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Brands & Reviews Has Tempurpedic Lost Touch With What Customers Want?

Published on February 19th, 2013 | by Mattress Journal

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Has Tempurpedic Lost Touch With What Customers Want?

Tempurpedic‘s under-performing sales and recent expansion into other sectors leads many to wonder whether the brand has lost touch with what customers want. In an effort to address previous complaints of sleeping hot with their Tempurpedic line such as sleeping hot, trapped or sinking feelings, and too few options, the company seems to be trying nearly every route to maintain relevancy. Their new additions including Tempur-Choice airbeds and the Tempur-Ergo Premier adjustable beds represent a push to turn things around, but is that what shoppers are looking for?

Shifting Mattress Trends

The mattress industry is one of rapid change over the past 20 years. New technologies and trends result in quick response from industry leaders, who seem to debut new developments every year. In the the 20+ years Tempurpedic has been in the game, buyers’ wants and market trends have changed dramatically. Here are few of the trends shoppers today look for.

Eco-Friendly

The green revolution is in full swing. Modern shoppers growing wise to pollution and environmental issues want the peace of mind that items they purchase aren’t harming the planet. Dwindling oil supplies also lead people to seek alternative, renewable products in favor of petroleum products. Advances in the creation of memory foam using sustainable and Eco-friendly methods to reduce the release of dangerous chemicals have transformed the industry. However, Tempurpedic foams, by all accounts, are not Eco-friendly. They make no claims about using natural products or Eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Other brands like Amerisleep continue enjoying growth, with plant-based foams, renewable fabrics and VOC-free, green manufacturing.

Cool Sleeping

Traditional memory foam is a natural insulator, meaning it tends to retain body heat near sleepers rather then dissipate it.  For people that naturally sleep warm, this can be a problem and is in fact one of the biggest complaints for Tempur beds. Plant-based memory foams with open-cell technology and other types of foams like natural latex dissipate heat better and thus allow for cooler sleep.

Ease of Movement

One other factor that plays a role in mattress satisfaction is the ability to move in bed and get in and out easily. Tempurpedic material has a very slow response rate, which can often leave sleepers with a “stuck” feeling and make moving around difficult or unpleasant. Newer memory foams that retain the buoyancy and density while offering greater responsiveness solve this issue and may lead to more satisfactory sleeping.

No Harmful Chemicals

Along the same lines as being environmentally friendly, buyers also want to know that the bed they and their families sleep on doesn’t contain dangerous or unhealthy chemicals. Traditional memory foams by nature contain VOCs with a host of potential side effects. The fire retardants, synthetic fabrics and glues used by most big mattress companies further add to the chemical mix. Tempurpedic remains very vague on what their products contain in material and additives, which is seen a negative for many shoppers.

Affordable

Mid-range luxury items are often the first to go during a recession, and Tempurpedic’s items are definitely on the high end of the mattress spectrum, with average beds in the thousands.  The widespread availability of memory foam technology means other manufacturers don’t have the high markups that persist with Tempur products. With the internet becoming a popular shopping  tool, shoppers are comparison shopping and expecting sales and deals now more than ever. However, Tempurpedic remains very reluctant to offer sales, discounts or promos in an effort to maintain their prices and luxury image.

Online Shopping

Online shopping is booming, and the trend will surely only continue to grow. People who buy mattresses online actually report higher overall satisfaction, and when combined with lower prices and better guarantees, this may signal problems for the showroom/dealer model.  Though Tempurpedic sells direct online, the vast majority of their revenues come from showroom dealers and declines in that sector will affect them.

Tempurpedic’s Latest Additions

For many years, the brand denied competition affected their bottom line, and stuck with fairly consistent product offerings. However fierce competition from other companies and struggling sales within industry has forced Tempurpedic to expand and change. The one time market giant who was “changing the way we sleep” now seems to be grasping at straws, following competitors it once dwarfed and ignored. Recent additions aim to address some of the previously consumers’ complaints and take on competing retailers.

