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Tempur-Pedic Embraces Hybrids, No Longer Bashing Springs

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?

hybrid

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Tempur-Pedic Embraces Hybrids, No Longer Bashing Springs

  1. Hi Mark:

    I realize that Tempur-Pedic’s decision to enter the hybrid market is beyond my control and certainly above my pay grade, but I would like to profer just one opinion. (This coming from one of the soldiers on the front line, so to speak) You are right in saying this offers a moral dilemma of sorts for those, like myself, who have convinced themselves of the advantages of the “new generation” or “new technology” beds.

    I can understand a company’s desire to penetrate as much of the market as possible, but I strongly believe they are diluting the message that I have to offer my clients. Am I going to lose some sales (thinking as a Tempur-Pedic executive) to the competion if I don’t offer some semblence of what they offer? Of course I will. But I would ask ANY company executive if trying to gain these sales by increasing my menu is really wise in the long run. I highly doubt if Olive Garden will ever start offering Mexican cuisine or Chick-Fil-E will ever start offering hamburgers. At what price do we try to please everyone? Is it really worth leaving behind the core values of what brought us to where we are?

    As a fun exercise, Google “quotes about pleasing everyone” and you’ll see a definitive slant towards the wisdom of NOT trying to do just that. Bill Cosby said it as well as anybody.

    Of course, as a professional salesperson, my interests and priorities are not unlike Tempur-Pedics. I want as much as I can get, too. I’m just not sure if I am willing to “double-speak” to a public that is putting their trust in me as both a sleep expert and a tandem partner in their shopping experience.

    1. Kevin,
      That is some great perspective. I was looking for a good analogy when I wrote this post and I really like yours pertaining to Chi-Fil-A. I wonder if there are many opinions like this out there?!? We really appreciate your well thought out comment here.

  2. Mark,

    First of all if Tempur-Pedic is going to be compared to an organized crime boss, I think it’s fairly obvious that we are Don Vito Corleone. Don’t worry after reading your article I’m not going to put a horse head in your bed, although hypothetically if I did and you have a Tempur-Pedic, the stain wouldn’t void your warranty☺

    As a proud Tempur-Pedic employee for over four years, and as the National Sales Trainer who has trained thousands of RSA’s across the country on Tempur-Pedic I am compelled to reply to your article. I disagree with some of your points and would like to offer my point of view from my biased seat, but also from the perspective of someone who has been an RSA, delivered mattresses first hand to customers, a Sales Manager, a vendor rep, a trainer, and has watched this industry change dramatically over the past 11 years.

    First let me address the point about being hypocrites. Are we hypocrites for creating a new hybrid bed? Not in my opinion. Are we controversial within the industry with our new product launch? Always and forever. That’s just who we are. We behave differently and make decisions that always tend to ruffle industry feathers. Look no further than our decision last year to reduce our warranty to 10 years. At my training events all over the country I was personally accused of being a hypocrite for supporting this decision. At least 100 times I heard some variation of “if you’re beds are so great then why reduce your warranty from 25 to 10 years. You’re clearly talking out of both sides of your mouth. You’re a hypocrite”. But now that the warranty dust has settled we have once again proven ourselves as industry leaders, our retailers applauded our bold decision, most of our competitors followed suit, and credibility of the industry has improved now that reasonable expectations are being set. Just remember we made that decision knowing full well that it would be met with gasps, accusations, and flags saying ‘hypocrite’ would be waved all over the place. But that’s how we roll, and that’s reason 73 why I love to work here.

    So we made a Hybrid bed, finally. Do you think we weren’t aware that this too would be met with gasps, accusations, and the preverbal ‘hypocrite’ flag? Of course we did. So what’s going to happen a year from now when this dust settles? I can’t predict the future but let’s just say I’m highly optimistic. And as far as us ‘changing our direction’ on what made us who we are that simply isn’t true. We didn’t discontinue the rest of our core lineup that our brand was built on, we simply added one more option. Also, no one that I know of at Tempur-Pedic has ‘embraced’ innerspring technology and now magically loves coils. That’s why our new Flex beds don’t have any of the coils the rest of the industry has. Traditional coils, wrapped or not, don’t work with Tempur Material. We have a massive R&D department as well. We’ve tested it.

    (Let me just add that I’m only talking about Tempur-Pedic here. I work for Tempur-Sealy and we have great brands of innerspring beds. This response is strictly from the POV of our Tempur-Pedic Brand).

