Three retailers took the stage at the International Sleep Products Association’s Industry Conference to give their thoughts on the mattress industry, offer advice to manufacturers and suppliers on how to improve partnerships, and share experiences being on the front lines of bedding sales.
The biennial conference was held March 8-9 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Moderated by Mark Kinsley, staff vice president of marketing for the Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Inc. Bedding Group, the panel discussion, “Positioning the Mattress as THE Most Essential Sleep Product for Consumers,” included Spencer Ace, owner of Studio City, California-based Sweet Dreamzzz Mattress; Trent Ranburger, owner of Trent Bedding, headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Elana Stone-Anderson, vice president of marketing for BedMart Mattress Superstores, based in Portland, Oregon.
The conversation addressed myriad topics about today’s realities of retail, including:
- Setting yourself apart—Ace: “There’s a lot of foot traffic in front of our store, so we put dog biscuits and dog water bowls and bottled water out for people. People come in and thank us, and say they want to shop with us.” Ranburger: “I spent money to raise awareness about mattresses, and so when someone in Bowling Green is buying a mattress, they think Trent Bedding. The arrival of Mattress Firm has raised our local tickets. It has been great for our business.”
- Being your store’s spokesperson—Stone-Anderson: “It humanizes your brand. For five years now, I’ve been going into people’s homes and talking to them. My dad did all the marketing for our company for 18 years. Newspaper advertising mainly. We did focus groups and shifted to TV with me as spokesperson, and it has greatly increased market share. We didn’t have brand recognition. Now we do and are No. 1 or No. 2 in brand recognition for mattress retailers.”
- Maintaining relationships with manufacturers—Ranburger: “Better trained sales reps—we need those relationships. You need to build relationships from the top down and bottom up.” Ace: “I agree, and also we want exciting point-of-purchase. They are conversation starters. You want customers to say, ‘What is that?’ ”