BSC Study Reveals Shoppers’ Interest in Mattress Sustainability

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Younger consumers are more likely to consider sustainability issues when purchasing a mattress.

Woman sleeping on a mattress in the jungle.

New consumer research conducted by the Better Sleep Council reveals that high ethical standards and recyclability are the sustainability features and practices of greatest importance to consumers when purchasing a mattress.

More than half of consumers (53%) say it is very important when they purchase a mattress that the manufacturer maintains high ethical standards, while 45% of consumers say it is very important that the mattress they purchase is recyclable at the end of its useful life, and 43% say it is very important that the mattress manufacturer uses environmentally sustainable practices or materials.

The research also reveals that younger consumers are more likely to consider sustainability issues when purchasing a mattress than their older counterparts.

“This is the BSC’s first detailed research on sustainability issues, and it includes mattress-specific information on purchase considerations that should be of great interest to industry leaders,” says Ryan Trainer, president of the International Sleep Products Association. The BSC is the consumer education arm of ISPA. “The research provides a roadmap for bedding executives to tap into consumers’ significant and growing interest in mattress sustainability.”

The survey of more than 1,000 consumers in a national sample found that 41% say it is very important that mattress packaging materials are recyclable, while 39% say it is very important that the mattress manufacturer has made public commitments to minimize its environmental impact, and 38% say it is very important that the mattress has one or more environmental certifications.

Thirty-five percent of consumers say it is very important that the mattress uses organic or natural materials, while 28% of consumers say it is very important that the mattress is made from recycled content, and 28% say it is very important that the mattress is produced locally.

By the generations

Gen Z and millennial consumers are more likely than Gen X consumers and baby boomers to consider a range of sustainability features and practices to be important when purchasing a mattress, the survey says.

For example, 53% of Gen Z consumers and 54% of millennials, the two youngest groups of consumers, say it is very important that the mattress they are considering for purchase is recyclable at the end of its useful life. That figure falls to 43% for Gen X consumers and stands at 36% for boomers, the two oldest groups of consumers surveyed.

And while 61% of Gen Z consumers and 59% of millennials say it is very important that the mattress manufacturer maintains high ethical standards, 53% of Gen X consumers and 46% of boomers hold that view.

Adult Gen Z consumers are ages 18-24, while millennials are ages 25-40, Gen X consumers are ages 41-55, and boomers are ages 56-76.

“These age breakdowns reveal that while sustainability issues enjoy significant consumer support overall, the levels of support are highest for younger consumers,” Trainer notes. “This is invaluable information to advance the communication strategies of the bedding industry.”

Understanding sustainability

Overall, nine in 10 U.S. adults are aware of the term “sustainability,” including four in 10 who say they are extremely or very familiar with the term, the study reveals.

Younger consumers are more familiar with sustainability than older consumers. 

Gen Z consumers and millennials are twice as likely or more to be highly familiar with sustainability than boomers, the oldest group of consumers surveyed.

Sustainability refers to the practice of avoiding the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

Fifty percent of Gen Z consumers said they are highly familiar with sustainability, while the figure is even higher — 52% — for millennials. For Gen X consumers that figure falls to 41%. And it is lowest, at 25%, for boomers.

Environmental attitudes

The survey finds that attitudes related to concern about the environment and personal and corporate responsibility for caring for the environment resonate more with younger consumers than older consumers.

For example, 72% of Gen Z consumers say they are concerned about the planet they are leaving behind for future generations, while 50% of boomers have that same concern.

And 74% of Gen Z consumers say they believe that companies have a responsibility to take care of the environment, while 61% of Gen X consumers and 62% of boomers share that belief.

More than half of Gen Z consumers — 53% — say they encourage others to be more environmentally friendly, the same percentage for millennials. But just 41% of Gen X consumers share that view, while the figure falls to 32% for boomers.

The figures are similar in response to a question about personal responsibility, with 52% of Gen Z consumers saying they feel a personal responsibility for taking care of the environment, compared with 54% of millennials who have that view, 47% of Gen X consumers who have that view and 36% of boomers. 

“This age group analysis indicates that sustainability will be an important issue in the industry for many years to come, as younger consumers are leading the way with their support for sustainability initiatives,” Trainer says.

The survey reveals that consumers have favorable attitudes toward manufacturers that practice sustainability. Nearly half of the consumers say it is highly important that they purchase products from a company that uses environmentally sustainable practices.

Boomers are less likely than younger generations to consider the use of environmentally sustainable practices or materials as highly important when they purchase products, the survey says. Just 36% of boomers hold that view, while the figure rises to 47% for Gen X consumers, 57% for millennials and 59% for Gen Z.

This was an online survey conducted in September 2022 with a national sample of 1,005 respondents. The respondents were U.S. adults 18 or older who participate in the research, selection and mattress purchase, with sole or shared involvement and responsibility. The
respondents were about evenly
divided between men and women.

The BSC has conducted consumer research on mattresses and sleep issues for decades. 

Since 1996, the BSC has done research to understand and track changes in consumer attitudes toward sleep and health, and in their mattress purchase
decision-making process.