Strong market opens, but not everyone will win
David Perry -- Furniture Today, January 30, 2014
To loosely paraphrase Winston Churchill, we are now at the end of the beginning of this Las Vegas bedding market.
The run-up to this market,which unfolds here with a newSunday start, has been a verylong one on the bedding side ofthings. I made my first visit to seeLas Vegas introductions in October,and shifted into high gear inDecember with visits to most ofthe bedding majors. Along theway I enjoyed a nice Chicagosnowstorm, only to be strandedat O'Hare Airport the next nighton one of the coldest days of theyear, with wind chills below zero.Sometimes the travel gods getyou.
In the office, I've been buriedunder a veritable blizzard ofpress releases, more than 60 altogether,and counting. And all ofthat activity just brings me to thestart of the bedding market.
Actually, a lot of importantwork has already been accomplished.Some key retailers havealready seen the major newlines. Producers have researchedconsumer and market dynamics,staked out positions for their newlines, drawn up advertising budgets,and made aggressive plansfor the new year.
This is shaping up as thestrongest bedding market I'veever seen in Las Vegas. Competitionwill be fierce, with the topbrands jockeying for position,Tier Two players seeking anedge in a consolidating industry,and newcomers galore enteringthe Vegas scene.
Not everyone will be a winnerthis year. Furniture/Today'sConsensus Bedding Forecastenvisions low single-digit growthfor 2014. That probably won't beenough growth to give bedding'smajors the gains they seek, sothey will have to take someoneelse's share, or a share of theirshare, at least.
Bedding buyers will face avast array of product choices inLas Vegas this week.
Serta is introducing newiComfort and iSeries lines, followingup on those two hugelysuccessful product lines with aunified merchandising strategyand new technology. Sealy isbringing out new Stearns &Foster lines and a new Optimumspecialty sleep line, while Simmonsis introducing new highendBeautyrest Black models anda new ComforPedic iQ line tha tlooks like a smart introduction.(Pun intended.)
Looking at the rest of the Top10 bedding producers, Tempur-Pedic is promising exciting introductionsand King Koil is onceagain making an aggressiverollout of new lines at a broadrange of price points. Therapedichas a new gel-on-gel line that itis pinning high hopes on, as wellas other introductions. Englandercelebrates its 120th anniversarywith a number of anniversaryedition models, and Restonicoffers new specialty and innerspringmodels.
On the sleep accessory side,interest in adjustable beds isexploding. The new mattresslines are all tied to adjustable bedbases and step-up bases, givingconsumers more options and providingbigger tickets for retailers.Leggett & Platt's new Premierbases offer a number of high-tech features, as does Reverie'snew 8 Series.
As for market trends, hybridscontinue to gain traction, and theword "hybrid" itself is gainingsupporters, which is a good thing,I think. We don't have that manybedding words that consumerslike; hybrid is one.
I also see more interest at thehigh end of the market, with E.S.Kluft taking retails ever higher($60,000 this market), Kingsdownasserting a leadership position,and newcomer Scott & Duvalaiming to gain a foothold in theluxury bedding arena.
David Perry - Excutive Editor
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