Why did the Palm Pilot all but disappear from the consumer lexicon? The device was great when it came out, wasn’t it? You could manage your calendar, take notes, keep contacts organized, and much more. Millions of people LOVED the Palm Pilot, so what happened?
As you may know, the Palm Pilot merged with several other devices that used to operate independently. Cell phones gobbled up the PDA, music player, camera, gaming system, GPS, and more to create a HYBRID device. Look around you. Life is filled with hybrids. You have hybrid cars, (electric + gas), hybrid animals like the Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel + Poodle), and even a hybrid golf club (wood + iron), which can really help your game if you find yourself 175 yards out.
What is a consumer’s definition of a hybrid and why should we use it in the mattress industry? Consumers tell us that a hybrid is “the best of two things combined into one.” If you take two great things and merge them together, you often create something remarkable and the consumer gets that. But how does this concept apply to us?
Consider Dave Perry’s recent article in which he talks about the combination of an innerspring bed with a visco comfort layer. The science says that innersprings sleep 28% cooler than many foam surfaces, and we know that a major complaint of visco is that it sleeps too hot. However, when you combine innersprings and visco, you come out with a much better story, don’t you? The fact of the matter is that innersprings have been around for a long time and for good reason. The core provides great support that does not lose firmness over time, not to mention it can be a great comfort element. If you start talking about hybrids, meaning combining innersprings with other great comfort layers like latex or gel, you speak to the consumer in a way they can relate.
Over the past several months, we have been talking to RSAs about the hybrid concept and, based on their feedback, we are convinced the description will help the consumer EASILY understand the construction of a bed. Hybrid is a word you may already be using to describe certain mattresses, but it isn’t really an industry term (yet, anyway). I think it will catch on and, in the process, transform the sales floor by giving RSAs a new way to talk about a bed that combines two great things into one which may lead to less hesitation when it comes time to make a purchasing decision.
New language can transform nearly any industry, and bedding is no different. Consider an example from wristwatch makers. When low-cost Japanese digital watches hit the American market, it was a big problem for manufacturers. In response to the new competition, a company called SMH decided to launch its low-cost alternative as a fashion item, positioning the timepiece as something desirable. SMH avoided trying to compete with price and instead used positioning to build value. You probably know this brand as Swatch!
To recap why the language evolution matters:
- Almost any time you simplify something for consumers, you are going to win big. If you can make it easy for people to grab on to what is inside that rectangle you are selling (which they hate shopping for because of all the confusion around it to begin with), you are going to help them in the process.
- Hybrid is already a popular term that is aligned with technology and product evolution. If you want to borrow interest from an established concept to build value in what you do, using the term hybrid makes a lot of sense.
- Under the right circumstances, if you combine two things that are already good into one product, the result is often an item that’s better than the sum of its parts. What kid out there doesn’t love a pillow pet? COME ON!
Have you been using the term hybrid to describe certain beds? If so, how are people responding? Tell me in the comments section below. If you’re not using the term hybrid on the sales floor, try it out for awhile and leave me some feedback about your experience.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the thinking of the company I work for, or anyone else with whom I am affiliated. Except my wife of course, who is good at telling me what not to say.