Do Consumers Really Save Money Buying Bed In A Box?

A lot has been said about the bed in a box business and there is a significant amount of excitement around the category and for good reason; the consumer is looking for a different experience. Here are a few thoughts on why the business has grown so much in the last 12 months:

  1. Consumers don’t really like shopping for a bed.
  2. Large move by consumers to e-commerce in general.
  3. Cool factor and brilliant marketing.
  4. Consumer reviews are driving interest.
  5. Better perceived value on product because of the cost model and high margin at brick and mortar.

 Do Consumers Really Save Money Buying  Bed In A Box?

It’s that last one that I want to address here. Has anyone actually purchased one of these beds? I am going to generalize here and bucket them all together so forgive me in advance, but for the most part I have not been all that impressed with product. Do they make a decent mattress? Yes. Is it anything that hasn’t been done before in our industry? No. Are these beds saving the consumer a bunch of money by going direct to the retailer on line? NO!!!!!! At least not from what I see. The big story here is disruption, or at least that is why they were getting so much press. The problem there is that some of those articles were written after doing very little research. The hard truth of the matter is that you can run into a Sam’s Club or a Costco and pick up a bed in the box for less money than what the current e-commerce guys are charging at the same or better quality. My buddy Michael Fux, now the owner of Comfort Revolution, essentially invented this category well over a decade ago and was incredibly brilliant when he designed the wheeled box to get it to your car. Now this concept has been picked up and taken on line which is smart, but I don’t like it when companies BS the consumer.

The e-commerce company goes from the factory, (which they don’t own and have to pay a price loaded with some margin), straight through themselves to the consumer which is a three tier supply chain. If they own their factory then they can claim more of a factory direct but most of them don’t. If it is a brick and mortar retailer they are also buying from a manufacturer, through themselves, to the consumer. That is also a three tier supply chain. I guess you could make the argument that the e-commerce guys don’t have the brick and mortar cost of doing business so they can point to that for savings, but have you priced key words around the mattress category lately? It’s not cheap! You have to build a website that is able to run a robust e-commerce business platform, staff it with programmers, content creators and designers, spend a bunch of money to promote and get your name out there, build in extra dollars to handle returns and when it is all said and done what kind of money are you really saving the consumer?

Many of these guys have really moved away from saying their beds save consumers money because they know that they really don’t for the most part. You can go into any Mattress Firm or Sit’N Sleep out there and find a bed every bit as good as what you will find on line for the same money!

I give Casper and Tuft and Needle credit for making this category cool and for focusing on what matters most when it comes to buying a mattress. The huge benefit of great sleep. I have met both Daehee Park and JT Marino from Tuft and Needle and they are the real deal. Great guys with a very strong business strategy where they put the consumer right in the middle of everything that they do. I am a big fan and hope that they continue to have great success but I don’t agree with the claim of the better deal.

I speak to industry analyst on a frequent basis about this subject so I will tell you what I tell them keeping in mind that it is just one guys opinion. The category is real and is here to stay. The consumer review will continue to validate the concept and I am guessing that guys like Daehee and JT will continue to bring innovation to our business. They will not take over the industry however so we can relax a little. There is only a slice of the market that is going to be okay buying a bed on line. The question is, how big of a slice? If it ever eclipsed 20% I would be shocked but never say never. We don’t want to be the guys making film for cameras, or cd’s do we?

PS- There is no such thing as ONE BED FITS ALL!


Connecting The Dots

For years I could never understand why bedding producers and retailers didn’t focus more of their resources on telling the real story about a mattress so when it came time to build our new website, we knew we had an opportunity. When I say the “real story”,  I mean celebrate the fact that the mattress can deliver a great night of sleep which can improve your quality of life. This is emotional and compelling and should be a central part of what we are all talking about in our point of sale, advertising, and on our websites which brings me to my point.

Screen Shot 2016 03 08 at 7.32.27 AM 1024x531 Connecting The Dots

We have finally launched our new website now that we have products in the market and we are really excited about it. Our goal was to take the dotted line that exist between the mattress and good sleep and do our best to make that a solid line that trumpets the real benefits of a great mattress. Some things you will find on the new Spink and Edgar site.

  • The back story on WHY we decided to bring these products to market. If you don’t have the “WHY” figured out for any business you are really missing it. Just ask Simon Sinek or watch this video
  • Consumers love stories so we tried to make sure that the rsa’s out there have a great one to tell when it comes time to sell our mattresses. We grow beds. Pretty simple.
  • In addition to WHY we brought these products to market we wanted to answer the question of WHY luxury? We also value all of the work that went into designing these beds so you can get all of that and meet Simon Spinks, the innovator that built our story in THIS section.  While your there you can check out a quick video on why coil counts matter and how important they are to the comfort life of a bed.
  • We have always been big fans of Zappos and how they use video to teach consumers about their products. We loved it so much that we borrowed the idea and created our own videos for each of our products. Every video starts with the story about the bed and then on the back half we show the farm and where those beds came from. A product photo just doesn’t do a Spink and Edgar justice so this seemed to be a better solution. A picture might paint a thousand words, but a video brings it to life.
  • You have heard me talk about serving the consumer a lot in this blog so we are going to make sure we do that on our site. We have a section called the Scholar which is full of original content that our writers have produced. We talk about ways to improve your sleep environment, how luxury mattress brands differ, and why natural is a better choice over synthetic raw materials. Yes we even talk about why Spink and Edgar is better for intimacy, but if you have been reading this blog very long, you knew that would be included. People don’t just sleep in their beds after all so let’s be grown ups and talk about that. icon smile Connecting The Dots

