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 reason 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!
Experience Has Taught Me Many Things
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 well-known brands including Tempurpedic, Sealy, Serta, and even Simmons. While working as an employee for Sleep Station here in St. Louis and also running my own business here in Arnold, MO, I witnessed the power branding. Branding is having a recognizable brand name that people are familiar with and trust that makes the buying process a more trustworthy one. Like most smart business owners at that time, I to jumped head first onto the brand name band wagon 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 compared to the others through truly unique feels, incomparable comfort and a support story that was different from all the others. 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 theirs.
The No Bullshit Reason Why I Do Not Sell Brand Name Mattresses
Loyalty – Money, money, money. Small stores like STL Beds typically have to pay for their floor models which seems fair until you see how it works with bigger, higher dollar retail stores. Brand names often wield their power by buying their way onto the showroom floors of big retailers. They do this by giving dealers expensive displays, point of purchase and marketing materials, even complete the retailers selection of floor models to be used for customer demonstration and selling. This is especially true when the mattress retail store commits their store to brand exclusivity. In addition, many brand name manufacturers up the ante by paying cold hard cash to the retailer for their brand’s placement and exclusivity within the company showrooms.
The Little Things
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 the big brand names, Campbell Mattress, that offered more for our business and customers while doing it for less. They were a small manufacturer, but they were responsive. 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 we did and it blew out of the back 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 after the way they fought us over the tiniest of smudges or marks that were found during simple warranty inspections. A replacement at no charge would have been a pipe dream.
There is extra expense associated with brand names. After all, someone ultimately pays for all that branding and brand name recognition. Do you know who? The consumer 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 mattress industry. Today, bank and investment group buyouts among them have created something so enormous, so big and powerful that mergers among the once 5 giant companies are simply 2 unmatchable Goliaths. This has created 2 huge corporations which not only control the industry but have no significant competition to stand and compete effectively against them.
Nearly total domination by two companies.
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 other giant. 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 used to be. Picking one up, a shopper should immediately notice the difference and should be concerned. Why? Because weight is a reliable factor to help determine mattress quality. Higher density foam holds less air while resisting compression and softening, and wears better overall. 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.
A brand name does not guarantee a quality product. However, what’s inside your bed does, and quality construction materials matter making this the best way to determine if you are getting a quality mattress
Two Sided Mattress are Obsolete
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 building design dramatically cuts costs for the big S Brands and increases profits for their shareholders.
High Warranty Claims
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.
The Name Game
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 while other parts remain identical allowing the retailer to avoid comparison shopping and price matching by claiming that theirs is different.
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. They were so out of touch with us they didn’t know or care that we no longer displayed their products. Of course, we shared our story of poor customer service and many opted to purchase a competing mattress that we offered.
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. The question now is, can you be bought?