By David Gill
Like the mattress industry, manufacturers of bed pillows and mattress pads have found traction with consumers who want to sleep better.
Quality of sleep has persisted as a major issue with consumers for some time. A recent poll conducted on behalf of mattress manufacturer Tempur-Pedic found that nearly half of all Americans are dissatisfied with the quality of their sleep, and also discovered a widespread awareness of how lack of sleep threatens one’s health and ability to function.
Tempur-Pedic is among several mattress producers that have marketed their products around their ability to improve one’s sleep. Now the basic-bedding industry has joined in. For some time, Carpenter has shown a “year-in, year-out commitment to consumer education” on better sleep, according to Dan Schecter, vice president of sales and marketing for the company’s consumer products division.
Carpenter has conducted a number of campaigns, including its sleepbetter.org Web site—featuring Dr. Michael Breus, an authority on sleep, with advice on how to sleep better—and several media-outreach efforts. It has just unveiled the most recent of these campaigns, titled “Sleep Better. Dream Bigger,” which will run through the summer into September’s New York Home Fashions Market. This includes the highlighting of the company’s trademarked Sleep Better line of pillows and mattress pads, an expansion of the sleepbetter.org Web site and increased media outreach to keep the issue of sleep top of mind with the public.
Schecter said Carpenter is focusing this effort on the effect of the recession on people’s sleep. “We feel invested in that issue because we are all about ‘helping people get closer to their dreams,’” he said.
Beth Mack, chief merchandising officer with Hollander Home Fashions, said the company has pursued the quality-of-sleep story in a more global way. “It’s not about ‘buy a Hollander pillow to get a better night’s sleep.’ It’s about how often do you change your bed pillow or how often you wash your mattress pad,” Mack said. “If we’re going to get the message across, it has to be more of a public-service effort, not Hollander-driven.”
United Feather & Down, like Carpenter, has engaged a sleep expert, Dr. James Maas of Cornell University, who has appeared on television and in catalogs with United Feather products. “Our story revolves around being more comfortable in bed,” said Bob Hickman, senior vice president of sales and marketing for United Feather. “We have pushed our Personal Comfort collection of customized pillows, and one of the most significant stories is our Silver bedding line, with silver threads in the fabric. It improves the heat conductivity so that the pillow sleeps cooler.”
Louisville Bedding’s approach to this issue is more product-specific. The company has spotlighted its Tri-Zone mattress pad, which is designed to reduce pressure-point sensitivity in the shoulder and leg areas and thus eliminate tossing and turning.
Education is another component of Louisville Bedding’s approach. “We’ve found that more times than not, people are sleeping on a pillow that wasn’t designed for their sleep position,” said Mandy Talbert, product development manager. “We continue to work hard to let consumers know that there are basic questions they should be asking themselves when selecting their bed pillow: Am I a back sleeper, stomach or side sleeper? Do I prefer a natural pillow (feather or down) over a synthetic fill?”
Quality of sleep has also become a talking point with manufacturers of mattress and pillow protectors such as Protect-A-Bed. “We’ve been advertising this point in trade publications and consumer health-oriented magazines,” said Alan Eisenberg, vice president of national accounts. “Our Web site has a ton of information on our products and on issues revolving around bed bugs and dust mites, and we’ve gotten this information on some of the big social-networking sites, too.”
Critical to the whole quality-of-sleep marketing effort is highlighting the issue at the point of sale. “We put information on our packaging and we’ve put together in-store communications,” said Fritz Kruger, vice president of marketing at Pacific Coast Feather. “This can be tricky because you have to look at the specific point of sale and the retailer, and see what has a chance to get put into the department. Also, it has to be a credible message for the consumer that this product will improve his sleep.”
Hickman said the basic-bedding industry’s current POS effort falls somewhat short. “Most of the manufacturers are dependent on packaging callouts,” he said. “I think we’re stumbling along on this. As an industry, we have yet to rally and drive home to make the customer aware of these components.”
From the manufacturers’ comments, the industry needs to continue these efforts. “The consumers are driving this,” Mack said. “People are more educated about quality of sleep. They don’t have a lot of time when they make the purchase, but they are dictating that more information is needed—information that is pertinent to them.”