The Value Proposition of Pillows

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With many consumers watching their spending, retailers can boost pillow sales by focusing on feature-filled offerings — and merchandising them the right way.

Pillow producers say that to sell better-quality pillows — and more of them — right now, your focus should be on value and giving consumers clear reasons to purchase offerings that can provide them a great night’s sleep. 

“For an inexpensive opening price point pillow, you’re going to get what you pay for. However, consumers are willing to pay more for a pillow that they perceive will add some type of value. This is why you’re seeing more emphasis on constructions, treatments and other ways to offer those value propositions,” says Ken Brown, vice president of sales for the consumer products division at Richmond, Virginia-based Carpenter Co. 

Not everyone, of course, can afford pillows at the highest end, which can cost $200 or more.

“Customers are still shopping at the high end, but many customers in the middle have dropped down to lower price points with changes in the economy,” says Jesse Gibbs, vice president of national sales for Malouf Home, a sleep products company with headquarters in Logan, Utah. “We’re working on opening price point options for price-sensitive consumers, with technologies to match price points and preferences.”

Offering feature-filled pillows that address an individual’s sleep needs can entice consumers of various income brackets to buy a new one — from those who are ready to splurge on an entire bed ensemble to those who may want to upgrade their mattress but can opt only for a new pillow right now.

Problem-solving pillows

Consumer-pleasing pillow features include hybrid constructions, temperature regulation, adjustability, unusual shapes, cutouts, organic and natural materials, aromatherapy and more.

Purecare has been packing its pillows with sleep-inducing features, says Sarah Bergman, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of product development for the Phoenix-based sleep accessories producer.

 The company has added “three unique constructions to help retailers further expand their success with CBD-related goods,” Bergman says. They include “a down-surround construction, an adjustable loft option (ideal for adjustable base customers) and a new concept meant specifically for side sleepers,” she explains. Each pillow features a cover treated with Suncliff’s premium CBD and retails for $220 in a queen size. A bottle of CBD spray is sold separately.

Phase-change materials and ventilating construction techniques offer the cooling experience that so many sleepers crave. They’ve become a staple of today’s pillows — more of a standard rather than a trend. It’s no surprise that so many best-selling pillows focus on cooling.

Purecare’s Shattered Ice pillow has “been exceptionally popular” since the company introduced it last summer, Bergman says. “It features a unique cooling cover treatment for an incredibly simple demo in stores,” she says, “and the $99 (queen-size) retail price point makes it a standard add-on for retail sales associates.”

Blu Sleep’s signature gel foam pillow, Ice Gel is 300 times more breathable than conventional memory foam, according to the company. “A Toyobo Japanese cotton, stretch, padded cooling cover leaves an instant refreshing feeling,” says Elizabeth Dell’Accio, president of Blu Sleep, a producer of a full line of sleep products based in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Many premium pillows are constructed with various types of foam or down, but Carpenter’s Brown says there’s still a market for polyester-filled products, too. Once sold exclusively by a single retailer, Carpenter’s top-selling flagship Indulgence pillows are now available to other dealers. Indulgence pillows are filled with a synthetic down and have a 500-thread-count, 100% cotton cover. “This is a value-add pillow assortment, so regular (retail) price points will be over $35,” he says.

New to you

The winter Las Vegas Market is typically a don’t-miss event with many sleep products manufacturers set to roll out their biggest launches of the year. Here’s a look at just a sample of the pillows that retailers were able to check out Jan. 28-Feb. 1.

FILL IS STILL A FAVORITE Some consumers prefer a 
polyester-filled pillow. Carpenter Co.’s Indulgence brand has a downlike feel and a 100% cotton cover.
FILL IS STILL A FAVORITE Some consumers prefer a polyester-filled pillow. Carpenter Co.’s Indulgence brand has a downlike feel and a 100% cotton cover.

“Meaningful sleep solutions”

Carpenter will introduce an assortment of “value-add” pillows and toppers under its relaunched flagship brand, Comfort Tech, Brown says. 

“The pillows within this assortment were developed to not only bring value but to offer meaningful sleep solutions that retailers and the end consumer are desperately looking for,” he says.  

The new Dual Comfort Foam pillow is part of Carpenter’s Comfort Tech line. One side incorporates the company’s bestselling Serene performance foam; the other side features its newer Tranquility foam. The pillow also includes an antimicrobial treatment and a temperature-regulating cover.

“The Serene foam side offers the perfect amount of comfort and support, due to the Supportive Air Technology. It’s like sleeping on air. The Tranquility foam side offers increased support with an active response,” Brown says. “So, the customer gets two distinctive options for comfort and support. This is important because comfort needs can vary, and giving consumers a choice — in this case, a customizable choice — is always the best value.” 

Consumers are willing to pay more for a pillow that they perceive will add some type of value.

Comfy and cozy

Last summer, Blu Sleep previewed its Comfy pillow “designed to provide sleepers with the utmost coziness and support.”

“This pillow is a game changer in the world of comfort products,” Dell’Accio says. “Our Comfy pillow is expertly engineered to respond to sleepers’ every touch and movement. Thanks to its unique foam composition, it effortlessly molds to sleepers’ bodies, offering support and cradling their head and neck in heavenly softness.”

Now with packaging, a production timeline and both price and minimum orders set, the pillow will launch in Las Vegas this winter. 

The dawn of a pillow

FOR A GOOD MORNING The Dawn House pillow includes CertiPUR-US-certified memory foam with airflow channels for ventilation and cooling.
FOR A GOOD MORNING The Dawn House pillow includes CertiPUR-US-certified memory foam with airflow channels for ventilation and cooling.

Also in Las Vegas, the Santa Barbara, California-based bedding brand Dawn House will highlight its Dawn House pillow, featuring CertiPUR-US-certified memory foam with bamboo and charcoal infusions. The plush, supportive foam controls both odor and moisture, with airflow channels providing ventilation, says the company, which is part of adjustable base specialist Ergomotion.

A weighty introduction

BEST OF BOTH The Shloof body pillow incorporates the features of a weighted blanket for soothing pressure and the rectangular shape aids spinal alignment.
BEST OF BOTH The Shloof body pillow incorporates the features of a weighted blanket for soothing pressure and the rectangular shape aids spinal alignment.

A merger of pillow and blanket, the Shloof pillow offers “the benefits of a weighted blanket’s deep pressure stimulation with the comfort and spine-aligning attributes of a body pillow,” according to the company, which will be showing in the home furnishings temporaries during the Las Vegas Market. The 10.8-pound pillow incorporates beads in the center. It’s available in a 52-inch by 20-inch version. The company says other sizes are in the works.

For tips on how to increase pillow sales in your store, see our new feature, “Maximize Pillow Sales: In-Store Strategies for Success.”