Occasional-use beds growing in popularity
David Perry -- Furniture Today, December 10, 2012
ST. LOUIS - Traditional mattress retailers are missing a "highly profitable" opportunity by not addressing the occasional- use bed market, says a company that sees growing demand for those products.
Boyd Specialty Sleep said demand for occasional-use beds, including airbeds and other portable sleep systems, has grown substantially - especially since the recession - and represents "one of the most significant lost opportunities" in the industry. The category is "grossly underserved by traditional mattress retailers," said Denny Boyd, president of Boyd Specialty Sleep.
He noted that his company sells 700,000 occasional beds annually and is planning to add several new designs. But many conventional producers have mostly ignored the category and the nation's furniture and mattress dealers have left the business to mass merchants and other distribution channels, Boyd said.
"The temporary sleep category is much more viable today than it used to be. The door is wide open for traditional retailers offering similar pricing to not only effectively compete with mass merchants, but to achieve parallel margins ranging from 45% to 60%," Boyd saud.
According to Boyd, who first entered the occasionaluse category in 1997, companies like Select Comfort and Aero Bed paved the way for air-based designs by educating the public for more than a decade about the flexibility and benefits of adjustable sleep.
"Increasing consumer awareness and acceptance of air-adjustable mattresses has helped drive sales of temporary air beds," he said, noting that air-based products represent a significant share of the occasional sleep segment.
Boyd Specialty Sleep currently markets more than 30 occasional air beds in twin, full and queen sizes, ranging in height from nine to 20 inches. With retails from $39 in twin to $149 in queen, most are PVC-constructed, floor-based models in pillow top, Eurotop or traditional styles. The beds use external or internal pumps with reverse evacuation and include other features like edge supports.
The company also markets temporary Comfort Ease beds, which use a three-inch memory- and poly-foam mattress on a foldable, reinforced metal frame. Another occasional-use offering is the Siesta rollout floor bed, which retails at $79 and comes in a nylon carrying bag.
Every Boyd temporary product can be sent via UPS, officials said.
Addressing other reasons for the stepped-up demand in temporary sleep options, Boyd pointed to their portability and convenience, comfort for the price, easy set-up and stowaway or storage capability.
"When we consider those product attributes in the context of the recent recession and the economy's slow recovery," Boyd said, "we believe our sales increases reflect a number of market developments that are now helping drive demand. Consumers are vacationing less and spending more time visiting family and friends; many Americans are driving more and flying less; the spotty job market has driven many ‘twenty-somethings' back to college, leaving fewer dollars to spend on a new mattress. Also, because our occasional use warranty data shows that more consumers are using them today as permanent sleep surfaces, this may partially explain the increased sales in the category."
With as much as 20% of its annual dollar volume resulting from temporary bed sales, Boyd Specialty Sleep maintains that the category represents a "tremendous but untapped growth opportunity" for conventional mattress and furniture retailers.
"Apart from any economic- related impact, our experience is that there's a major market segment that has moved away from promotionally priced innerspring mattresses to occasional use beds, which are less expensive and in many cases more comfortable," Boyd explained. "Considering that the American lifestyle involves holidays, sleepovers, family visits, summer vacations and camping trips - to name just a few occasions - it's no surprise that the majority of U.S. homes today have at least one temporary bed."
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