Despite a sometimes sluggish 2016 and an especially tough third quarter, the bedding industry continues to entice consumers with everything from hybrid mattresses that combine innersprings and specialty foam to ultra-plush pillowtop models that dissipate body heat to keep sleepers cool.
Most executives believe the previous year was something of an aberration, caused by the lengthy, heated U.S. presidential election, uncertainty surrounding the combinations of some of the industry’s biggest brands, and temporary turmoil spurred by the consolidation of several large mattress specialty retailers.
But executives say they aren’t deterred, and they’re not holding back on the product introduction front at this month’s Las Vegas Market, when more than 100 showrooms will have new mattresses, foundations, adjustable bases, and a variety of sleep accessories on display.
“The bedding market is still being driven, to some extent, by the commodity (product) strategies of manufacturers and retailers, but if you can stay above that, business is still pretty good,” said Kevin Damewood, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Kingsdown.
The January market at Las Vegas has become the key bedding market of the year because that’s when producers launch the overwhelming majority of their new products. Unlike their colleagues in the case goods and upholstery categories, mattress producers don’t feel compelled to have product introductions four times a year – twice in High Point and twice in Las Vegas – and a number of manufacturers no longer have showrooms in High Point.
According to revised figures compiled by Impact Consulting Services, parent company of Home Furnishings Business, bedding shipments totaled $3.67 billion in the third quarter, a drop of 2.4% from the third quarter of 2015. That represented the first quarter-over-quarter decline since the Great Recession, and since fourth-quarter figures aren’t yet available, it’s not clear if the industry had a positive year.
For the first nine months of 2016, shipments were just 0.9% ahead of the same period in 2015, according to the research.
Kevin Toman, president of Englander, said he believes many of the industry’s second-tier brands (such as Englander) are performing better than the four largest brands because of the consolidation involving Simmons and Serta, who are under common ownership, as well as Sealy and Tempur-Pedic, both of whom are owned by Tempur-Sealy International.
In addition, he said consolidation at retail, which has been driven by acquisition-minded Mattress Firm, has negatively impacted the larger brands more than the second tier.
“The industry is in chaos right now … and I think the second-tier brands are gaining market share,” Toman said. “There’s a real opportunity for brands like us.”
Toman, Damewood and other executives say hybrid mattresses, which combine innersprings and specialty foams such as latex or memory foam, are still selling briskly, as is just about any mattress designed to keep sleepers cool through the use of gel-infused foam or specialty fibers that direct body heat away from the mattress surface.
However, Damewood said Kingsdown is having particular success with its proprietary Sleep To Live diagnostic system, which gives consumers a mattress recommendation after lying down on a diagnostic mattress that makes numerous calculations about pressure points around the body.
Consumers who make a purchase after using the diagnostic system typically spend $2,499 and up, he said, noting that the system now accounts for about 40% of the company’s sales.
A survey of recent mattress purchasers by Impact Consulting asked consumers, among other things, what type of mattress they bought. More than half (53.31%) said innerspring and another 35.67% said memory foam. Only 7.65% said latex foam and 3.36% purchased an air bed. No one admitted to buying a waterbed.
When asked what other mattress-related products they purchased, 54.5% said they bought a box spring or other non-moving base, and 51% said a mattress pad. Nearly 40% said they bought at least one pillow and 35.4% bought a bed frame, according to the survey.
The survey also said only 4.45% also purchased an adjustable base, a figure that surprised many industry executives, given the popularity of the product in recent years and the entry of numerous vendors in the category.
Specialty sleep products supplier Glideaway, for example, said sales of its Comfort Series Lifestyle Base have nearly tripled in the past two years as the company has brought out numerous new designs.
“Glideaway has become a significant player in the adjustable base business in a short amount of a time,” said Dan Baker, executive vice president of sales. “The options we continue to offer across our Comfort Base line are really resonating with consumers. We are excited about our upcoming additions to the line that we’ll unveil at the Winter Las Vegas Market.”
In addition to raising the head of the bed to an almost infinite number of sleeping positions, many adjustable bases have a wide range of other features such as charging stations, massage, pre-programmed settings and even Bluetooth speakers.
When asked where they made their mattress purchase, bedding specialty stores were the runaway winner at 43.2%. Traditional furniture stores were next at 24.55%, and no other format captured more than 10%.
