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What Consumers Want to Know

When researching mattresses, shoppers look at price, promotions and reviews, according to survey

Most consumers do research before they purchase a mattress — and that research is likely to include price comparisons. They also check promotions or sales, and read consumer reviews.

Those are the three top sources of information consumers seek when they want to buy a mattress, according to broad consumer research conducted in 2020 for the Better Sleep Council, the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association.

The nationally projectible survey found that most consumers (77%) say they conduct research before purchasing a mattress. A majority of consumers (55%) seek to compare prices, while another 45% look at promotions or sales, and 44% read consumer reviews.

Survey respondents also say they want to compare product features (38%), seek information about mattress features (36%), research different types of mattresses (32%), and want details about mattress brands (31%). They also want to know store locations (24%) and seek a website where they can shop (21%).

Perhaps surprisingly, friend and family recommendations are low on their research list, cited by just 18% of consumers. That is just ahead of information on the health benefits of sleeping on a good mattress, something only 16% of consumers want to research.

Mary Helen Rogers, vice president of communications and marketing for ISPA, says the survey illustrates that mattress research is a multifaceted process for many consumers.

“This BSC study reveals that consumers are searching for information from a variety of sources and are seeking information on everything from prices to product features to brands,” Rogers says. “It is interesting that consumer reviews are highly valued by a significant number of consumers, while recommendations from friends and family members are used much less frequently. And many consumers want to compare mattress prices, which is not always easy for consumers to do.”

Trying before buying is important

Brick-and-mortar research is critical, the survey found, with nine out of 10 respondents saying it is important to feel and try a mattress before making a purchase. That is very important to 60% of consumers and somewhat important to 28% of consumers. Only 8% of consumers say it’s not important to feel and try a mattress before buying.

When they are doing brick-and-mortar shopping, a majority of the consumers (57%) expect to visit two or three stores.

But the research found that younger consumers are much less likely than older consumers to say it is very important to feel and try a mattress. While only 50% of consumers ages 18-35 say it is very important,  72% of consumers 56 and older want to feel and try a mattress first.

Consumers of different ages also use different sources to research mattresses. Internet search engines are the top information source for consumers ages 18-35 and ages 36-55, but they rank second on the list of information sources used by consumers 56 and older. Older consumers (49%) prefer to visit stores and look around.


* The top three information sources for consumers ages 18-35 are internet search engines (31%), YouTube (24%), and going to stores and looking around (24%).

* For consumers ages 36-55, the top three sources are search engines (33%), visiting stores (33%), and retailers’ websites (27%).

* While almost half of consumers 56 and older like visiting stores (49%) and using search engines (38%) to research mattresses, their No. 3 source of information, cited by 28% of respondents, is Consumer Reports’ website or print magazines. (Consumer Reports ranks No. 5 on the list of information sources used by consumers ages 36-55 and is not among the top 10 information sources used by consumers ages 18-35.)

Overall, consumers say they are as likely to use online search engines as they are to visit stores when they research mattresses. And they don’t need long to make up their minds. A majority of consumers (63%) say they take less than two weeks to decide which mattress to buy.

Retail Playbook: Bigger Sizes and Sets Increase Sales Tickets

Consumer research from the Better Sleep Council gives valuable insights into consumers’ attitudes about mattress sizes, buying sets vs. buying a mattress only, and other shopping behaviors. Savvy retailers can use the information to build their businesses. Here are five strategies for success:

1. Tout queen and king sizes

Insight: Almost nine out of 10 consumers plan to buy a king or California king (41%) or queen mattress (46%).

Application: Consumers have been more likely during the Covid-19 pandemic to plan to buy king-size mattresses, and that trend offers a big selling opportunity for retailers. With most consumers now looking for larger mattress sizes, retailers should focus on displaying those sizes on their sales floors. Why show lots of twin mattresses, when only 4% of consumers are looking for those sizes for themselves?

2. Sell the set

Insight: Consumers say they are willing to pay a mean of $1,329 for a king-size sleep set, $208 more than they are willing to pay for a king mattress alone. And they are willing to pay a mean of $1,025 for a queen-size sleep set, $128 more than they are willing to pay for a queen mattress by itself.

Application: While mattress-only pricing is common in many retail ads, the fact remains that more than half of consumers are planning to buy a sleep set. And those sets offer significantly higher sales tickets, a major consideration for retailers at a time when store traffic remains unpredictable. So, talk to shoppers about how a foundation and mattress work together to provide a great night’s sleep over the long term and promote sets in your marketing efforts.

3. Look at $1,000-plus tickets

Insight: Consumers say they are willing to pay a mean of $1,052 for a new mattress for themselves.

Application: Yes, there are many low-priced mattresses on the market these days, but it’s encouraging that consumers go into the mattress shopping process with $1,000-plus thoughts on how much they would be willing to pay. Don’t be afraid to show consumers higher-priced models.

4. Bring up an “uncomfortable” subject

Insight: Almost half of consumers (47%) say that an uncomfortable mattress influences their decision to purchase a new mattress.

Application: Don’t hesitate to talk about uncomfortable mattresses, which are a major replacement trigger. A good way to approach the subject is to ask consumers if they are getting better sleep when they stay at a hotel or visit a relative than they are on their mattress at home. That’s a sign the home mattress is past its prime.

5. Keep the advertising steady

Insight: The majority of consumers (63%) make up their minds about purchasing a mattress within two weeks of starting the shopping process, and almost one-quarter of consumers (23%) make up their minds in a few days to a week.

Application: This relatively short research cycle means two things for retailers. One, consumers are quickly moving through the mattress purchase process. Two, you need to promote your stores and e-commerce sites on a regular basis to reach consumers as soon as they begin to research products and start shopping.

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