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Excitement in gel bed arena among High Point highlights
Things I learned at the recent High Point Market:
1. Gel beds are bedding's next big thing, but there will be twists and turns in the category.
The gel bandwagon picked up steam in High Point, with Therapedic, Restonic, Paramount, Jamison and South Bay showing new gel beds, joining a field that already includes Serta, Simmons, Symbol, Gold Bond, Classic Brands and Natura.
Gel beds are generally positioned at premium price points of $1,000 to more than $2,000, and they will help give the specialty sleep category even more momentum.
There is a lot of excitement about gel beds in the marketplace, and that's a good thing. It's a healthy development for the mattress business that it can keep creating dynamic new product categories.
But there will be some challenges. For one, producers are scrambling to sort out which gel names they can use and which names are claimed by someone else. And we hear rumblings about battles to protect certain designs.
Look for several new gel beds at the Las Vegas Market, which opens Jan. 30.
2. And speaking of Las Vegas, I also learned that the next bedding market there is already shaping up as a blockbuster for introductions.
A number of major producers told me in High Point that they are working on important new offerings for Vegas. Sealy is planning to launch its new Embody specialty sleep line there, and other majors are planning big moves. The details, at this point, are being closely held by the companies.
Note to companies showing in Las Vegas: It's not too early to begin thinking about your public relations plans for Vegas. I will be taking my first look at a major Vegas introduction later this month.
3. Latex mattress toppers are all the rage, but are they costing us mattress sales?
Producers showing new toppers in High Point included Pure LatexBliss, International Bedding, Jamison, Paramount and Carolina Mattress Guild.
In some cases toppers are a Band-Aid for worn out beds, but I was told in High Point that many retail sales associates are selling toppers with new beds because they are easy add-on sales. And we all know the importance of add-on sales these days.
4. Mattress producers are stepping up their games.
Therapedic had its broadest new product offering, while Jamison made an impressive introduction of its rebranded product lines. Paramount Sleep continues to shine with well developed and thoughtful product launches. Enso Sleep Products has added a well-respected bedding veteran to help develop its line. And furniture powerhouse Ashley is making some powerful moves in mattresses.