15959 Fri, 01/16/2009 - 5:28pm
By David Gill
Electric blankets, mattress pads and throws; down and down-alternative comforters; flannel sheets—all of these categories and more are getting strong exposure on the Web sites of the nation’s top retailers as the cold weather settles in.
A review of the Web sites of Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale’s, J.C. Penney, Kmart, Macy’s Sears, Target and Walmart before the holidays found a variety of promotions for top-of-the-bed products that provide extra warmth in winter. Whether the product is plugged into the wall or simply has more fill, retailers made their case for drawing consumers into their stores to help relieve their nighttime chills.
J.C. Penney offered what it called an “energy-saving” deal of 30 percent to 60 percent off electric blankets and mattress pads on flannel sheets. This promotion hinted at a concept suggested in the fall by vendors of top-of-the-bed products: offering these products as ways to save on home heating costs.
As HFN noted in an article in its Oct. 6 issue, vendors of blankets, comforters and throws presented various concepts highlighting these products’ role in saving consumers money on heating their homes during the winter months. They also urged their retail customers to follow through on this idea beginning in the holiday shopping season, when many consumers consider top-of-the-bed products as possible gifts.
Aside from this promotion, featured on the first page of its home-products section, J.C. Penney’s site didn’t make distinctions between “warm” products and others in the product category. Down and down-alternative comforters, flannel sheets, mattress pads, blankets and throws all had their separate pages—and electric products weren’t separated from the non-electric merchandise in these categories.
The Web sites of other retailers made no mention of energy savings. The Bed Bath & Beyond site highlighted electric products such as blankets and mattress pads, from Sunbeam and Therapedic, along with the Extra Warm white goose down comforter from United Feather & Down, but offered no promotional pricing on top-of-the-bed products.
Bloomingdale’s also stayed away from major promotional statements in these categories. Its bedding product pages provide straightforward listings of the retailer’s down comforters and blankets, with no mention of the weather.
Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s sister operation, did some temperature-oriented merchandising on its top-of-the-bed pages. The department store retailer presented warm, warmer, warmest stories on its down-comforter pages. However, the distinction between these warmth levels was unclear. For example, one “warm” comforter—the Hotel Collection lightweight down comforter—has a fill power of 700 and a fill weight of 30. Pacific Coast Feather’s Six Star Oversized Luxury comforter, presented as “warmer,” has a fill power of 650 and a fill weight of 37. One of the “warmest” comforters, the Lauren Ralph Lauren Regent Silk down comforter, has a fill power ranging from 675 to 725 and a fill weight of 44.
Walmart’s winter textiles were featured on its “bedding basics” pages. The section doesn’t separate the mass merchant’s offerings in comforters or blankets according to winter-oriented products. The key distinction in Walmart’s offerings was a grouping of “warming” blankets (actually, electric blankets) from Sunbeam.
The Martha Stewart Everyday home program has been a long-standing performer at Kmart, so it’s no surprise that this program took the lead on the mass merchant’s bedding section online. On the “warmth” products pages, Martha Stewart Everyday flannel sheet sets were featured, with a section of electric blankets from Biddeford playing a supporting role.
Electric, flannel and down-filled products held center stage on Target’s bedding pages. Both electric and non-electric mattress pads were featured on one page, while flannel sheet sets occupied one whole page. Electric blankets and electric throws (called “warming throws”) each had their own pages.
The emphasis on the Sears Web site for its “warmth” top-of-the-bed products was on the gift element. Sears offered savings on its electric merchandise—blankets, mattress pads and throws—as last-minute gift items, rather than as providers of extra warmth in the winter cold.