Tempur-Choice Air Mattresses

Tempur’s entry into the airbed market with Tempur-Choice is astounding to members of the industry as they had long proclaimed the mattresses inferior. Indeed, air mattresses do rank lower in satisfaction than memory foam, but still higher overall compared to spring mattresses. This new collection offers 4-5 inches of memory foam over adjustable air chambers, and will have similar pricing and warranties to the brands other offerings.

The beds themselves aim to compete with air mattress brands which maintain a significant proportion of specialty mattress sales, but competition in the market is fairly tight. Unless Tempurpedic offers a truly revolutionary line, they may find it hard to break into this sector and compete, especially being one of the most expensive brands. The chart below, from Mattress-Inquirer.com compares Tempur-Choice to luxury air beds from Select Comfort and SimplyRest.com

  Tempur-Choice SimplyRest Sleep Number
Models Supreme & Luxe 8 & 10 Series i8 & i10 Models
Toppers 4-5″ Memory Foam 3-5″ Memory Foam & Latex 2-3″ of Foam/Memory Foam/Latex
Bladders Tri-Zone Tri-Zone Single Zone
Dual Chamber Design Unknown Side-by-Side Middle Rail
Pump Whisper Quiet Whisper Quiet Whisper Quiet
Remote Wireless Wireless LCD Wireless
Settings 120 200 20
Trial Unknown 90 days 30 days
Warranty 25 Years 20 Years 20 Years
Queen Price $3499 $2699 $3299

Cloud, Breeze & Simplicity Memory Foam Lines

In the past two years, the company introduced several other types of memory foam in effort to address customers’ concerns. The Cloud line is meant to offer softer beds for those dissatisfied with overly firm nature of their core line. However, reviews complain of lacking support, quick wearing, and heat. The Breeze collection was introduced to offer a cooler-sleeping alternative with special covers and unique foam. The Breeze line has mixed reviews, with many people unsure of the difference and still complaining of heat. The Simplicity represents their attempt to compete with lower-priced models, however this bed has received critical attention for using low 2.5lb density foam and still charging much more than comparable lines using 4lb and higher densities.

Tempur-Ergo Adjustable Beds

Adjustable beds remain a booming product in home furniture, with a rapidly expanding baby boomer population and new high tech and affordable options. Tempur-Ergo includes four models ranging from basic to the new Premier. Few details have been released about the newest model, but it will have wireless controls, app-enabled connectivity, and advanced massage. Overall it appears to be similar to other luxury adjustable beds like the Leggett and Platt Prodigy and Astrabeds ErgoStar LifeWave, both of which feature advanced controls, massage, snore control, and more. The Premier will retail for $1999 in queen, hundreds more than comparable models.

Has Tempurpedic Lost Touch with Consumers?

So where does the consumer figure into the new lines offered by Tempurpedic? It appears a great deal of hope is placed on yet another “luxury” line of mattresses. Consumers continue to increase their awareness and educate themselves prior to making large purchases. This may be part of what has led to their decline over the past year. With a weakening economy and the ability to find comparable mattresses at significantly lower prices, savvy consumers are choosing to spend less. Rather than updating the manufacturing process used to create their memory foam line as a response to complaints, Tempurpedic seems to be reaching out every direction.

While the brand has attempted to address complaints of heat, firmness and feeling trapped, reviews are largely mixed. What’s more, they have completely ignored issues like chemicals, VOC’s, and offgassing. Their lack of transparency in regard to materials, fabrics, and features proves concerning for many shoppers.  The issue remains that comparable beds which  resolve these issues are available widely online from reputable sellers like Amerisleep.com, and at a fraction of Tempurpedic’s prices.

After being considered a market leader for decades, it seems like the brand is losing touch with modern sleepers. The company experienced overall 1% decline in sales over 2012, and had a significantly lower 4th quarter, with profits falling 58%. They also experienced a rough year on the stock market, with shares currently only half of what they were one year prior. Whether these recent additions are a desperate hope of recouping a larger share of the industry, or were already in the works prior to the losses shown over the last year, and whether they will prove successful is yet to be seen. While they maintain increasingly tentative grip on specialty mattress market, only time will tell whether maintaining their current modus operandi while  expanding into luxury air and adjustable beds will improve Tempurpedic’s bottom line.

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