limit the choices. RSAs that have an abundance of models should carefully qualify their shoppers and limit the models they show to prevent confusion. ● Gerry Morris is an author, consultant, training coach and 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. To find out what Gerry can do for your company, call him at 903-456-2015, email email@example.com or visit www.innerspring.net. SleepSavvy • September 2011
The magazine for sleep products professionals