2019 Las Vegas summer market is over and it was a success according to most that I talked to. As always, traffic is much lighter than the January market, but the people that are there want to do business so you normally end up in some very fruitful conversations.
I was there talking to Spink and Co customers and prospects and I am very happy to say things went well for us on that front. It’s always fun to see people be surprised and delighted with what you do. Mark Kinsley and I also hosted a Dos Marcos Meet-Up in the Englander space with about 100 of our best pals and it was a big success, so thank you to all that attended!!!!! I also played Top Golf with PureCare and met some great fans of the podcast, saw a terrific Prince impersonator show, and got to review the brand new iComfort line by Serta. That is a great market.
Serta asked that Dos Marcos come in and take a look at the iComfort program, so we met up with Onney Crawley from Serta to get the full presentation. Onney is really great and did a terrific job of sharing that story so thank you Onney for being so gracious on the tour. I also want to thank Alissa Stevens and Caroline Seume with Serta’s PR firm the Zeno Group, who were a big help and a lot of fun to hang out with. (“The fearless pursuit of the unexpected.” LOVE THAT.)
(If you want to do a deeper dive and hear Mark Kinsley and I talk about this new iComfort line just click on the link below and listen to Dos Marcos podcast.)
What really impressed me from the beginning was the investment that Serta made in research to develop the line. I am a HUGE fan of asking consumers to offer opinions so you have something to guide you to the finished product. This also helps minimize your guesswork and gives you the ability to say to the retailer that “the consumer built this line”. The real trick here is paying attention to the right stuff!
To sum it all up, Serta has brought in some raw materials to build a “Next Level Cooling and Support” story. They use Gel Active Max memory Foam, UltraCool System carbon fiber memory foam, Max Cool Cover’s, and Air Support Foam to bring that “sleeps cool” story to life. One of my favorite things about this new line is the snowflake ranking system to help the consumer understand how it all works together. The more snowflakes on a bed, the cooler the sleep. Got it.
The feels of the beds on the starting numbers at $1499 were not all that impressive but I sort of understand that. The competition is delivering great value at $499 in queen these days, so to differentiate is much more difficult. As you go up the line however, you can see how using these different foam building blocks really add value to the story and to how comfortable the beds feel.
These mattresses looked good but the tick was pretty average and didn’t really stand out for me, however, it had a terrific hand and a nice cool feel when you touched it. When it comes to the point of sale, there is a lot of opportunity for iComfort. They use blue for the color pallet which makes sense given the cooling story they are telling, but the design didn’t really get me all that fired up, nor did it really set off the product or help advance the story in any way. Given the competition in the memory foam category, I think you really have to get this part right. They certainly did on their initial launch if iComfort.
If you can bring a new line to market and make it demonstrable in any way, you will be rewarded for that. The new iComfort program has a FANTASTIC way of telling the carbon memory foam story using a light bulb. You place the light bulb on the new carbon memory foam and it lights up, showing the consumer how carbon acts as a conductor to help draw heat away from the body. The big question here is, will the consumer see that and start to wonder if their bed allows for electricity to flow through it. Sure we get “heat transfer” because we are in the industry but consumers look at this stuff differently. If Serta figures out how to make sure the rsa can communicate their story effectively using the light bulb, this will be a big win for them and one of the coolest selling tools on the retail floors. I wonder if this demonstration will work with sheep’s wool? 🙂
Things have been rough for SSB in the last six months and they needed something really positive to reverse course, so the big question is, did they do that with this line? The feedback I have been getting from several retailers has been positive with most saying that it is an improvement on where iComfort was. The question is, will that reaction deliver Serta the big win, allowing them to pick up sku’s with their current partners? Only time will tell!
Maybe great products can’t solve ALL of your problems but man O man, they can get close. Consider some of the opportunities facing retailers today and how a strong merchandising strategy can make life so much better. (It’s market time so there is a little selling at the end. 🙂 Thought you should know.)
Differentiate or die: It’s the title of one of my favorite business books and a good lesson for all. If your store is pretty much like every other store in your market, then you need to set yourself apart or you give no reasons for the consumer to shop with you instead of your competition. Your people can make that difference but so can’t your products. Carry a line that will blow people away because it looks and feels different than what everyone else has, and if your selling story is good enough, consumers will leave your store telling their friends. Do you have products like that, and if not why not?
Profits are the fuel: Rising acquisition cost, expensive financing cost, overhead, commissions, delivery fees, giveaways etc., There are a lot of things chipping away at your bottom line and your product assortment needs to provide you the healthy margins you need so you can promote your business, to sell more products, to make more profits to promote your business, to sell more products to make more profits and on it goes. How many beds on your floor carry 70% margins? What if you had more?
Stories matter: When we were kids we learned a lot of very important lessons from people that loved us, telling us stories. Some of the most iconic brands in our universe got that way because they were master storytellers that didn’t sell us 64G of storage space. They told us that we had 1000 songs in our pocket and then showed us the kind of joy that would deliver with people dancing around your screen. Do the products you carry capture the hearts and minds of your consumers or are they just like every other brand in the market?
