An Insider's View

Epperson

Industry money makers: Mattresses vs. lift chairs

May 22, 2017

At the April 2017 High Point market, it was interesting to see the contrast in two quite different product categories.

Give Tempur-Pedic and Serta credit for creating specialty foam mattresses that consumers responded to and have been willing to pay up for. The mattress industry could use an iComfort-like introduction every year.

High Point is not THE mattress market like Las Vegas, but there were several new imported mattress offerings that were almost too good to be true. They had premium exteriors with questionable innards but looked great.

The intention is to offer these to retail at premium margins, pricing just below the existing foam options, but we all know the reality of our industry’s race to the bottom on pricing. Soon these intended $999-plus mattresses will be selling well below $600 and still making decent margins, but every one of these is replacing a sale that should have been three times the price.

Decades ago in upholstery when some manufacturers used premium covers on so-so frames, the descriptive term was “flash on trash.” Some got away with it, but it came back to haunt others.

Are we doing the same in mattresses?

The consumer has only us to say what is inside that ticking. Is it quality and long lasting or is it just enough stuffing stuff to make the sale? It is a blind product. Besides, we already have mattresses designed to sell at promotional prices with decent margins, so why kill the industry’s best money-makers? I don’t understand.

Meanwhile, in the world of lift chairs — the original power recliners — there is excitement with new features and styling. No longer just bullet-proof fabrics targeting the elderly and their parents, there are exciting new options that should be attractive to a much broader array of users. They look good, sit much better and can be used in the home with pride.

Some power chairs today offer the lift option and some lift chairs offer other premium options. Yes, these move prices above the historic pricing dictated by insurance reimbursement, but people who want these features can often pay to have something they can use that does not look like it belonged to their grandpa who fought in the Big One.

Don’t miss this opportunity. 

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