    Our new Flex beds have an exclusive coil system that we designed ourselves and partnered with your friends and Leggett and Platt to help create. But are we going to play the coil count game? No we’re not. Are we going to highlight the Hybrid technology? No we are not. We’re not because we don’t hold ourselves to the industry standard, and first and foremost the new Flex Beds are Tempur-Pedic beds with the same Tempur-Pedic feel and with all the same Tempur-Pedic benefits that the rest of our beds have offered for years (and yes, the Flex beds pass the glass of wine test). But that doesn’t mean we’re hiding anything. I’ll gladly stand on a table and shout whatever you want me to about these beds (especially after a few of those shots you’re offering). If and when RSA’s want tech and spec info on these beds we’ll gladly hand it over, but like we’ve always done, we’ll hand it over with the caveat of ,”Remember Tempur-Pedic beds use a different and unique technology than the rest of the industry.” You can’t compare specs between different technologies accurately, and more importantly you shouldn’t, because spec selling is wrecked selling. Sell on feel and benefits. My ultimate training advice is; have the customer try our bed for 10 minutes, have the customer try their bed for 10 minutes, then let them make up their own minds. I say that with a slight smirk however because I know (and the industry knows) that Tempur-Pedic beds feel amazing and no other foam bed has that Tempur Adapt feel.

    Speaking of comfortable beds, I can’t wait for you to try the new Flex beds, because guess what they DON’T feel like; any other hybrid bed out there. At market a few weeks ago we showed these beds to all of our retailers and everyone agreed that these beds are going to be a home run because they still feel just like a Tempur, and the differentiation between them and the rest of the Hybrid category is clearly demonstrable. That said I do completely agree with your point that these beds will cause a lift in the hybrid category over all. But that point has precedent. Again, look at our success and the trend that’s occurring in the adjustable base category. We were the first bedding vendor to say EVERY bed should have an adjustable base underneath it. And when we said it, again, it was met with gasps and accusations (are you picking up on the pattern yet?).

    All that said I don’t think you are a Tempur-Pedic hater, and I am a huge fan of Sleep-Geek and how you and Mark are committed to improving this industry and making it a fun and great place to work. I posted this because I wanted to speak to the Tempur-Pedic haters that are out there (and believe me, there are LOTS of them). But why are there so many haters? Well the definition of hater is: “Someone who wants to be like you, but can’t”. This is a big industry with a lot of bedding manufacturers. Tempur-Pedic happens to be the manufacturer who completely transformed the industry, multiple times BTW, and has risen to be the most recognizable, most sought after, and arguably the most successful bedding company to date. We make beds that deliver on our promise to provide significantly better sleep. The new Flex beds have the same promise, with a new inviting feel that will appeal to people who like the idea of Tempur-Pedic, but prefer a more responsive feel.

    So are we hypocrites? Not in my opinion. We do have a history however of making bold decisions that are ahead of their time., and proven in time to be good for our customers, and good for business. And I’m pretty sure that could be a definition for ‘Gangster’.

    We’re gonna make them an offer they can’t refuse.
    – Don Corleone

    1. Bryant,
      First of all I sincerely appreciate the time you took to respond to my blog post. You did a FANTASTIC job of communicating some very valid points on this subject and I think that anyone reading this would agree with many of them. Before I react, I want to thank you for NOT placing the horse head in my bed. My wife loves animals and the mess would be too much, so you have my gratitude.

      Second, we will agree to disagree on Tempur-Pedic being somewhat hypocritical as it relates to bashing springs and now using springs. You have some great spin on that here but I call them like I see them and this one is pretty black and white to me. I’m not saying it was a bad move, and I’m not saying that it won’t work, I just think you guys have some work to do to overcome that. If anyone can get there, it is without a doubt you guys.

      Lastly, I do agree with many points that you made about your company in terms of leading the industry. Between you and Sleep Number, nobody has done more to build the adjustable bed business than you guys and your move on warranty was the right thing to do; and the courageous thing to do. Real leaders make those tough calls and sometimes find themselves on that dead tree branch, but you guys did what you did knowing it could put you at a competitive disadvantage and that took some serious guts! I would encourage Tempur-Sealy to continue to lead because the industry needs you that way. There are some things that you have followed the industry on and that doesn’t work as well for you guys, so stay in front when you can.

      In closing…I will cap this off by giving your company due credit. In my humble opinion, there is nobody in this industry that has inspired more positive change than Tempur-Pedic. (Sleep Number should get some credit here also but they are not distributed in traditional channels so it doesn’t apply as much to them.) Other companies out there worked hard on product development because of what you guys brought to the industry. (You invented a category that didn’t exist after all.) Other manufactures are advertising again because of the pressure you put on them and as mentioned before, adjustable beds are what they are today because of your vision on the category. The average ticket has grown drastically since Tempur-Pedic has been a factor in the industry and EVERYBODY out there can thank you guys for that. (Even if they are not out there giving you proper credit.) No smoke here, just my honest take on the Tempur impact.

      Again, thanks for the feedback Don Corleone and I appreciate that we didn’t have to “go to the mattresses” to have a good debate.

      MQ

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