“Inside the Mind of Today’s Mattress Shopper” – Borreggine Talks Mattress Replacement Cycle

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Therapedic CEO Gerry Borreggine says a shorter replacement cycle benefits consumers and the industry alike and weighs in on the firmer-softer mattress divide.

Transcript

Dave Perry
Hey, Dave Perry, welcome to “Inside the Mind of the Mattress Shopper”. I am with Gerry Borreggine, who’s been inside the mind of the mattress shopper for years as a retailer and as a longtime supporter of the Better Sleep Council. Gerry macro view, what’s BSC research show about a critical issue, and that is replacement time.

Gerry Borreggine
When the Better Sleep Council started the research in 1996, the measurement was the replacement cycle was 11.2 years. The most recent round of research that was just completed last year has the replacement cycle under ten. So that’s considerable movement. Granted, it’s 25 years, but still, it’s going in the right direction.

Dave Perry
So what’s good about a shorter replacement time?

Gerry Borreggine
Hey, look, it’s greater. First of all, it’s better for the sleeper. It’s healthier for the sleeper from a hygienic standpoint primarily, and then from a support and comfort standpoint, secondary. But it’s also good for our industry because a more frequent replacement cycle means more mattress sales.

Dave Perry
Isn’t it true also that even as the cycle comes down, it probably should be way lower because so many people have really old mattresses? Do you find that when you would replace mattresses, you’d be shocked at how old some of those beds were?

Gerry Borreggine
Oddly enough, as my recollection as the retailer was, the better-grade mattress got replaced at a much more frequent rate than did the lower-grade mattress, and that’s possible because of the expectation of that buyer. That buyer was a better buyer with higher expectations and certainly more critical of what they want in their home.

Dave Perry
Okay. Another thing I’d like to get your thoughts on is the softer, firmer continuum. Interestingly, the latest BSC research found it’s a 51/49 split. 51 favor firm, 49 soft and soft has gained seven points of market share in four years. So what’s going on with this?

Gerry Borreggine
Well, it’s interesting because when we did the research when we started in 1996, we did not do it in a demographic breakout. So now you guys are doing it in generations. Age groups and the younger age groups are definitely trending toward more plush or soft and the older toward harder. And part of that might be because generationally that segment, the boomers, were being served the message that doesn’t sleep on a too soft mattress to have good back health.

So that was the market leader promulgating that message. It went on and on and on for 20, 20-plus years. And all the other brands like us were copycats and we mirrored that same messaging. So we perpetrated this hard mattress on that generation through our own marketing and advertising.

Dave Perry
Well, what did you say? The best mattress is the best mattress for you. And not just to say firmer or softer is better. It’s just not that simple.

Gerry Borreggine
It isn’t that simple. But if I were to say what’s more healthy, I would say a more yielding, a softer or plusher bed reduces pressure points, causing less tossing and turning on the sleeper. I think that’s better for you.

Dave Perry
Why the younger consumers favor softer beds?

Gerry Borreggine
I think it’s part of the just the process. It’s more comfortable and they weren’t served that message of firmness was good. So they go in and they look at, you know, it’s a black and white and they have a preference. And there’s no doubt that that softer or plusher, it’s a term that we weren’t even allowed to use as marketers.

It was considered a no-no to say the word soft because it had a negative connotation to it. But there’s no doubt that the softer or plusher mattresses are going to continue to grow at a higher rate than the firmer ones.

Dave Perry
Well, the way the trend shows softer is probably already the preferred sleep service.

Gerry Borreggine
Because it’s more comfortable.

Dave Perry
How does the industry kind of promote softer? If there was a big promotion of firmer is better, is there an equivalent? Softer is better message?

Gerry Borreggine
I think the message is comfort.

Dave Perry
Isn’t that a great word?

Gerry Borreggine
That’s the word. That’s because that’s the truth. You want to be comfortable to get a good night’s sleep; you need to be comfortable. A more yielding sleep surface provides more comfort than an unyielding or stiff sleep surface.

Dave Perry
Well, I am comfortable saying. I appreciate your insights. Always great being with you. You take care.

Gerry Borreggine
Do you still do it this way?

Dave Perry
It’s like this…its harder than it looks.

Gerry Borreggine
That’s how you do it.

Dave Perry
All right. Thanks, my man.