Small Business Brief


Why Are There So Many Mattress Firms? 7 Things We Can Learn About Marketing from Internet Mattresses

More than 100 niche online mattress companies have sprung up in recent years. For anyone who’s been buying mattresses for longer than a few years, though, this change might seem inexplicable.

A mattress is a fairly large investment. Even a cheap one costs hundreds of dollars. However, the trade-off is that you only need a new mattress about every 10 years or so. So why are so many people buying new mattresses online?

In the past, people headed to mattress stores to make their choice. They would lay on bed after bed, select the perfect mattress, and arrange for delivery. But with the advent of online mattress companies, all that has changed.

Why are there so many mattress firms, and what can you learn about marketing from them? In this guide, we’ll take a look at what the mattress industry can teach us — keep reading for more!

Why Are There so Many Mattress Firms?

Most people consider Casper to be the first of the “new” mattress companies. In 2014, this brand changed the game.

Instead of letting customers haul a bulky mattress into their home, it promised to send a mattress in a box. This made one of the most ungainly household items far less intimidating. And customers could order it online, rather than going to the store. The brand also permitted returns, so customers could try it before committing.

This revolutionized the mattress world. It allowed people to shop for mattresses in a whole new way. As Casper grew, competitors started to grow too, like Layla Sleep and GhostBed. Although people don’t need new mattresses very often, these brands found plenty of customers. 

In addition to being returnable and easy to ship in a box, these mattress brands all promise different high-tech approaches to sleep. Some are reversible, while others have built-in data tracking to help you understand your sleep.

There’s no shortage of buyers for mattresses now. These companies turned an infrequently-purchased item into a trendy essential that customers seem happy to swap out for the next great thing. How did they do it? The secret lies in marketing. 

Marketing Lessons From Internet Mattresses

Your company probably doesn’t sell mattresses. In fact, it may not sell anything similar at all. But you can still learn plenty of marketing lessons from online mattress companies. 

Take this marketing wisdom from mattress companies, and use it for any product or service you need to sell. 

1. Let People Try Your Product

These online mattress companies succeeded largely because they allowed customers to try the mattress before buying it.

Of course, the companies lose money on returns, since they can’t re-sell used mattresses. However, having a generous return policy helps them gain new customers, so it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

When it comes to shopping online, no one wants to commit to something they haven’t seen or tried before. This is true for big-ticket items like mattresses, but it can also be true for small things like shoes.

No matter what you sell, make sure to give customers a way to try it out first. For example, if you sell software, a free trial period can get people hooked. After experiencing what you have to offer, those who like it will be glad to fork over a payment.

2. You Can Sell Anything Online

One reason online mattress companies succeeded is that they were tapping into an almost-empty market. People still didn’t shop for mattresses online — until a company showed them it was possible.

If you’re trying to figure out what to sell next, it’s useful to look for gaps that need to be filled. Is there anything that customers can’t buy digitally, but might like to?

And as online mattress sales show, creativity pays off. For example, the “mattress-in-a-box” innovation made buying a mattress online more appealing than it had ever been.

3. Quality Matters

Casper got a lot of buzz for being the first online mattress company. However, customers don’t make buying decisions because a brand was the first of its kind. At the end of the day, they care about quality.

It’s great to be innovative, creative, and disruptive. But you can be sure that lots of competitors will start vying for a piece of the pie when they see you succeed. To remain on top, you need to offer a product that’s better than the rest.

Quality refers to the product itself. But it can also refer to your customer service, shipping process, and other facets of the buying journey. The more quality you can offer every step of the way, the more competitive you’ll be.

4. Try Brick-and-Mortar Partnerships

Online mattress brands have expanded their profits by partnering with brick-and-mortar stores like Target. If you want to grow your sales, sometimes it’s good to offer things offline, too.

These partnerships give you the benefits of in-person sales, without having to open up your own store. If you can get a successful online business going, it will become easier to find partnerships with existing brands.

5. Never Stop Innovating

It’s rarely enough to offer one great product and stop there. Eventually, your competitors will figure out how to make copycat versions. To stay on top, you need to always offer new innovations.

These innovations work best if they’re driven by customer feedback. For example, mattress companies can look to customer reviews. If they offer a medium-firm mattress, but lots of people say they wish there was a soft version, creating one is an easy way to drive more sales. 

What Mattress Startups Can Teach You

Answering “Why are there so many mattress firms?” shows people in any niche how the combination of innovation and marketing pays off. Now, it’s time to take these marketing lessons and put them into practice at your own company. 

The future of sales is online, and it doesn’t look the same way traditional sales did. With this blend of creativity and time-tested tactics, you can tap into some of that mattress marketing success for yourself.

Not sure where your niche should be? Targeting the right niche makes all the difference — check out our guide here.