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David Perry

Consumers give thumbs up to hybrids, specialty beds

March 20, 2013

What's the best type of mattress to buy? I wish I had a dollar (or two) for every time someone has asked me that.

My answer, of course, is that there are many great mattresses on the market and that the real question is: What's the best mattress for your needs and your price range?

Thanks to some important consumer research that we undertook last year with Apartment Therapy, I can now give a concise review of consumer preferences of various bed types.

This is invaluable data from a marketing perspective. We all have our thoughts on what type of mattress offers the best sleep, but the real answer lies, as it should, in the minds (and in the backs and shoulders and hips) of the sleepers.

As I noted in a past column, hybrid sleep sets, those consisting of innersprings and specialty foams, have more really happy owners than any other type of bedding. We asked consumers what kind of sleep they are getting with their current mattress. "Excellent" responded 59% of hybrid owners, 52% of memory foam owners, 50% of airbed owners, 49% of latex foam owners and just 25% of innerspring owners. That's a clear win for the hybrids.

If you add in the percentage of consumers who say their current mattress gives them a "good" night sleep, however, the situation is a bit different. A total of 92% of memory foam owners say those beds give them an excellent or a good night's sleep, followed by 89% of latex foam owners, 88% of hybrid bed owners, 81% of airbed owners, and 69% of innerspring owners.
So memory foam has a slight edge in high satisfaction levels, but hybrids and latex beds are in the same neighborhood, with airbeds trailing a bit behind.

The good news for the industry is that consumers report high satisfaction levels with a number of different types of sleep sets.

Why do innerspring beds lag in satisfaction levels? I think the answer lies, in part, because they are offered at a wide range of price points, from promotional to high end. Specialty sleep beds generally start at much higher prices. It's not really fair to compare a $299 innerspring bed and a $2,000 memory foam bed, but our survey with Apartment Therapy doesn't sort out satisfaction levels by price range. Perhaps we can look at that issue later.

For now, we think these consumer satisfaction scores are worthy of careful consideration by bedding marketers. It's powerful to be able to tell consumers that a new bedding line features a "consumer preferred" design. Our data lets makers of hybrid sleep sets, memory foam beds and latex beds make those claims.

We will be offering further insights in this area later this year. Focusing on the consumer is always a good idea.