Assessing the Covid-19 Marketplace


As consumers focus on their sleep, retailers have an opportunity to boost sales of king-size mattresses and sleep accessories

The bedding industry has experienced a Covid-19 bounce, with sales surging as consumers hunker down at home and focus on making themselves more comfortable in their nests. 

This is an opportunity for mattress retailers to sell more mattresses, especially king-size models, and to sell a range of sleep accessories, as research conducted by the Better Sleep Council clearly demonstrates. More on those opportunities later in this column.

In this issue, I dig into two critical issues facing the industry these days: The value of better sleep and the impact that the pandemic is having on consumers’ attitudes and behavior. Those issues are intertwined.

It’s axiomatic that sleep is one of the three legs of the health stool. The other legs, of course, are diet and exercise. But the latest round of comprehensive research conducted for the BSC, the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, demonstrates, perhaps surprisingly, that the three legs of that stool are not equal.

The BSC research found that 79% of consumers say sleep is the most important factor for their health and well-being. A healthy diet is No. 4 on that list, cited by 64% of consumers, while physical exercise is No. 5, cited by 62% of consumers.

It is interesting that sleep ranks even higher than regular medical checkups, cited by 69% of consumers, and stress management, cited by 65% of consumers.

The primacy of sleep to health provides an enormous benefit to the bedding industry, which literally makes the key products — mattresses and sleep accessories — that are critical to a good night’s sleep.

As the BSC research illustrates, consumers are giving sleep its due in their health regimens. And yet, we continue to see retail ads full of overly aggressive prices, while better sleep messages are relegated to the small print, if they appear at all.

The pandemic gives us a chance to change this dynamic.

An important BSC research finding notes that consumers under stay-at-home orders are nearly four times more likely than others to say they are getting more than enough sleep. That indicates those consumers understand that getting more sleep is a key way they can take personal responsibility to fight the pandemic.

In this climate, consumers should be especially receptive to better sleep messages, which is why retailers must make those messages a regular part of their advertising campaigns. 

The Covid-19 climate offers specific opportunities for mattress retailers. One is in the up-sizing arena. Consumers under quarantine or stay-at-home orders are far more likely than others to plan to buy a king-size mattress. That is not surprising; a larger mattress offers more comfort for sleepers. Retailers would benefit from sharing that messaging in their ads.

Similarly, the pandemic brings opportunities for sleep accessory sales.

It’s significant that consumers under quarantine or stay-at-home orders are more likely to purchase all types of sleep accessories — from pillows, sheets, mattress pads and mattress protectors to comforters, mattress toppers, bed covers and even decorative pillows, according to the BSC research.

As I note in the Retail Playbook that accompanies my stories in this issue on the BSC research (see page 21), the findings lay out clear paths to success for mattress retailers: Talk about better sleep, bigger beds and sleep accessories. 

There’s an interesting debate in the industry about how long the Covid-19 bounce might benefit the bedding industry. A return to more normal times, some say, could take the focus off the home that has been bolstering the home furnishings industry.

But consumers clearly understand the importance of sleep, and sleep does not go out of fashion. It
is always a winning move for mattress retailers to tout better sleep messages.