Bottom line is this…what if you had a product line that was so sexy the story was actually fun for your sales force to share. Products that made you so much money there was actually something left over for you, and because of your vision as an incredible merchant looking out for their consumer, you were able to secure exclusive distribution and not share it with anyone?
I am really proud to be one of the founders of Spink and Co bedding and believe it or not, our collection of luxury mattresses does all of this and more. But don’t take my word for it, let me connect you to one of our retail partners and you can hear it from them. We grow our beds on our own 300-acre farm in Yorkshire, England using the wool from our own sheep and the hemp and flax from our fields. The Queen herself has celebrated our company with 5 awards for things like innovation and sustainability. But the best part is how these beds look and feel, so if you want to experience something nobody in the industry can offer you, please stop in and see me at Las Vegas Market in Dormeo space in B980. If you can’t make it just call me at 630-788-7138 or email me at email@example.com.
Don’t forget about the Dos Marcos Meet-Up in Vegas on July 28th @4pm space C-1596 in the Englander showroom. Why stand in the hot and sweaty cab lines, hang out with us and have a cocktail! Trent Ranburger is our special guest host so swing by and enjoy some fellowship.
Also check out this podcast with one of our sponsors Sarah Bergan from PureCare. She is awesome and does an amazing job talking us through the sleep essentials category and why it is so important for mattress retailers to lean into this opportunity to build tickets and grow profits. Sarah gives up some very good tips on how to be successful in selling sheets, pillows and protectors so don’t miss it!!!
This poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a great reminder that it is our people that make this nation great. It’s the blood they poured out in battles to protect our freedom, and the grit, will and resolve from those men and women that keep us free today.
Enjoy your friends and families this weekend, and pause on the fact that you are blessed to live in the greatest country on the planet, then give thanks to those that make it possible.
A Nation’s Strength
By Ralph Waldo Emerson
What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?
It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.
Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.
And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.
Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
Mark Kinsley and I had an in-depth conversation about the Tempur-Pedic and Mattress Firm reconciliation so if you have not given that a listen, check it out here.
After giving it some more thought, there are a few things I thought I would go a little deeper on. If you really think about it, there are a lot of positives that will come out of this renewed partnership.
Jobs. Tempur-Sealy is saying that they are about to hire an additional 700 people which we know can’t be completely tied back to this announcement but I’m guessing the majority of these jobs can be. Giving people an opportunity for a career is always a good thing so this is a huge win for them.
This union could make the Mattress Firm a more successful company possibly creating more jobs, giving them access to one of the strongest brands in the category, ultimately driving top and bottom line results.
Even though retailers out there will have to compete with Mattress Firm for Tempurpedic, Sealy, and Stearns and Foster sales, the additional advertising in the market will definitely serve everyone well, bringing more attention to the category. Most of the retailers I talk to are confident that their sales force and store services can compete well with Mattress Firm so if that’s true, then the additional advertising should be a win for everyone.
In a weird way, it’s a good thing for Serta/Simmons Bedding as well. This will force SSB to get more aggressive with their product offerings adding more value to what they are doing for the retailer. Get ready guys because your phone is about to start ringing if it hasn’t already. From what I’m being told by SSB insiders, their CEO Dave Swift is hard at work on a strategy that is going to drive them forward.
I guess the downside could be that when two big companies make massive changes like this there is a serious ripple effect for the rest of the industry. Suppliers will have to reconcile inventories, some job titles will be changing, and there is some uncertainty around the supply chain given the new demand Tempur/Sealy will be facing. The bottom line here is that if you continue adding value in what you offer and how you do your job, there will be opportunities. At least that’s what the free market tells us right? What’s the impact going to be on your business if any? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
As I travel the country and talk to retail sales associates selling Spink and Co beds I get a lot of great feedback. Most of it is very positive but every now and then I hear something that sounds my alarm. The natural reaction to this for me and I’m sure for many of you, is to jump into action and address the issue. But is it really an issue?
I have seen HUGE mistakes made by business leaders (including myself) because they don’t thoroughly vet the feedback they are getting. Is it anecdotal or is there something to it? How often is it coming up? What is the proof that what is being suggested as a problem or opportunity really is something that needs to be addressed?
My friendly reminder to you today is that when you get feedback from people you should obviously listen to it, evaluate it, test the idea as much as you can, look for other consistent threads from different sources to see if it’s real or contrived, and only then should you act.
A few examples:
A buyer walks the floor and hears from his top salesperson that they really need a plush bed at a certain price point when the data says that only firm beds work up there.
An operations guy says that doing it “this way” is too difficult and takes too long until you do a time study and see for yourself that it actually helps you in multiple ways.
Your wife gives you directions on how to get places because it is a “better way to go” but Google maps says she is FULL OF IT. Not sure this one really applies. You are probably better off not listening to a computer over your spouse…the ultimate price is much greater than the cost of a few extra minutes.
Bottom line…don’t jump in, wade in, and make sure what you are hearing is more than one guy’s opinion. Not that you shouldn’t act on those every now and then, but for the big stuff you are better off proving it out in multiple ways.
Can you think of a time when you leaped before you looked? Share it with me in the comments section.