Registering under 10% were mass merchants (8.95%), department stores (8.75%), the Internet (7.85%), and wholesale clubs (6.65%).
And while gel-infused foam is now offered in some mattresses by virtually every manufacturer, the survey showed most consumers didn’t know why it’s there. Less than half (46.75%) answered correctly and said it would make the bed cooler.
Another 26.8% said it would add more support, and 20.85% said it would make the bed softer. And 5.65% said it would make the bed warmer.
The survey also showed 24.555% paid $1,000 to $1,999 for their new mattress, the exact percentage that said they paid $600 to $999. Another 22.235% said they paid $300 to $599, and 13.29% said they paid $2,000 to $2,999. Only 8.9% paid $99 to $299, and 6.67% paid $3,000 or more.
Therapedic’s Medicoil HD 5000
The HD 5000 (HD for heavy-duty) is part of a four-model lineup designed for firmness and durability. In addition, it’s nearly totally resistant to body impressions, which addresses a common complaint among consumers buying a pillowtop mattress. Suggested retail is $1,799 in queen.
Tempur-Pedic’s Tempr Cloud Supreme
Designed to be soft on top, but with a supportive core, it features extra-plush top layers of the company’s proprietary memory foam that give it a pillowy feel without a traditional pillowtop design. The core includes additional layers of its proprietary foam that adapt to the sleeper’s weight and shape. Suggested retail is $2,499 in queen.
Sealy’s Posturepedic Premier Hybrid
This best-seller features a mattress that’s half foam, half springs. Memory foam is on the top layers for body-conforming comfort, while specially engineered springs underneath the foam deliver full body support. Suggested retail is $1,399 in queen.
Simmons Beautyrest Black Katarina
This plush pillowtop model put the focus on keeping the sleeper not only comfortable, but cool. Features include a fiber that dissipates heat away from the sleeping surface, a memory foam infused with diamond particles, and a second type of memory foam that relieves pressure points for freedom of movement. Suggested retail is $2,599
Restonic’s ComfortCare Hybrid Signature
Featuring two types of memory foam in the top cushioning layers, this mattress is designed to absorb, store and release heat as needed to keep the sleeper cool and comfortable. The foam layers sit above Restonic’s signature Marvelous Middle innerspring design, which utilizes individually wrapped and zoned coils to minimize motion transfer.
Pleasant Mattress’ Maxx Response Luxury Plus Hybrid
This model features a proprietary 3Mesh ventilation system, Serene foam and Leggett & Platt’s Samson wrapped coil innerspring unit. The company describes it as a “stunning lifestyle product with a tremendous comfort experience.” Suggested retail is $1,999 in queen.
Organic Mattress Inc.’s Duo
The Duo has been a winner for OMI for more than eight years because it allows each sleeper to customize the feel of the mattress. The premium model features three layers of GOLS-certified organic natural rubber that are individually encased in GOTS-certified organic cotton sleeves. Each layer is labeled with their firmness to allow for easy adjustment for comfort and pressure-point relief. Suggested retail is $6,545 in queen.
Kingsdown’s Crown Marquis
From the Crown Imperial collection of hybrid mattresses, this model features multi-level coil construction with layers of micro-coils and a layer of tri-zone wrapped coils to reduce motion. The springs are topped with gel-infused memory foam to keep the sleeper cool. The ticking is a blend of silk and wool for a luxurious hand. Retail price points for Crown Imperial models range from $1,999 to $3,999 in queen.
Classic Brands’ Cool Gel
At 10.5 inches high, the Cool Gel mattress offers a compelling combination of pressure relief support and thermal temperature regulation through gel-infused foam at a promotional price point. Suggested retail is $399.
E.S. Kluft’s Aireloom Sidestich
Part of the Aireloom Karpen Collection, Sidestitch mattresses are constructed with more than 45 pounds of natural cotton, feature more than 560 heritage side stitches and the company’s proprietary designed coils that curve heavy gauge metal into delicate inner springs for reactive support to deliver premium, all-night rest.
Boyd Specialty Sleep’s Broyhill Memory Foam
Made under a licensing agreement with Broyhill parent Heritage Home Group, this 8-inch memory foam mattress sits on a fabric-covered adjustable base with a remote control.
Spring Air’s Grand Award
The company’s flagship Back Supporter line includes this Grand Award model, which features a European waterfall design and retails for $999 to $1,499 in queen.