Research Brings King-Size Good News

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Consumer shift to larger mattresses would bring more comfort to consumers and more dollars to retailers

There could be a king-size installment of good news in a big round of consumer research conducted for the Better Sleep Council, the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association. The summary: More consumers are planning to buy king-size mattresses. That means more sales dollars for bedding retailers. Oh, and it means more comfort for consumers, too. That’s the classic win-win.

The BSC research we have written about in Sleep Savvy this year provides a wealth of actionable insights for retailers. A consumer shift to more king-size beds is another insight retailers should capitalize on.

First, some basic math

The BSC survey found that 35% of consumers sleep on either a king-size mattress (26%) or a California king (9%). But, spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers now are more likely to plan to buy a king or California king for their next mattress, with 41% expressing that view. Growth of six percentage points in the king market would be a significant boost to the industry.

The percentage of consumers currently sleeping on a queen mattress (46%) is the same as the percentage of consumers who plan to buy a queen, so there would be no changes in that key market.

Now, let’s add some retail math

The consumers surveyed said they would be willing to pay a mean of $1,329 for a king-size set — $304 more than the mean of $1,025 they would be willing to pay for a queen-size set. And I don’t need to tell any retailer how nice it would be to add $304 to a great many sales tickets.

How do you seize this king-size opportunity? Make kings the star on your retail floors. Talk about the additional comfort king-size mattresses offer. Ask consumers if they sleep with pets, and explain that king-size beds are more accommodating for people and dogs and cats. Promote king-size prices in your ads. Yes, queen prices are the norm, but there is a well-known saying in retail: You sell what you show.

How consumers want to shop

As we wrap up our reporting and analysis on this major round of BSC consumer research, we want to leave you with two key thoughts: Interest in online mattress buying is on the upswing, but consumers continue to say it is important to try a mattress before buying.

Those are not necessarily contradictory points. Smart retailers now carry some of the leading online mattress brands in their stores. Consumers can start the shopping process online, looking at the sophisticated websites many brands offer, and they can narrow their choices. Then they can visit their local mattress retailer and rest-test those mattresses.

The BSC research notes, significantly, that consumers’ views on trying mattresses vary by age. Only half of consumers ages 18-35 say it is very important to try a mattress, compared with 72% of consumers 56 and older. Getting those younger consumers into stores will be a challenge — just 24% of those consumers say they go to stores to look around, compared with 49% of consumers 56 and older.

Those younger consumers rely on internet search engines and YouTube as much or more as they browse stores, so retailers should lean into search engines and YouTube to catch their attention.

Here’s to a good holiday season

Finally, in this last issue of the year for Sleep Savvy, I want to end with a note of thanks to the BSC for its commitment to consumer research. As many of you know, I’m a student of the industry and its numbers, and the BSC studies have given me a rich harvest of data to analyze.

Best wishes to you and your team this holiday season. May you continue to find insights in Sleep Savvy that boost your business.