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Marketing Experts Wonder Why Industry Avoids Sex

Imagine this: A couple walks into your store and they’re looking around for a new mattress. The guy is clearly irritated because he would rather be home watching the game but the little lady insisted they shop for a new bed because she just couldn’t take it anyMattress_for_Sex longer. They try out a few mattresses and the guy thinks to himself, “Hey, I think I could actually make this experience fun.” While on the king-size deluxe Ultimate Hybrid model (of course), he says to the RSA, “How is this mattress going to perform during our more intimate moments?” as he winks and raises his big furry man ‘brows at his wife. She jabs him in the ribs, and quickly apologizes to the RSA for her husband but the RSA insists that this is no problem and explains that many customers actually ask similar questions. The male RSA then launches into a 10-minute story about his many conquests on different mattress surfaces and provides the couple with a graphic account and recommendation for the best bed for sex.

Are you good with this? Didn’t think so, but the reality is we are not doing much to help that RSA deliver valuable information to the consumer when it comes to a couple wondering what sex is going to be like on that new bed. Do we really think it doesn’t cross people’s minds? Do we also believe our sales force out there – the frontline for the industry – is NOT being asked these types of questions? Will a consumer care if they get that new mattress home and it absolutely stinks when it comes to intimate experiences?

We reached out to our Sleep Geek community of nearly 4,000 members, most of which are RSAs, and asked them a few questions on the subject prior to launching our SexySleep research project. We knew that if we were going to touch on this subject it was critical we learn our way in with the RSA to really understand what we needed to know. Here is what they told us:

  • 87% said they have been asked sex questions during a mattress sale.
  • The majority have never been given any information or training on how to deal with those types of questions.
  • 86% believe that a mattress construction can directly impact the quality of the intimacy experience.
  • 73% say if intimacy can make the mattress more relevant to buyers, then we should be educating consumers on the subject.
  • The overwhelming majority believes we SHOULD BE TALKING about sex in the mattress industry in a tasteful way to create more interest with consumers.

So what are we waiting for? Do we care what the RSA thinks? In our SexySleep research, we found that memory foam could make intimacy “uncomfortable, and even difficult.” We know that the majority of consumers did not think about sex prior to buying their mattress, but once educated a little, the majority of them will make it a determining factor when buying their next mattress. So if all of this is true, what is keeping us from making a more direct connection?

The bottom line here is that consumers care about sex and when they buy one of our products, get it home, and have a bad experience, it can make them very angry. The RSA clearly wants us to build more value in our products by making the connection and they need information from all of us to be knowledgeable on the subject. We all have to realize that the conversation is happening EVERY DAY, but we’re just not participating in it. Why the hell not?

Debate me. Disagree with me. I don’t really care, but get off the sidelines and engage. We can talk about this subject in a very tasteful, educational way that will help the consumer make good decisions.

I was just at the Furniture Today Bedding Conference, where I heard people complaining about the same old thing with the bedding industry – they were sick and tired of everyone always talking about product, price, and promotion. It doesn’t have to be this way. Just get creative and help consumers understand that we can make their sex life even better with our products.

For those of you reading this that think sex isn’t important or that we should not be engaging people on the subject, you need to spend some time and money and speak to 255 consumers on the subject and then come back and tell me we should continue ignoring it.

The headline of this blog is “Marketing Experts Wonder Why Industry Avoids Sex.” At the Furniture Today Bedding Conference, I talked to Scott Bedbury – he’s the guy who helped Nike and Starbucks find huge success through his marketing strategies. When I shared the SexySleep reseearch with him, he almost couldn’t believe we were not already talking about this, so I really don’t think I am crazy. And he’s not the only one. Many industry leaders are taking notice and encouraging the conversation. I have video I will share right here on Q’s Views, so make sure you’ve subscribed. You don’t want to miss it.

Do you think I am crazy? Would you care if your mattress were horrible to have sex on? If your sex life could improve by purchasing a particular type of mattress, would you do it? If your group of friends found out that a mattress could make sex better, would they care? Do you think that Joe Six Pack and Jane Box of Cheap Wine would give a darn?

Don’t sit on the sidelines anymore. Share your thoughts in the comments section.

12 thoughts on “Marketing Experts Wonder Why Industry Avoids Sex

  1. I say putting any RSA in a position to talk about sex with a stranger is a cliff we do not want to face. Can a mattress help and over weight guy be better in bed? Yes. But between a male RSA approaching the subject on their own or handling it correctly when brought up could be pure business folly. Is a mattress a factor in a couples sex life? Yes maybe? But putting a RSA in a position to approach this is a tough call. Should some manufacture point out their design is more conducive to making love on a commercial? Maybe? But it still comes down to the average american burns 27 calories during the average sex act. Yes 27. That is 6 minutes of fury. Yes that is the average. We still need to sell what a great sleep system should be, better sleep. Can a national ad promote the other area, yes. But should we approach this on the sales floor, no.