I served on the Better Sleep Council for several years and really enjoyed my time with that group of people. Ryan Trainer, Mary Helen Uusimaki and Karin Mahoney are great people and were a lot of fun to work with. We talked a lot about getting the consumer to understand the emotional benefits of buying a new bed, so many of those conversations are coming to life on this site. It has been a fun project for my brother and I and we hope that you take a few minutes to check it out. (Mary Helen, a resource center where we link to the BSC is coming I promise!)

My hat is off to Studio C5, the real brains behind this effort. Carlos Arnavat is their servant leader, (his title is actually Chief Servant) and his group totally gets it. At every stage of development over the last 6 months they have been really great to work with so THANK YOU to everyone there that kicked some serious butt for us at Spink and Edgar. I also want to thank Nate and Danny at Zeus Visuals that helped us produce many of the videos you see on the site. They are equally awesome and we have had a great time working with them as well. Thank God for these partners because without them we wouldn’t have what we do today.



What Can You Learn From Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to start selling you one candidate over the other. I’m not even going to talk about policy. I am however, going to talk about this crazy election cycle and make a few observations that could help you in your business.

Let’s face it, running for President is all about marketing! Get the product (the person), figure out what is good and bad about it, target your audience, work on strategy, package it up real nice, and begin to figure out what channels to tell your story in. So how is it that Bernie and Donald are able to draw the largest crowds and get the most air time? Message and style.

trump sanders 2 What Can You Learn From Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders?

First, their message taps into the one thing that will get voters out of their recliner and into the voting booth; anger! It is my opinion that people are totally fed up with politicians. This isn’t just about not liking the other party, it has more to do with not wanting to listen to the lies, empty promises, and spin put out by most of these guys claiming to be civil servants. Emotions drive action in politics. Whenever we do consumer research we are always looking for the extreme reaction, not the guy that says “I think that is pretty good.” You want to tap into the I LOVE IT or I HATE IT sentiment because that emotion is what gets people to act. What Donald and Bernie are saying is perceived to be outside of the typical message and that is what people are reacting to. Do people absolutely LOVE what you are producing out there in terms of product and service or is it much like everything else? Can you help the consumer HATE the current solution therefore, turning to you for a better way? Emotions drive action in the purchase cycle as well as the political process.

Second reason these guys are drawing big crowds has a lot to do with style. Both guys are incredibly passionate when they deliver their message. They are good speakers that are not giving speeches per say, they are sharing their fire. A lot of times you see politicians at a podium reading from a prompter but that is not what you get from these two. In addition, they come off as more authentic than many others in the race. Like them or not, they feel a little different than what you typically get from people in Washington. Are you handing consumers a lot of marketing speak when talking about the products that you sell? Is your website conversational or are you selling AT your audience? Do your customers believe that you are trying to help them or just sell them a product? Do they see you as different? Style matters. Always.

I think we are all probably ready for the election to be over as the coverage can get old but alas, we have 9 months to go! Do you have any preference for Donald because he is after all, the only candidate that had his own mattress line. I wonder if Serta regrets their decision to dump Trump. How many beds do you think they would have sold over the last few months given his popularity these days?



Is Your Marketing Edgy Enough?

If you have read this blog for very long you know I am a big believer in a strong business strategy being the foundation for any business that wants to succeed. I also believe that if you are not stretching your creative muscle then you are missing out on a fun and effective way to reach your audience.

Today I want to shine a light on Leggett & Platt’s new campaign Edge Heads (watch more videos below). Not because I am a homer having worked there, but because they deserve some attention for what they are doing.

L&P has a new product called Quantum Edge that they want to drive into the market. They did their homework using their Sleep Geek community and talked to over 100 retail sales associates/retail managers. That group told them that over 93% of sales interactions involved some conversation about the edge of the mattress. Much of that had to do with the consumer wanting to minimize roll off, utilizing more of the sleep surface.

The benefit of their Quantum Edge product is that it delivers an edge that is 26% more durable than foam encased borders and bends 24% easier on adjustable beds. This is big news for the industry because the vast majority of beds out there have foam borders. These two benefits, plus the fact that Spink and Edgar is all natural, is the reason that we chose to use it instead of foam in our new line.

edgeheads 1024x682 Is Your Marketing Edgy Enough?

