mattress disruption

Entrepreneurs have taken over the mattress industry.  Prior to about two years ago, there were really just two major companies who owned pretty much the entire industry.  This duopoly dominated because no one had really brought the disruption to the industry by going online in any meaningful way. That has all changed now.  Casper, Saatva, Leesa, Yogabed, and many more have taken the industry by storm, and I see more and more companies entering the space in the next couple of years.  As an entrepreneurial writer, I get really excited when I see an industry get disrupted.  I’ve been following the Uber NYC mayor debate pretty fiercely.  It’s just another example of a set of entrepreneurs really just taking on an industry that has been stuck in its ways for a long time. Why did these mattress companies take over the industry with seemingly such little effort (and why aren’t the established companies scared?)?  Well, the number one reason is that there were just absolutely huge markups.  A mattress that might cost $200-300 would eventually be sold at a retail store for $2,000.  How is that the case?  Well, the manufacturer needs to make a profit (see more info from Consumer Reports).  There are delivery charges to get the mattress to the store.  The store has to pay for all the expenses that a normal retail store has to pay for.  The retailer also has to make its profit.  The mattress salesperson also gets a commission too.  When you add up all that money, it makes sense that the mattress would end up costing a lot of money for the consumer. But what if there was a company that could cut out all those expenses?  That’s exactly what these innovators have done.  They cut out the middle man and went direct online.  They cut out all those unnecessary expenses and pass the savings off to the middleman (see reviews of different online mattress retailers).  It makes a whole lot of sense. So, the initial disruption has happened, and the companies that are doing it are very successful at what they do.  What’s going to happen going forward though?  Here’s what one entrepreneurial writer thinks. I think it’s going to become increasingly difficult to differentiate between companies.  The existing online players will come out with even more products.  The old manufacturers will try to enter the online-only world as well.  Margins will get squeezed as the advertising costs will only go up.  It will be hard for consumers to decide between the many different options available to them.  For that reason, there will be more mattress review sites out there too. The blue ocean and free reign of profit will probably go away, as there will be too many competitors in the space.  Some of the companies will have to go away, and others will probably merge with each other.  I think the percentage of people who buy online will only go up, but at the same time consumers will literally […]

Sealy might be under Tempur-Pedic’s great big sky, but I think I like their site the most. Sealy is mostly upfront and not overwhelming, they have a section that assures you that choosing doesn’t have to be confusing. Instead of then sending you to a page with a bunch of questions about what you want or ‘only’ 16 choices of the best mattresses on the market, they lay things out between Inner Springs, Hybrid, Latex or Memory Foam, and they give you the starting prices. Granted when you click for more information, pricing becomes harder to find after that. Trying to determine the state of businesses today is hard without inside information. No mattress site is going to tell you that they’re selling something that’s going to hurt your back, so I’m getting a little tuckered out from hearing the word ‘support.’ Sealy does seem to have a few different options like the hybrid which is the inner spring and foam together for both comfort and support. If other companies offer this, it was easiest to find on Sealy. When you think of staying ahead of the curve, you have to think about who is buying the product. There are people out there who will dig and dig until they have cross comparison charts with all of the main mattresses and features. These people don’t need a blog like this, or any kind of quick summary. They will go over everything until they come up with an aggregate that helps them make their decision. However, Sealy seems to boil things down a little bit more for the average consumer who doesn’t need to be confronted with so many options which ultimately start to look the same after a while.

sleep tracker

Sleep is a pretty natural occurrence, and computers don’t seem to have a place when you’re resting. Machines take over a lot of our lives, so it may seem like a hard sell to let them interfere with our sleep as well. Sleep Trackers may not be the most well-known thing on the market even with the explosion in popularity for fitness trackers which keep have your movements down to a science. For people like me who can’t get enough walking, I felt little need for a device like this, but I was more or less the only one. In California, I ran into very few people without a FitBit of some kind, though I did find that the movements weren’t always recorded correctly. Arms that moved quickly without the leg motion would still be recorded as steps. Now take that technology and try to apply it to sleep. The sleep tracker records your movements and your heartbeat to determine when you are at rest, and uses that information to determine how well you are sleeping. If you fall asleep on your side and wake up on your back, then you’re obviously moving when you are asleep. It’s not necessarily bad as it keeps your circulation going, but it does interrupt your motions during the night, and indicates that you’re not having the best of REM states. Some trackers are fancier than others and go under your mattress while playing soothing sounds to lull you to sleep, while others you just wear around your wrist. People have a hard time determining exactly what they’re doing at night. They wake up and forget, or they’re up for an hour and think it was three. Once you’re in a haze, you’re not a reliable person to account what really happened. Short of going to a sleep lab, you can get a better handle on your habits if you use one of these devices.

