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Mattress Industry Insiders Should NOT Go On The Family Feud

Don’t be the unconscious incompetent. 

What does that even mean?! It means, know what you don’t know. 

There have been many times when this industry has guessed and got it wrong. “One sided beds will never be a thing,” said Douglas Dumbshit (that was me by the way.) “Memory foam will never exceed 10% of the market,” presumed Clay Clueless. “People that buy beds online without trying them won’t buy them a second time because the quality just isn’t there,” Harriet Hopeful speculated.

When I first started getting more involved in marketing, I discovered how to use research as a tool to inform my decisions. Once I started down that path I went nuts to learn more and do more as I knew that there was “gold in them thar hills.”  

First came the quantitative surveys and how to write questions, field questions, pick sample sizes, anticipate projectable outcomes, how to use cross tabs, and understand the dynamics behind statistically relevant sample sizes. 

Then I watched a good friend Kurt Ling moderate some focus groups for me to understand the qualitative data set, as we tried to dig deeper into the consumer opinion related to the mattress category, and it was awesome. 

Sitting behind a glass partition, eating M&M’s, and watching as Ling exposed the raw truth behind consumer opinions. 

Is a focus group better with five people or eight  people, and is there really that big of a difference? What is an IDI (In Dept Interview) and are they better than focus “groups”? What should you really take to heart vs. what should you discount? When a dominant personality starts to take over the group, how do you handle that heckler? 

When I was ready, they exposed me to conjoint research which crashes together qualitative and quantitative data to give you the best of both worlds. 

So, why the lesson in different types of marketing research? Because a working knowledge of market research can help you pick the right path forward as we move beyond this bizarre covid situation that has changed how consumers think about the way they shop, their health, their sleep, and their mattress. 

If we seek first to understand, then our decisions can get a little bit easier and maybe even help us make some moves that allow us to grow our business. What if you put too much importance on your own opinion and decide NOT to listen to the voice of the consumer? Let’s see how that looks with the recent survey The FAM did in conjunction with Nationwide Marketing Group.  

We asked consumers, “How likely are you to purchase your next mattress without trying it in person? (Extremely likely, Very Likely, Likely, Not at all Likely.) 

Sixty-four percent said they are extremely/very/or likely going to purchase their next mattress without trying it first. 

We asked this same question to industry insiders, but instead of giving us their own opinion, we asked them to guess as to what the consumer answer was going to be. Seventy-five percent of respondents said that consumers would “not at all be likely” to buy a bed without trying it first. 

Pause on that for just a minute. 

If you have someone inside of your organization that is walking around downplaying the direct-to-consumer sale of mattresses because, “they think it is a fad and will pass,” how much business would you miss out on by not sourcing a roll pack solution to sell on your website? 

Side note for Nationwide members, be sure to ask your representative about their “exchange platform” where they make it easier for you to sell beds online.

We also asked our LinkedIn mattress insiders how consumers would answer this question: “Please rank the following in the order of importance to your personal achievement of quality sleep: stress management, sleep aids, sleep environment, mattress, exercise, or nutrition. 

The industry said that 50% of consumers would say that the number one  factor in getting a good night of sleep was of course….the mattress. Fact is that mattresses ranked dead last on that list, with sleep aids as the number one answer. 

This makes total sense if you think about it. 

The overwhelming majority of advertising messages in the mattress category are focused on product, price or promotion with very little being said to connect a mattress to the ultimate benefit of quality sleep. To give you some sense of how incredibly bad this is, consider how people would answer that same question if the problem they were solving was being overweight. 

Would consumers give credit to the types of food they ate and exercise as the best solutions or would they also say that a diet pill was the best way to shed unwanted pounds? I don’t have the data but diet pills seemed to go out of style a long time ago. 

We have to pay attention to what consumer research is telling us instead of relying on our own opinion as the gospel truth. We can want it to be true, but that won’t make it so. 

The good news is that The FAM just completed a large project with Nationwide to understand consumer insights in the mattress category and there is more to learn, like how important is shopping local. 

Are consumers who buy from mattress and furniture stores more happy with their purchase than those buying online?  Click here to become a member of The FAM and you’ll get instant access to the entire research deck..

You have to be really careful with research however, because it can take you down the wrong road. Don’t put too much focus on quantitative data that doesn’t take into consideration specifics about your market. Yes, it is an important data point, but not the ONLY thing you should be paying attention to. 

With qualitative research, it is easy to get hung up on what one person says and somehow project that to the opinion of the masses. Have you ever seen a merchant walk through a bedding department and get hit up by a retail salesperson that says “we need a pillow top in green fabric at $2,000 because we don’t have any of those.” Next thing you know, Kermit the Bed is on the floor gathering dust because the merchant based a decision on one person’s opinion. 

Mark Kinsley and I don’t have it all figured out either, which is why we are going to be doing a series of FAM Webishows (webinars Dos Marcos style), where we bring in industry experts to talk about the research, consider several different data inputs, and then triangulate around some different opinions that could help you see things a little more clearly. 

A curious mind is a great thing, and learning your way into your business is critical. Ask your team about their opinion. Go to your consumers with a Facebook poll. Read the research put out there by The FAM and Nationwide and stir that into your consideration set. Maybe even invite some of your best customers in for a nice lunch and ask them about your new direction and if they think it’s a good idea. 

Bottom line, be a student of the category and stir that together with what you already know and you will be giving yourself the best possible chance at success. In conclusion please be aware that 86.5% of the statistics that are quoted to you are made up on the spot to prove a point so; proceed with caution 🙂

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