I received my Furniture Today email and was very surprised to see THIS ARTICLE from my good buddy Dave Perry recapping the most recent Consumer Reports (CR) article on the mattress industry. So what did it say? That the top dog, the guys that created the entire memory foam class have dropped to last place based on “several factors.” To make that even more interesting, the #1 and #3 ranked products are Casper and Tuft and Needle at a mere fraction of the price. Serta did well with an iComfort Savant landing at #4 but Sealy Optimum was down at #24 on the list.
If your one of the big brands your probably going to attack the publications testing methods and you would be right to do so. It has been suggested for a long time that there are problems with the way CR looks at our category but, it is what it is. Do consumers believe all of this? From what I have read, the relevance of this publication is shrinking every year because there is an even better way for a consumer to vet their next mattress purchase and it’s called the consumer review.
Today, if you want to learn more about the product you are going to buy you can simply look for opinions on one of these 10 review sites or even better, visit You Tube and watch someone deliver a close-up look on video. This way of shopping has become the great equalizer in the mattress business and has allowed companies that may not have the name brand recognition of Tempur-Pedic or one of the “S” brands to realize great success because the consumer has voted in their favor. So if you discount the Consumer Reports article and then look to the reviews to tell the story, you still end up with Casper and Tuft and Needle leading the pack, so go figure. ( I speak about brand recognition vs. brand preference in a past post titled “Can You Feel The Shift” so check that out if you are compelled.)
I am not a fan of foam beds to begin with but I have to defend Tempur-Pedic and Sealy on this one. I don’t know what Consumer Reports is looking at but I have been in the industry over 25 years, tried most of the beds I am writing about today, and I am having a hard time understanding how Casper and Tuft and Needle have come out on top here.
Is it possible that they are getting these reviews because they are the cool kid and seen as disruptive by the business media? Is it possible that their minimalist approach to making a bed just performs better and the rest of the industry is over building their products? I wish I had the answer but this just doesn’t pencil for me.
What do you think, did Consumer Reports get it right? Dish the scoop if you have the inside!
As we monitor the brand search on google the new web boys rank on top with Temp about half as much search and the big S’s very little if any. It’s hard to believe in the report when the product still seems to enjoy good sales.
CR’s has long been accused for being influenced by dollars, unions, and insider back room deals in their secret formulas of rankings. As I recall 60 minutes and numerous TV news personalities over the years have taken them to task for misleading rankings with accusations of being bought off by manufacturers.
I’m not saying that is what happened here nor if those rumors are even true. I’m just pointing out that they have a scarlet reputation for being less than honest and fair that seems (based on the volume of accusations) may have a note of truth.
It has also been suggested that Consumer Reports plays to the whims of popular opinion to garner good will, perhaps even unknowingly. If a product is getting a lot of media attention or ad placement CR seems to give them better rankings. As they fall in media popularity or advertising dollars spent (even though those dollars are not spent on CS sites or publications) they drop in the rankings year over year for the latest new-thing-of-the-moment popularity.
I agree Michael, if there is a lot of smoke, there is typically fire. Interesting point on correlation of products that are enjoying some popularity to how they do in the testing. If there is a “hot brand” then bringing the attention to them serves CP as well. Thanks for the comment!
Mark…I don’t know if this has any correlation to the results, but if you look at the “Best Mattresses of 2016 – Consumer Reports” article on their web site, the last paragraph under their number six pick, Novaform 14″ Serafina Pearl Gel (Costco), in tiny print reads:
“Shopping links are provided by eBay Commerce Network and Amazon, which makes it easy to find the right product from a variety of online retailers. Clicking any of the links will take you to the retailer’s website to shop for this product. Please note that Consumer Reports collects fees from both eBay Commerce Network and Amazon for referring users. We use 100% of those fees to fund our testing programs”. Maybe there is a “link” between offering “highly rated” beds on these two sites which in turn provides “fees” to Consumer Reports?
It seems Consumer Reports continues to lose credibility with store owners, consumers, and manufacturers alike. What materially changed with Tempur’s beds to go from highly ranked to #33? How can you rank a bed with no memory foam in the top 3 of memory foam beds? What changed in the construction of Casper 1.5″ memory foam and Tuft N Needle no memory foam that propelled them from a lower ranking to #1 and #3. I know criminals with more integrity than Consumer Reports!
Great points Pete!
Thanks for raising this topic, Mark. Your post here inspired me to write a blog post of my own, as my feelings on this are less ambiguous: When it comes to mattresses, Consumers Reports is worse than terrible — their conclusions are ignorant and completely misleading. And the collateral damage for their reckless misinformation includes both consumers and a lot of good companies.
As you know, GoodBed has no stake in who comes out on top per se, and we have no business relationship with Tempur-Pedic. My commitment is simply to providing good information — so that the consumer gets the truth and good companies are rewarded for the good things they do. And in my mind, to rank Tempur-Pedic as the worst memory foam mattress brand (and by a large margin) is a wildly misleading conclusion that is the result of an inherently flawed methodology. Where I believe Consumer Reports’ problem lies is that they are uninformed dilettantes masquerading as mattress experts.
This blog post explains why I think this, identifies some specific examples of flaws in their methodology, and deconstructs how these flaws led to such a confounding set of conclusions related to Tempur-Pedic and others:
This is not the first time that Consumer Reports has released irresponsibly misleading information about mattresses. Personally, I’m getting pretty d— tired of it, and I’m equally tired of the mainstream media continuing to treat them as leading experts in this category. We certainly intend to call BS on their faulty methodology and misleading information. I hope others in the industry will help us spread this message.
Amen Michael! I agree 100% and support you in calling BS on Consumer Reports!
Thanks for the detailed comments Mike and I agree with everything except for your suggestion that the New York times is a reputable news agency. 🙂 I do believe that you can make money as a review site and still give an honest opinion but in this case it is clearly not happening. Is it negligence or something more, I don’t know but most that I have talked to in this industry have the same opinion, it does not represent reality.
I support you. Consumer Reports continues to lose credibility with such reports.
I have often been left scratching my head after reading through a set of Consumer Reports reviews. When it comes to mattresses, as well as other items, I have often noticed they don’t often select the top tiered model from a company for their reviews. Additionally, I have noticed that when members have had a chance to post their personal reviews on the website, they generally tend to be in complete disagreement with the Consumer Report write-up.
Tempur-pedic’s warranty is pure garbage. I spent 6k on a
“top of the line” tempur-pedic.
4 years later is so worn out that I had to buy a new mattress. It had 6 inch depressions for the head and butt area and the foam is breaking down.
I’m not a heavy person nor is my wife she’s 5’7 110lbs I’m 6’5 225lbs.
We submitted a warranty claim and we where told that it’s normal wear.
I should of listened to the many negative reviews, but I listened to the sales person instead.
I’ll never waste my money on anything tempur-pedic again. We went with a sleep number and it’s amazing. Don’t lose out like we did. If your going buy a tempur-pedic you can afford a sleep number.
Sorry you had that trouble Tim but that is not normal for Tempur-Pedic customers. They have built the most recommended mattress brand in the world and you don’t get there if you consistently fail. Sounds like you had a bad experience and I’m sorry for that…and very glad you are sleeping well now. In full disclosure I work for a company that is now owned by Tempur/Sealy but that has nothing to do with this comment. Just facts.