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Specialty sleep losing ground as innerspring segment gains
The latest Bedding Barometer report issued by the International Sleep Products Assn. contains some shocking news: Innerspring bedding is dramatically outperforming specialty sleep.
For the first six months of the year, innerspring mattress unit shipments are running 7 percentage points higher than specialty mattress units, while innerspring dollars are 10.9 percentage points higher than specialty dollars, ISPA reported.
The ISPA figures, which present a snapshot of industry performance, show specialty mattress units and dollars both in negative territory for the year (down 5.6% and 4.8% respectively), while innerspring mattress units and dollars are both in positive territory (up 1.4% and 6.1% respectively).
What has happened to the traditionally high-flying specialty sleep category?
I posed that question to bedding producers at the Las Vegas Market and received a variety of answers. The executive summary goes like this: Hybrids are flying high and specialty sleep power brands like Tempur-Pedic and Sleep Number are struggling, dragging the specialty category down.
For some reason, both Tempur-Pedic and Select Comfort, the owner of the Sleep Number brand, have had advertising issues this year and are now seeking to return to proven ad strategies.
Bedding execs also bemoan a shaky economy, one that has consumers trading down, where innerspring beds are well positioned, instead of up, where the specialty sleep beds are well positioned.
Also, the nature of the specialty sleep business is changing. Memory foam, to cite one example, is broadly placed through major producers' lines, in both foam-core (specialty) and innerspring core (innerspring) lines. A decline in specialty mattress units does not automatically mean, therefore, that memory foam is losing traction with consumers.
Hybrids (innerspring core beds cushioned with specialty foams) are creating excitement on retail floors, bedding execs told me in Las Vegas. While some in the industry still don't like the hybrid term and minimize the appeal of those products, there is no doubt that hybrid models are helping drive innerspring sales.
Hybrids are not classified as specialty sleep beds, but are often packed with specialty foams. The beds do offer the best of both worlds, combining the contouring support and breathability of springs and the cushioning comfort of plush foams.
And, at the moment, they are a significant success story in an industry that is barely holding its own.