I am binge watching a great series on Amazon Prime right now called Boardwalk Empire. The main character named Nucky is the mob boss that runs things in Atlantic City. He is one of these bad guys that you find yourself cheering for, (think Mr. White in Breaking Bad). Anyway, he is in front of the women’s temperance league during the height of prohibition, speaking on the negative impact alcohol can have on families. He exits the stage, walks to his car, and pulls out his flask for a big tug of whiskey. The obvious hypocrisy of it all is absurd, but it makes a great impact to set the stage for the series.
Speaking of hypocrisy, isn’t that what we are witnessing here with the sudden shift on Tempur-Pedic’s part to embrace innersprings as good and a favorable way to build a mattress? Have the rest of you in the market been making innerspring beds wrong and somehow Tempur-Pedic found the keys to the kingdom and have finally figured out the right way to make an innerspring bed? (Does the Tempur-Pedic product really give you twice the support?) Or is it simply that the hybrid category is so compelling that they are willing to completely abandon their earlier position that innersprings are bad, cause pressure, and are totally inferior to Tempur material? If you really think about it, they built their business in part by attacking innerspring beds as horrible, and are now embracing that construction to make some money.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Chances are they are going to do very well with this but I sit here wondering if they will have any issues in this transition. Think about it. You have trained your entire staff to sell your position on Tempur material being the end all be all and far superior to air and innerspring as construction options. Do any of their own people have a problem with this as they now have to go back to the rsa and contradict all those years of training on the sales floor? How about the rsa themselves? Will they embrace Tempur-Pedic in changing direction this way or will their moral compass alert flash red?
At the end of the day I guess it really just boils down to what will sell. If the products look and feel right and can generate sales and profits for all involved then we as an industry can pivot where needed. If I were the retailer I would likely welcome the new products with open arms if I knew they would deliver some profit, so don’t think I am on some high horse here. I will even go a step further and say that by Tempur-Pedic getting into the hybrid category it will help everyone in it.
I have enough to think about these days so I will leave this conversation up to everyone else from here on out. (Okay, that was a lie.) HOWEVER…after being an innerspring marketing guy for the past 8 years and deflecting the criticism of the category inflicted by the Tempur team, I feel like I have the right to share a few thoughts on the subject. Isn’t it funny when you boil it all down? The main reason that we made the term hybrid popular in the industry was to defend ourselves from Tempur-Pedic and Select Comfort’s attacks on the innerspring category. Since then, the success of the hybrid mattress has driven Tempur-Pedic into the market with spring beds so I guess you could say, they pushed themselves into the spring business. Hmmm.
By the way, if you think I am a Tempur-Pedic HATER then you are wrong. Read just this one post of mine where I give them a significant amount of credit for what they do and who they are. But sometimes you gotta call it like you see it. (I think I got the Simplicity launch correct after reading this post again.)
What do you think, am I being fair here? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
P.S. Tempur-Pedic people, we welcome you to this wonderful world of innerspring mattresses and hope that you are here to stay. We don’t require you to get a tattoo or anything like that to be part of the “hybrid club” but we do want you to own it. So the next time we are sharing a drink together at an industry event, I would like for one of you to stand tall, puff your chest out a little, take a pull on the afore mentioned flask of whiskey and say, “Tempur-Pedic has a hybrid dammit, and we are proud of it!” I will even buy the whiskey.