The mattress industry is a sharky place. Billions of dollars are up for grabs each year and any shift in consumer sentiment has the potential to make, or break, fortunes. Historically there have only been a handful of companies such as Serta, Sealy, and Sleep Number that have dominated the minds of consumers. Recently however, the guerrilla marketing campaigns of a new genre of mattress companies such as Purple Mattress have began chipping out a market share.
Death and taxes—the infamous description of life’s only certainties—applies to the mattress industry as much as anything else. The best mattresses on the market have historically been priced in the range of decent used cars. These brands offer little assurance to consumers that they’ll love their products, and skimp by with as little warranty as possible. For whatever reason, the American mattress market is a booming industry that has seen the like of Mattress Firm stores popping up on nearly every corner in the country. Recently however, the new age of mattress brands like Purple, Casper, Nectar Sleep, and Tuft & Needle have ascended from kitschy VC pastimes to downright threats to the larger industry players. Casper, for example, has recently announced their 2016 revenue peaked over 200 Million.
Consumer Demand & Technology
The Internet isn’t a blip on the map anymore and has integrated with every aspect of modern life. It has been officially deemed as essential as electricity and access to water and has changed to way we communicate forever. One of the many ways our many new communications technologies have impacted our business landscapes are in their ability to connect manufacturers and consumers. Manufacturers have historically had to work with distributors, wholesalers, sales teams, and sometimes ever resellers to get their products effectively marketed to consumers. This cuts into their profits, raises the price of the consumers price, and essentially creates a lot of wasted involvement throughout the entire process. Wasted—being that modern technology has alleviated the burden of such circuitous approaches. This new approach to business can be seen in the approach that many modern mattress brands have taken to engage with their buyers. This entire list of mattresses are sold from companies that offer direct consumer sales models with pricing far below retail averages for comparable quality. That’s to say, each of those products are cheaper than those you’d find in stores.
Guerrilla Marketing & Millennials
If there’s anything that can be said of the Millennial generation—they love them some quirky and entraining media. Mattress brands like Purple have found deep connection with viral marketing campaigns showcasing their products in clever and funny ways. Where many traditional companies simply slide around stock video, generic music, and the won’t-offend-anyone-but-won’t-impress-anyone-either type approaches—Purple showed their ability to double down on niche interest groups and demographics. These new approaches work to meet consumers where they are naturally and present content in native formats. For example, who in the f*ck ever looks at billboards anymore? No one. Yet the big-time brands like Serta, Sealy, and Sleep Number continue to drop millions of advertising dollars in these mediums each year. Brands like Saatva, Purple, Casper, and Nectar Sleep have shown their practical realization of consumers preferring Facebook ads, YouTube videos, and long form blog posts about nuances of the industry. In short, consumers enjoy reading a story about their brands and those willing to share in an honest, open, and often entertaining format have seen remarkable success.
It’s hard to say how these types of brand will continue to evolve the mattress industry, or other industries for that matter. What was like considered a fad has been recognized as a red-level threat to larger brands. Tomorrow Sleep, for example, is the recent brand launched with financial backing from mattress veteran Serta-Simmons—in a move that seems to acknowledge the permanence of the direct-to-consumer model within the mattress industry. Runaways like Casper will likely become fewer as more and more competitors enter the space but those with deep pockets will still likely be able to carve out a piece of the pie for quite some time.