Lucid Dreaming

Sleep can be scary. For anyone who has had a bad dream or had a child plagued with bad dreams, there’s every reason to see how there’s a market to help end fears and promote calm. Learning more about the science of sleep can possibly help you explore more options on how to get your body and mind to be in harmony. Lucid dreaming is typically defined as any dream where you realize you’re dreaming while still asleep. Some argue that you can’t really do this while truly being asleep but regardless there are ways to ty to gain more control over thoughts which sometimes seem too wild to tame. There are books and music written specifically to help promote lucid dreaming. Journals are often encouraged to record experiences for later study later, as well as sleep masks designed to mimic light patterns to encourage lucid dreaming as well. The ones I’ve seen are about $100, and they don’t seem like the greatest of investments given the information they post on their sites. People need to push aside horrific dreams otherwise nothing would ever get done, but they do affect us. They can interfere with our day, and they can make it more difficult to fall asleep the next night. Lucid dreaming allows people to take the reins on crazy scenarios and start to change how the events go in their mind. Children can start to learn how to overcome their stress and constant need to reach out to adults to protect them during the night. There are a lot of people who are tormented at night by the many fears, both known and unknown. They can benefit from learning more about the best way to induce an experience where they can use their willpower to turn their inner demons into positive experiences. Beyond better mental and physical health which comes from relaxed sleep, it can also be fun. The idea is that you can feel the good sensations out there by being able to decide what comes next in your dream. As much as a nightmare can bring down your state of mind, a beautiful dream can help you escape into worlds of color, excitement or peace, and leave you waking up happy. Lucid dreaming is niche, and I think most people would have a hard time mastering the technique, if the technique is real at all. There is hope in it though, which can be extremely powerful to those who suffer from sleep terrors or anxiety surrounding sleep. Getting people to understand the process and not be afraid of the analysis of their dreams could be a good start. It promotes mindfulness which is huge today in wellness clinics, psychologist’s offices and yoga studios. Mindfulness asleep means more control over your thoughts which means more control over your impulses. There is a market out there for this, and yet a large portion of people haven’t even heard of it. It would be hard for me to try to […]

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I feel at least a little vindicated after I spent so much time talking about the many factors of mattress buying when I came across a ‘study’ from Consumer Reports. It states that 40% of mattress purchasers experience some form of buyer’s remorse. Like every other survey of all time you have to consider the data size, the motivations of the people answering, who’s asking the question and how it’s phrased, and the fact that most people tend to have some sort of regret after any large purchase. Something about seeing the new state-of-the art mixer that they could have afforded if they’d just slept on their old mattress for an extra few years. That 35-year-old mattress grandma died in wasn’t really that bad, was it? When you take all of those things into account, maybe I’m not so vindicated. But I do think that it is a situation where people become too overwhelmed. My body is different from the salesperson’s body, and it’s different from the bodies of everyone who made the mattress and it’s different for everyone who wrote the website or informational material on that product. Theoretically, we all have different mattress needs. Some people know what they want, and over time they manage to still be just as happy with their decision. Or at least, they say they are. But most of the time, people just make choices based on convenience. They’re too taxed during the day to devote the brain power to 100 different varieties of mattress, support, comfort, etc. And for all the warranties and guarantees that are out there, you have almost half of people reporting they made the wrong decision even with all of the ways manufacturers sand sales people try to give them an out. And, of course, it’s possible to over-think the decision too. There are a group of people who will take an extreme amount of time to go over all the brands before they finally come to a decision, but at that point you’ve talked yourself in and out several different kinds of mattresses or more. You could easily start wondering if sleeping on a park bench would be easier than deciding between the $3000 Sealy over the $2500 Ikea brand. So what to do once you’ve decided that your mattress isn’t for you? Certainly one way for people to go is to just accept what is in front of them and what will be, or you could try to break into the mattress toppers market. Mattress toppers sound like the poor man’s solution to the expensive decision of buying a mattress. You can get a topper to soften up a firm mattress or to attempt to fill in the gaps of a sagging one. They feature memory foam (which is apparently everywhere nowadays), latex or gel foam which all help with pressure on the joints, pain and muscle support. So obviously it goes both ways. It’s the seller striving to fit the needs a little bit better, […]

