Saturday, July 15, 2023

Selling Sleep


Picture credit: Elizabeth Lies on Unsplash

Mattress makers may be giving themselves reasons to lose sleep with their marketing.

They say a clear conscience guarantees sound sleep. I’ve seen laborers sleeping soundly on a piece of cloth spread across rocky surfaces after a day’s work in the hot sun. I have seen perfectly healthy people toss and turn on the plushest of mattresses. Sleep is complicated. Mattresses need not be.

Mattresses are getting commoditized, thus giving rise to brand marketing. Ever since mattresses started becoming brands, there seems to be a struggle for differentiation.

Mattress marketing is getting increasingly complex in its messaging. Some mattress brands emphasize how a mattress conforms to the contours of the human body on it. Some use the imagery of the spine and the risks to health from bad sleeping postures. Some brands sell shopping and shipping conveniences. Other brands highlight their product’s construction similar to how automobile tire companies try to sell their products based on superior technology and cross-sectional pictures. Mattress brands also wade into couples therapy territory with a tailored feel to each half of a mattress.

The more complex the messaging, the harder it becomes for a buyer to be surefooted about a mattress.

In other words, the more marketing dollars used to promote mattresses, the more complex the messaging gets, and the more difficult it will become for mattress companies to sell. The last thing that the greatest mattress companies want to deal with is the analysis paralysis of confused consumers.

From a consumer's point of view, some introspection might help mattress makers position themselves for a higher trajectory in marketing. Some questions might help.

Can a mattress manufacturer follow the model of Gilette’s razor blades? Innovate on the mattress toppers and accessories, something that can be changed out every few years with more innovative versions.

Can the mattress manufacturer reposition itself as a productivity tool? After all, a good night’s sleep is not the end but the means to an end; a good night’s sleep ensures a more productive day and a better quality of life.

Could home builders add mattresses and furniture to their offering because, after all, a mattress needs a bed, which in turn needs a room?

Can a mattress company create complementary product lines for incremental uses, from dorm rooms to sleeping under the stars, much like apparel brands that allow for mix and match combinations and accessories?

Can a mattress brand be positioned as a wellness product or a medical product?

Can a mattress manufacturer become a sleep-and-sensory-experiential offering instead of a one-off product sale?

Would it help a mattress manufacturer to strip away all the marketing noise about its value proposition and instead focus on stories of sleep deprivation? In sleep deprived cultures, would such messaging bring greater clarity about the need for the product and create brand gratitude?

Addressing these questions while crafting a marketing strategy might help mattress makers think bigger. After all, they are selling something precious and priceless – sound sleep.