Are retailers snoozing on the sleep-tech opportunity?

Discussion
Photo: @musiena via Twenty20; Source: SleepScore app
Feb 26, 2021
Tom Ryan

Mattress Firm, the retail mattress chain, has partnered with SleepScore Labs, best known for its sleep-tracking app, to enable store associates to tap sleep quality insights when helping customers find the “perfect mattress.”

Founded in 2016 by sleep experts from ResMed, Apple, Philips and Harvard, SleepScore Labs’ sleep-tracking technology — based on more than 70 million hours of sleep data — powers SleepScore, described by the company as “the world’s most accurate sleep app.” The partnership includes an investment by Mattress Firm in SleepScore Labs.

Store associates will use the data and app technology to identify the right mattress for each customer and monitor their post-purchase experience. A sleep tracking app will be developed under Sleep.com, the online resource offering tips on better sleep launched by Mattress Firm last August.

The marketing opportunity around getting a good night’s sleep has been getting more attention due to the health and wellness trend. During the pandemic, the shift to work-from-home and uptick in home renovations is also believed to have broadened the sleep opportunity.

Philip Krim, Casper’s CEO, said Thursday on a quarterly earnings call, “Changes in consumer behavior accelerated by the pandemic, including increased suburbanization and a heightened focus on health and wellness, are only strengthening the demand for our products.”

Sleep innovations in recent years have included weighted blankets, calming pillow sprays and supplements like melatonin. Many tech-driven solutions have also been introduced, such as apps, tracking devices, white noise machines and smart beds.

Many wrist trackers and headbands showcased at recent CES shows promise to not only track sleep patterns but diagnose sleep issues and train individuals on how to get better rest. Sleep Number’s smart mattresses are now able to link sleep quality to daytime alertness.

A recent BBC article explored whether, as the third pillar to health behind nutrition and exercise, sleep is still being shortchanged, even with all the new solutions.

Mike Grillo, CEO of Gravity Product, a maker of sleep accessories, told the BBC, “People don’t necessarily balk at spending $1,100 on a stationary bike in their house, or going to $40 fitness classes. And I think you’re now starting to see that same type of tolerance come to the sleep economy as well.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the mattress purchasing decision become increasingly tech-driven in the years ahead? Do you think retailers are generally shortchanging the marketing and merchandising opportunities around sleep?

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9 Comments on "Are retailers snoozing on the sleep-tech opportunity?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

The sleep economy is growing. Mattresses, pillows, sleep apps, fragrance to aid sleep and so many other areas are in growth. As such, I am sure that for some consumers technology will play a greater role in choosing the perfect mattress. However despite the growth one glaring fact stands out: there are far too many mattress retailers and far too many mattress stores relative to demand. Some are going to feel a squeeze!

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

This all sounds great. It will work, if it works. But I am not buying a mattress until I lay on it.

About a year ago, I was passing the Casper store in SOHO. I thought I’d check their product out. I went in and asked for their hardest mattress. Tried it. Not even close.

Bindu Gupta
BrainTrust

Today’s consumers are more data driven. They do their product research and read reviews before purchasing big ticket items. With an increased focus on health and wellness, this behavior will translate to purchasing sleep products as well. Retailers like Mattress Firm are making the right moves by partnering with sleep tracking technology companies like SleepScore Labs. This gives the confidence that a consumer needs while making such purchases.

Yogesh Kulkarni
BrainTrust

Being a geek at heart that loves data, I have a biosensor that tells me exactly me the quality of sleep that breaks down my sleep stats into light, rapid eye and deep sleep. Using my own stats, I can tell you that sleep and recovery stats matter in your ability to work, exercise and be at your best. This is a indeed growing industry and there are companies like Whoop that started working with elite athletes at first which now have reached a billion dollar valuation with their appeal to everyday consumers. I think health, wellness and biosensor feedback is the future and I totally think Mattress Firm is reading the market right. If they can prove that they will improve my deep sleep by 15 minutes a night, I am buying their mattress. 🙂

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

I believe that sleep is an underrated component of health and that it is as important as diet and exercise but few of us treat it that way. We say, I’ll catch up on the weekend — but that never happens. Retailers need to embrace this opportunity. A regional chain in Massachusetts came up with the “Sleep Doctor” concept which was really successful for them. I have even heard people say that they saw the doctor thinking that they were in fact a medical professional. I believe this is a target rich opportunity. I personally just realized that I am allergic to down pillows and that has interrupted my sleep for my whole life until last year. Perhaps a “sleep doctor” is exactly what is needed.

Rodger Buyvoets
BrainTrust

Retailers should take a closer look at post-pandemic behavior to identify where the marketing opportunities lie. For example, the sleep economy points to a growing trend in optimizing at-home health and wellness. Plant sales have soared. Subscription food boxes. Local-buying. Yes there’s a move to sleep-tech, but this should be put into the context of general buying behavior and how this has drastically shifted…

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

The rising sleep economy is still largely untapped and, at the same time, no clear winners have emerged yet. There is certainly an opportunity for retailers and related product brands in this area although one issue I’ve not seen addressed or challenged yet is around data privacy. Like everything else these days, the magic output and benefit for consumers come from a deep analysis of sleep-related data points. That usually means sending your data into the cloud to be processed for those insights. Are consumers thinking about what companies can do with that data beyond the offered value on improving your sleep quality? It’s yet one more aspect of data privacy to consider…

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

As someone who struggles to get a good night’s sleep, I’m all for new technologies providing assistance, data and recommendations on how to get better rest. Retailers are foolish not to leverage these new tools and services to attract, assist and satisfy sleep-deprived customers.

Trevor Sumner
BrainTrust

It’s a fast growing category that requires a lot of education, an area where Big Box retailers lack the sales associate expertise to drive shoppers to their best choices. Ultimately, the question is, who fills the void? Mattress sales companies have big retail footprints, but only occasional visit frequency. I could see Best Buy filling the void in smart home, but since many products have lack an electronic tie in, they may not be a fit. This leaves department stores (who are missing the boat) and drug stores. All have challenges given the dynamics of this emerging category.

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