Leggett and Platt’s Edge Heads

Here are 4 reasons I like this approach so much:

  1. It’s easy to create a selling sheet, take a few pictures, and share some testing results about a new product. That is what most people would do but Mark Kinsley, Vice President of Marketing for Leggett & Platt isn’t most people. They looked for a CREATIVE way to extol the virtues of their Quantum Edge product.
  2. They used infotainment to drive their point home. Similar to how we promoted the hybrid concept back in the day with our rap video Get Hybrid, they used comedy to not only attack the competition in a fun way, but to build value in their own solution. It is hard to get away with bashing the competition, but when you use humor to get that point across, you can say just about anything.
  3. It’s fun to watch. The content is very good so people will spend some time watching the different episodes. If Leggett posted five videos of their new Quantum Edge with someone on camera talking about a mattress edge, would you waste 2-minutes of your life watching that? Probably not. With this campaign you will invest your time because you are curious and if you like the first one, you will check out the rest. It is a great way for them to earn your time and attention when we all have very little of it to give.
  4. It’s also a very simple message that makes an impact and we all know how important it is to make your message easy to digest.

I asked Mark how things were going and he told me the videos have had thousands of views already with hundreds of downloads for their product sheets. “We are hyper-focused on creating components that deliver longer comfort life, which, ultimately, is good for consumers and good for the reputation of retailers and manufacturers” said Kinsley.

This industry can be so vanilla and polluted with industry marketing speak that is not only boring, but in some cases so overstated that it does more to detract from products out there than it does to help them. Keep it simple. Keep it real. Keep it fun. People will reward you for the effort I promise. Well done Leggett & Platt team!

If you have something your company has done that is creative and effective, let me know and I will talk about your efforts as well!

BedGroup Quantum Edge Infographic 19443 CA 791x1024 Is Your Marketing Edgy Enough?



Simplify Sleep

It always blows me away to think that one of the most technologically advanced products in the market comes with little to no direction on how to use it. Remember that moment when you opened your first box from Apple? Did you look for the instructions? If you are a guy you likely did not, but if you had, you would know that there isn’t much to read. If you can make something that complex, that simple, don’t you think we should be able to make things a little easier in the mattress industry?

 Simplify Sleep

Why is it that we have 40 or sometimes 50 beds on retail floors for consumers to shop? I understand a consumer wants choice, but seriously?!? I’m not saying that we open stores with one mattress on the floor but would 10 work? How about 15? My question to you is do you think that all of those beds staring your customer in the face is a little intimidating? Of course it is. As a matter of fact they tell us that it is and we keep things the same in spite of the negative feedback.

Going back to my days at Serta when I was selling to Sam’s Club, Sam’s had just two to three sku’s to sell from and we grew that business into one of the five largest mattress retailers in the country. QVC, HSN, and Shop NBC sell one bed at a time, not to mention all of the e-commerce people out there today. Back of the napkin guess says that collectively, if you stir Costco into this group, these guys are doing $500-750 million in business. Not bad for people that don’t offer up many choices.

Your right if your thinking that these are much different channels of distribution and that in order to prevent paralysis by analysis, you have to limit the offering but there is something to learn here. The consumer likes things simple. If you can take something that is complex and make it very easy to understand/shop for, don’t you think you might gain some benefit from that? Some producers and retailers offer a comfort testing system so that you can answer some questions and the computer can narrow that massive offering down to a handful of beds to look at. Mattress Firm has their approach to simplifying things using Comfort By Color to help organize the shopping experience. Are you doing something unique to help the consumer figure it all out?

Let’s not OVER simplify the very difficult job of the retailer by hitting the “easy button” saying that less sku’s is going to deliver the same sales but is it possible when done the right way? (You can’t just offer less sku’s and leave it at that. The new approach will require a brand new business strategy from top to bottom.)

What do you think, could retailers save some money by cutting back their square footage and offering less choice supported by a selling process customized for such an experience?

Bonus #1: My man Mark Kinsley is at it again with a fun marketing campaign for Leggett and Platt’s Quantum Edge product. Quantum Edge is a terrific steel border that encases your innerspring core so that you don’t have to use foam anymore. Why get rid of foam? Because Quantum performs better says Kinsley which is good enough for me. I am a big believer in the product and actually sleep on my new Spink and Edgar mattress that features….you guessed it, Quantum Edge. No foam in our beds!!! Check out their new web series called “Edge Heads.” Great to see companies out there getting creative in their approach to market. WELL DONE! (You gotta see what happens in the Titanic scene. So sad to know that Quantum Edge could have saved that poor girl.)

Bonus #2: My buddies Tony and Terry Pearce invented a new bed they call Purple. I am sure you have seen some of their very creative marketing with this new e-commerce product. I know these guys well enough to know that getting this creative with their marketing was not easy to agree to so my hat is off to them for busting through the comfort zone bubble. Anyway, check out their very first review from Sleepopolis HERE. Congratulations guys!