furnitureLeadershipManagementmarketingmattress industrymattresses

The Law Of Duality

“In the long term, every market becomes a two horse race.” Really? I don’t think so. Especially in the mattress industry!

Law #8 in the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is the Law of Duality which basically says if you are not in the top two you are likely not doing much in the way of market share. In our industry the top four guys are separated by a very slim margin of market share. So how is it that we buck this law? I’m not sure I have the answer but I will suggest a few things for your consideration:

It is a very close race.
It’s a very close race.
  1.  Serta, Sealy, and Simmons really haven’t invested in their brand all that much. Don’t get me wrong, they are investing like crazy through co-op advertising spend, some national budget, and certainly through their sales force acting as brand ambassadors but in the long run, nobody has really pulled away from the pack. When you give the majority of your marketing budget to retailers to place product and price promotions on your behalf, it does very little to advance the consumer preference for your brand or to do what you really need it to, which is to separate you from everyone else.
  2. The “S” brands have never really found the sweet spot in a message or ad campaign to make them that much different from the other guys. I will give some credit to Serta with the Counting Sheep because they have advanced that pretty well over the years, but it has not helped them pull away from their competition leaving anyone in the dust.
  3. The products are all pretty much the same. Forgive me for speaking such blasphemy but at the end of the day tell me what makes them so different from one another? They all use foam cores, innerspring cores, ticking, foam toppers, gel/foam toppers, some latex here and there, they all have some sort of edge support, and they all have the exact same box spring. (Well it does exactly the same thing anyway.) Yes there are some differences in components but when it comes right down to it, does the consumer really get it? Aren’t all of the manufacturers sort of clustered together? You could easily say the same about other consumer product groups today, but if they are significantly ahead of their competition, they have likely done either #1, or #2 very well to help them pull away.

If you are going to be one of the top two guys dominating an industry you have to figure some of that out. If you look at other industries where two guys dominate, I bet one of these three things I point out here are different, meaning they do STAND OUT in some way.

If you are wondering why I have not mentioned Tempur-Pedic, its because they do stand out for a few different reasons but still have not run away with any market share lead which begs the question why? Their product used to be significantly different, their marketing spend is much higher, and their message is much better if you ask me. All that said, they should be better off than the other guys but even they haven’t blown anyone away.

It is not my intention to upset anyone, but simply to point a few things out as it relates to this book. It isn’t as easy as I make it sound here as there are many more factors but you can see some of what I am getting at. We need to give the top guys some credit because changing some of this stuff is incredibly difficult. It is very easy to say that you need to spend more on your brand but convincing the bean counters of that isn’t easy. So for now we will likely continue to be an industry that is happy to define our own immutable laws.



3 thoughts on “The Law Of Duality

  1. I always enjoy your articles. I agree with point #1,2, and 3 wholeheartedly. The brands have not spent nearly enough on true national advertising. There is little true differentiation between them. I think what Tempur-Pedic has done in the short span of time they have been in business is incredible. When they came into existence Sealy was the reigning #1 mattress company by volume. They recently bought Sealy for cash(last few years). I am well aware Sealy was on a downhill slide when they were bought but that’s still impressive. Tempur had a message and a strategy and have done a lot since their founding in 1992. Since Serta & Simmons are merged, isn’t it really a two horse race versus Tempur-Sealy??

    1. I had not thought about it that way Pete but I see your point. Now that the ownership has consolidated it puts them all in two boats, but as brands they are still relatively close in market share. My money says, that because they are owned by only two different groups, they are even less likely to break away from one another. Thanks for reading and for the comment.

  2. Hope all is well with you, Mark
    Interesting take on duality – I agree that this is not a single issue – more of a super king, king and queen sized problem

    A radical solution springs to my mind…


    The cart and the horse were once a preferred double act
    Supplanted by the motorized vehicle and that’s a fact
    It took time and there were obstacles to overcome
    Gas stations and skilled mechanics being two of some
    The transport industry was powered by both need and desire
    Enabling one to get from A to B by motor much quicker than by shire
    Similarly we seek better products to transport us from alert to asleep
    Getting us from A to z by design and innovation – radically in a leap

    Happy Mondays

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