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David Perry

Consumer Reports gives industry several positive talking points

David Perry Executive editorDavid Perry Executive editor
Now that some of the excitement surrounding the latest mattress ratings by Consumer Reports has subsided, this is a good time to make a few additional points.
     I've heard criticisms about the project from various industry figures. Perhaps the most compelling point is that the ratings cover consumers' views from 2007 to June 2011, and thus don't consider the newer products that are on the market. That's a good point, especially for brands like Serta, Sealy and Stearns & Foster, which scored low on the ratings but have successful new lines. Still, four years' worth of consumer opinions are not easily dismissed.
     Despite the angst that the ratings generated in some bedding quarters, there are a couple of important takeaways for the industry. A key point is that all of the 11 mattress brands and 15 retailers rated are doing at least a pretty good job of satisfying consumers.
     The fine print with the ratings notes that a reader score of 80 means the consumers are "very satisfied," while a reader score of 60 means the readers are "fairly well satisfied."
     The lowest rated brand, Stearns & Foster, had a reader score of 68, while the lowest-rated retailer, Sleepy's, had a reader score of 72. Those ratings reflect overall satisfaction levels that are positive. Those are the baseline scores for the industry, and the scores rise from there. Let's not lose sight of those facts.
     Another point that we should all stress is that new beds of any brand are helping consumers get a better night of sleep. Consumer Reports says that about 75% of those who bought a new mattress reported that it helped them sleep better.
     That's a number that we need to shout from the rooftops; it's a number that we need to drive home in bedding ads and on sales floors.
     The fact is that a significant number of consumers begin shopping for a bed and then abandon that effort. We need to give all bedding consumers the basic good news that an overwhelming majority of consumers say their new bed is bringing them better sleep. This can help us sell more beds.
     Consumer Reports' research also yielded helpful information on what practices help produce a good night of sleep. Among those practices: Exercising during the day, unwinding for 30 minutes before bedtime, and going to bed and waking up at a set time. Again, that is information we need to be sharing with mattress shoppers.
     The bottom line: Consumer Reports has documented that leading mattress brands and retailers are providing positive levels of consumer satisfaction. It has also documented the power of a new bed, giving us that 75% affirmation score. And it shares best practices of good sleepers. Those are all good things for the bedding industry.

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