Have you been around the industry a while? I have, though not nearly as long as some of you. I thought it would be fun to take a little stroll down memory lane and review the past 20 years. Tell me whether I remember things the way you do.
The Bedding Brands
Sealy and Simmons were consolidated for the most part, with very fragmented ownership in most licensee organizations. Later, Serta merged into one group as National Bedding bought the majority of the operators. Private equity also came on the scene and changed the way people managed this business.
Bankruptcy claimed some real American icons, such as Montgomery Ward and Levitz. However, we also saw the rise of the very powerful and now dominant specialty sleep concept in Sleepy’s, Mattress Firm, Select Comfort, and The Mattress Giant just to name a few. And who would have ever imagined that people would buy beds online or from a television station such as QVC?
It’s not all about innersprings anymore. Visco, air, gel and latex have all made an impact on the industry and on consumer choices. Everything from these components being used as the core of the bed, to being mixed together with one another to create the best of all worlds in the hybrid. The bed in a box and the mattress topper are also getting more of their share of the consumer’s dollar.
There was a time when we would talk to retailers about adding a $1,000 queen pillow top to their floor with the promise of great sales. We met a lot of resistance doing that because, at the time, nobody really had products at those prices. Now, over half of the business being done today is above the $1,000 queen price point.
For a long time, we were stuck on “product for a price” advertising at retail with some brand building being done by the major manufacturers. As Tempur-Pedic and Select Comfort came on the scene with their MONSTER ad budgets, we saw a different approach to bedding that has forever changed our business. That change was for the better. The mattress is now being connected to good sleep and good sleep is connected to good life. Who doesn’t want that?
Here is the funny part – the people have pretty much stayed the same. True, many of us have changed companies, or even jumped from producer to retailer to supplier, but for the most part, you see the usual suspects.
There is no doubt I love this industry, but as I write this, it has me thinking.
- Have we changed enough in this business?
- When you look at other industries out there, such as electronics, appliances, furniture, or even automobiles, are we changing fast enough?
- When you think about the impact that word of mouth marketing (WOMM) has with the consumer today, do we get our fair share of that conversation?
- Are we positioned well to change our customer, or do we have a lot more work to do?
What are you thinking?