In the October 8, 2014 issue of The New York Times, Home and Garden reporter, Steven Kuruntz, asked if buying a new mattress was easy. Without a moment of journalistic hesitation, he answered his question in the headline, “Dream On.” No one at Wingman Advertising held their breath for Kuruntz’ answer. After 21 years marketing mattresses, we empathize. In a recent case study for our client, mattress retailer Sit ‘n Sleep, we admitted that mattresses are, “the hardest considered purchase Wingman has ever sold.” And by “hard” we aren’t referring to the firmness of the Simmons Beautyrest Eleanor Luxury Firm (which, by the way, is quite pleasantly firm).

The Mattress Consideration Cycle: Caveat Emptor Researcher

The consideration cycle for a mattress begins when a consumer has realized their incumbent mattress is old and lumpy or when they’re experiencing an important life event like a move, divorce or death. Mildewing mattresses from the Reagan administration and nasty divorces are clear-cut entry points into the mattress sales cycle, but the next step in the cycle has proven murkier – the research and product vetting stage. This is where the mattress industry can get lost in the messaging woods. According to 
Kuruntz, to choose the right mattress shoppers “must go through a Kafkaesque maze.” Kuruntz continues, “Then there is the incomprehensible tech-speak: advanced pocketed coil technology; PrimaCool gel; viscoelastic memory foam. It’s as if mattress manufacturers are selling not what is basically a large stationary cushion but a spaceship.”

Vetting Mattresses: Neither Intuitive, Simple, Nor Quick

Although most consumers who reach the research stage of the consideration cycle will eventually purchase a mattress, confusing product features and indistinguishable brands act as unfortunate gatekeepers to consumer knowledge and retailer sales. In terms of brands, Kuruntz’ has a simple explanation of the landscape, “most major brand names inexplicably seem to begin with the letter ‘S’ (Simmons, Sealy, Serta and so on), creating a blurring sameness. Is Simmons a step up in quality from Serta? Does Stearns & Foster sell the Posturepedic, or is that Sealy?”

A Carefully Considered Purchase

As with any considered purchase, buying a mattress entails risk — financial and even health-wise. Customers ask themselves: What if we end up buying the wrong size? What if we overpay? What if my back hurts and I can’t replace it? With these questions weighing heavily on their minds, combined with the arduous task of sifting trough the industry’s menagerie of nebulous product specs, consumers are apt to take the path of least resistance. They walk into their nearest mattress store.

Kuruntz agrees with shoppers that finally break down and opt for a hands-on shopping experience. He suggests that consumers, “Focus less on the marketing and hardware and more on the ‘software…How does it feel to you?'”

Mattresses are the hardest considered purchase we’ve ever sold. To see how Wingman Advertising has managed to do it for over two decades, read our case study down below.

[READ WINGMAN CASE STUDY: Shortening the mattress consideration cycle with the concept of “Replace Every 8”]