  2. Mark,

    The ad campaign at Mattress Giant which prominently featured the “oooooh ahhhhh” jingle was dramatically revamped after customer outrage that the jingle sounded like a screaming orgasm. Intimacy in the bedroom is a tricky issue, similar to weight, to bring up in the retail store environment. We should be smart enough to discuss intimacy in a professional manner. With all of the health benefits from a great night’s sleep we should focus on health, comfort, and intimacy. Based on past experience having the themes, like the pillow in the picture, is retail suicide.

  3. Good read, Mark. I definitely feel there is room to go down this road as I have mentioned previously. The question is being asked…but is it more important the price? I’m not sure myself quite honestly. Just sharing some thoughts. Is there simply too much momentum from consumers viewing mattresses as a commodity? Just another “must buy” product they are not excited to purchase. Not to mention most want to spend as little as possible. Do we REALLY feel we could market or sell our products as an “improve your sex life” product? And if so, what does it look like? To seperate spring vs. foam is easy on this subject. But to differentiate between the spring products and how one can better improve your uh hum…intimate moments….I’m not sure what that would look like.

    Don’t get me wrong; I think we could certainly grab the attention using a more progressive (dare I say taboo) approach. But seems to me there is so much history in this industry behind buying “the deal” rather than the products. Not an excuse to change it obviously. Look at the average retail advertisements and what are we communicating? Prices, offers, savings. Bunch of boxes on a page with prices, discounts and “deals”. And when I say that; I don’t mean I subscribe to that direction, but it is a reality I can’t ignore.

    Love the thoughts, Mark. Will be in touch!

    1. Dan, I say if we CHOOSE to continue product, price, and promotion as the primary marketing message then we will not realize our full potential in my opinion. There are those that choose to do more and connect consumers to the emotional side of a mattress and they are seeing the benefits. As for connecting intimacy to our products, I think we are fools if we don’t on SOME LEVEL. I continue to say that we have to be careful about how we talk about that but there is something there. I say again, if the CMO of Pepsi found out that their new formula for Pepsi actually had a direct impact on the quality of intimacy, would they tell the story? There is a reason that they would and it is the same reason we should.

      Thanks for the comment Mr. White.

      MQ

  4. I’ve been in the industry going on 13 years asked a myriad of questions and I have reached a point where I am no longer shocked about what happens in a Sleep Store. You bring up great points about mattress and sex.

    RSA’s are trusted to talk about ALL of the other intimate issues that the customer has from snoring, back pain, medical issues, circulation, position of hips, cuddling (roll together), sleep positions, bladder control (motion – partner getting in and out of the bed disturbing your sleep), etc.

    Intimacy is as much a part of the mattress talk as nonstick is to cookware. You want to know when the time comes that the situation won’t end up horrible. Should RSA’s promote the discussion? NO! If a customer asks a question the RSA should be prepared to answer it. At no time should you make a customer feel uncomfortable about a question or a given situation.

    Think about when you are selling an adjustable base. Most people look at this as an option for ONLY old people. You talk about how it improves your lifestyle and therapy. You can reduce the pressure on the lower back, improve circulation, breathe easier, rotate the hips, relax certain muscle groups, ease tension on the neck while reading, watching tv, having a conversation… Have you also thought about how it can aid in the intimate moments…?

    Bottom line: the mattress goes in the bedroom. The RSA needs to be aware of the various conversations that may occur due to where this product is used.

    1. Russ,
      I agree that the rsa should not be bringing this up on the sales floor but should be prepared with a response when asked. I say WHEN asked instead of IF asked because we already know the consumer is talking about it in the stores. As for the adjustable bed, we actually did a photo shoot for someone that did not get published of different positions for people to get in using the adjustable bed base to help. If you consider people with bad knees, backs, hips, obese people etc. an adjustable bed can make intimacy much more enjoyable from an ergonomics perspective.

      Thanks for reading and for the comment Russ!

      1. We have an adjustable bed and recently started experimenting on positions. It would be great if you could share those pictures, lol!! I’ve been all over Google the past 24 hours trying to find more info and surprisingly, it doesn’t really exist!

        1. ,AAAAAA yes. Well, I can tell you that when I was working at Leggett and Platt we had a customer do a 2-day photo shoot on the different sexual positions that you can get yourself into using your adjustable base for support. She came up with 52 positions believe it or not. Prior to that shoot, she sent me a book on Kama Sutra so we used that as a guide and went to work but she never ended up publishing those for whatever reason. If I ever run across anything I will let you know but for now just use your imagination! 🙂 Thanks for reading.

    2. I agree Russ. There is so much to talk about and if trained correctly we should be able to navigate the conversation correctly. We need to arm the rsa with more information if you ask me. It would help them in a big way! I appreciate you reading the blog!

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