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I was recently called out by one of our readers concerning a comment I made on my website stating: “You won’t find the brand names here – just call and ask us why!” The gentlemen went on to make some critically valid points and asked, “Instead of making people call you so you can ask those questions and force them to listen to a sales pitch, why not just put the reasons out on your web page? Why don’t you have them, is it because your beds are better than the big name brands?”
Great questions Richard! I guess when I wrote that… I was in an old school mindset. So here you go, no sales pitch, no BS. Enjoy!
Since first selling mattress and box spring sets in 1993, my business and business strategies have radically changed. I have been fortunate to have sold the most common well-known brands including Tempurpedic, Sealy, Serta, and even Simmons. While working as an employee for Sleep Station located in St. Louis MO and also running my own business here in Arnold, MO, I witnessed the power of branding. Branding is having a recognizable brand name that people are familiar with and trust. For these people it makes the buying process a more trustworthy process. Like most smart business owners at that time, I to jumped head first onto the brand name band wagon. I wanted to claim my share of the mattress marketing gold.
I chose the trademarked brands Simmons and Tempurpedic, as I felt they had the most to offer. When you compared these brands to the others side by side they truly had the most unique feels, incomparable comfort and not to mention a support story that was incredibly different from all their competitors. Long story short, the business marriage of STL Beds and Simmons /Tempurpedic ended in divorce, and below are a few of the reasons for disassociating our company with with the big brand names.
Loyalty – Money, money, money. Small stores like STL Beds typically have to pay for their display floor models, which seems fair until you see how it works with bigger, higher dollar retailers. Brand names often wield their power, money and influence by buying their way onto the showroom floors of mattress chains and big retailers. They do this by giving dealers expensive showroom displays, point of purchase and marketing materials, even complete the retailers selection of floor demonstration models to be used by customers to test rest. This is especially true when the mattress retail store commits their store to brand exclusivity. Additionally, many brand name manufacturers up the ante by paying cold hard cash to the retailer for their brand’s placement. Some go so far to commit to brand exclusivity meaning that one brand owns the entire company’s showroom floor space ultimately removing competition that can drive up prices to the consumer.
When we conducted business with Simmons, we fought them over every problem and for every penny. Unfortunately, at that time our little company wielded very little power or cash to leverage such deals. Instead, we utilized a small mattress competitor of theirs, Campbell Mattress. They were the David who helped us take on Goliath. They were very much interested in our showroom space, but also were attracted to the customer service and reputation that had built our small business into something special. As a result both STL Beds and our customers would receive more bang for our hard earned buck. Campbell was a small mattress manufacturer and they were very responsive giving my customers more bed for less money. One example of their mom and pop service came when I had forgotten to tie a mattress set into a pickup truck for a local delivery and it the mattress blew out of the back of the vehicle and was badly damaged. I merely mentioned the story to my sales representative and, without hesitation, she insisted on sending us a replacement at no charge. I couldn’t imagine Simmons doing that. As a matter of fact, I am sure that they wouldn’t of been so generous after the way they fought us over the little things, like a tiny mark or smudge that were sometimes found during simple warranty inspections. They sighted the warranty card and said it wasn’t covered due to the mark/ smudge even though the real problem(s) ( body impressions, learners, etc. ) were obviously covered by warranty. A replacement at no charge from Simmons would have been a pipe dream. The very same issues are common with other brand names, simply search the Internet for yourself. It won’t take long to realize this is an industry wide issue.
There is extra expense associated with brand names. After all, someone ultimately pays for all that advertising and constant branding that leads to name recognition. Have any guesses who pays for that? Well the consumer does of course.
Over the last 20 plus years, companies like Sealy, Stearns & Foster, Serta, Simmons, and Tempurpedic were independent giants competing against one another within the huge category that is the mattress industry. Today, bank and investment group buyouts withing the giant category have created something most of us could not of imagined. What was once 5 individual manufacturers have merged into 2 enormous, uncontested industry Goliaths. These 2 huge mattress corporations are so big and so powerful that they not only control the industry, but have no significant competition to speak of much less be able to stand and effectively compete.
The first is TempurPedic and Sealy which are estimated to control 65 percent of the U.S. mattress market as of 2011. Serta and Simmons are the others. Simmons ranked in third place among U.S. mattress manufacturers and is said to own around 15 percent market share according to Furniture Today and Wikipedia. Serta, Simmon’s sister company, also claimed a 15.7 percent share and over 30% when combined with Serta. When these two Goliaths are viewed in their totality, it has become very concerning. Questions have been raised by the F.T.C. and others whether their business structure is anti-competitive.
Mattresses are not built like they were in the past. Simply pick one up and you should immediately notice the difference and more importantly you should be concerned. Why? Because weight is a reliable factor to help determine mattress quality.There is NO carbon fiber in mattresses LOL. Better quality high density foam holds less air. This kind of foam staves off an unwanted situation like softening, permanent compression and sagging. The end result is better to overall wear. Another fact is that while coil counts in mattresses may be increasing (a marketing gimmick), the actual amount of steel used to build the bed has decreased. I will say it again. (Decreased)
A brand name while recognizable does NOT guarantee buyers a higher quality product. More importantly, the building ingredients that goes inside your bed does. We only use quality construction materials, comparing these materials is the best way to determine if you are truly getting a quality mattress not comparing brands.
An industry trend started to take place in 2000 when Simmons led the way of building their mattresses in a one sided fashion. 1-sided mattresses cannot be flipped, and many believe that the trend of thicker fluffy mattress that can’t be turned over is “the” primary reason for shortened mattress life and body impressions. It is also believed that shifting to a one sided construction design dramatically cuts costs for the big S Brands and increases profits for their shareholders.
Simply conduct a Google search for “Warranty Problems with (Insert Brand Name Here).” Also research websites like: The Mattress Underground, What’s The Best Mattress, and Sleep Like The Dead, and Consumer Reports. Were not even going to waste our time writing on this topic due to the amount of available information of the topic.
Possibly the most frustrating issue for consumers when shopping for a new mattress is the ability to find the same mattress with the same name at a competing store. We wrote an article on this topic explaining how comparable products made by the mattress builder are designed with different names, colors, and fabrics. The other parts remain identical allowing the retailer to avoid unprofitable comparison shopping and price matching. This allows the retailer to by claim theirs is different and uniquely theirs.
Just a quick story about Tempurpedic will sum up our experience with this company. After setting up several sales training meetings only to have no-shows and no cancellation calls, we managed to learn as much as we could. Ultimately frustrated with them, we dropped the mattress line. For over two years they continued to refer to us as an Authorized Tempurpedic Dealer frequently sending customers to us to see their beds. They were so out of touch with us they didn’t know or seem to care that STL Beds no longer displayed Tempur products. Of course, we shared our story with customers who unknowingly visited us thanks to Tempurpedic and told them the stories of poor customer service. Ironically it wasn’t a hard sell since they had just lived a dead end Tempurpedic dealer referral to a store that did not carry them anymore. Thank you Tempur Pedic!
Founded in 1987, Select Comfort spent $101 million on measured media in 2004. The budgets and their competitors budgets are a nightmare. Money talks, but it doesn’t talk to me or my company and we are not being bought by said dollars. The question now is, can you be bought?