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Pillows are an interesting concept. I slept without one for quite some time, and then years later I can’t tell you how I did that. My neck must have just disappeared? I honestly have no idea. You can go to Target and find cheap pillows and then go to Bed Bath and Beyond and see something that has gel in it which costs four times as much. Pillows should be replaced about every six months or so, which I’m guessing very few people do no matter what they tell you. Of course, that may just be the recommendation of the National Assn to Sell More Pillows, I have no idea, I didn’t do the research. Just like any consumer purchase, it can be hard to determine what someone may need. Down, foam, synthetic, cotton: most people face way too many choices a day to begin to sort out what is best for their head and neck. They could ball up a sweatshirt and use that just as easily and save themselves from the internal torment of trying to decide between the $20 and the $30 pillow. Making it easy for people to decide on something would be ideal. Especially figuring out how to encourage them to change their pillow out more often. Showing them how they become infested with dust and how they lose their form quickly could be a good way to go. Eddie Bauer, Garnet Hill, and Sleep Number typically show up for the best pillows for your neck and shoulders, but at prices showing up routinely at around $100, it’s just unreasonable to expect the average person to spend that much every six months for every pillow they own in their home. Our featured mattress brands tend to have some high-ratings themselves too. You can see why this would be a profitable market for the right person.

International Sleep Market

With millions of people in the US and billions of people in the world, it’s insane to think of that much time on a bed and that much time asleep. And really, there are so many unexplored avenues for this industry in my opinion! China’s mattresses are typically known for being rock hard, and it’s not easy to find reliable products to soften these beds up. A typical Chinese person might not care, and probably wouldn’t want a softer bed anyway. If they get back or shoulder pain in 50 years, they won’t necessarily spend time lamenting that would have been happier had they used a better mattress. In large cities like Shanghai, renters in typical apartments are more likely to just leave the bed like any major appliance. They’re obviously not easy to move, and apparently it’s a little bit more like college dorm life in that respect. So now one has a mystery mattress and a whole slew of inferior products out there to help you dress it up a little. Ex-pats in particular have a bit of a difficult time adjusting. Production is obviously moving to China in a big way, so why would entrepreneurs here would want to get involved? Not to mention the fact that there are already companies around that do this, and the fact that the hurdles you would have to jump would be pretty large (if not impossible). However, I think that this could be a better market. If you hire the right people and create the right marketing campaign to show people what they’re missing out on, then this could be a huge market. But, like any marketing campaign, you’d have to figure out what was important to them. Dust mites freak a lot of people in the US out. Teeny, tiny little bugs having their own little party in your bed sheets. That’s not really cool, man. But really, who do they hurt? Maybe they’re not great for people with asthma but that’s not the same thing as spreading infectious diseases. If those in China are fine with mites, then you obviously can’t go that route. Pain is universal though, and so is saving money. Showing people what it means to save yourself in medical bills or lost work down the line because you can’t move would be a great way to open up this market. There are obviously a large supply of countries out there to try to open up more options for the average consumer in many areas. Doing business in other countries or even in your own country depending on regulations can be hard. But it’s not impossible. People look at the roadblocks sometimes, and that’s all they can see. They think that if someone else could have done it, they it would have already been done. That is not the case. People who can take that leap create more jobs and more hope for people everywhere in their respective economies.

I don’t want get too personal, but I’m not a huge fan of shopping. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to over-share. You shouldn’t care that I don’t like to shop, but you should care how your customers feel if you’re selling mattresses to make your living. Normal salespeople have a reputation for being pushy and overbearing. I have bought things from these people before, I have bought big-ticket items from these people before. But I figured out how to never to go back to these kinds of people or the places that employ them because it made my life a lot better to situations like this completely. It made me extremely distrustful of those in sales (surprise, surprise).  Again, I’m not necessarily the average consumer, but I think most people would be happier with a person who knows their stuff inside and out, and just wants to present it so people don’t have to do all the research on their own. I would also love to meet someone who honestly tries to get to know what I want based on my budget and needs. It’s easy to miss what people say, and it’s even easier to miss what they don’t say. I’ve worked with people a great deal, and it’s rare for me to come across someone who truly recognizes what the other person is asking for or saying. To keep pace and compete with online sales, it’s important to have a great technique with customers. Sounds great in theory, but if you’re working on commission or you know your shop has a quota to hit, then it’s not going to happen. It’s not how humans work. It’s not fair, and it’s a situation to be avoided at all costs, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. The commission-based structure might work for a time and motivate your employees, but your employees are likely motivated by fear of not making enough to pay rent. You don’t want a staff running on that kind of energy. If you approach the product and the customer with relaxation in mind, you might be able to get the buyer into the state of mind of what it’s like to need the very product they’re testing out. It’s hard to get comfortable on any bed when you’re not tired and you know a salesperson is looking right at you. It’s kind of weird. But if you give them the relevant information of how the mattress will help them feel during the night, and then back off a little you could see some grateful people which might lead to better results. Salespeople work for years on techniques, but a lot of it can’t be taught. Like most people, I’m a sucker for someone being nice to me, complimenting me, flirting with me. I don’t particularly care what their motivations are, I’m having a good time in the moment. Although, I’m not even sure if I do like those things anymore because I’ve made enough bad […]