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The Secret Code for ‘Health’ in America Should Matter to Mattress Retailers

Ray Kinsley puttered around town in a pearl Buick with a blue top. He drove my grandma to the senior center for lunch each day and to church on Sundays. 

Along the way, he would jump curbs, motor through manicured lawns, bump bumpers, and park on top of the white lines.  

A string of fender benders unfolded before my dad, Mickey, found out and decided it was time to permanently park his parent’s car in the garage. 

My grandpa Ray was 90-years old and after dad retired the Buick we found out the townspeople of Crocker, Missouri appreciated my grandpa’s distinct colored car because it was an ivory and sapphire signal to get the hell out of the way; Ray was coming and he might run you off the road. 

The week after my dad secured the keys, I came home from basketball practice and saw the red light blinking on our answering machine. If you’re too young to know about answering machines, they were boxes inside your house where you got voicemails. 

Pressing the play button, my grandma Minnie’s tiny voice came on. “Mickey, you have 24 hours to return the car.” 


That’s all she said. Gangster grandma had spoken. The woman whose basement floor was lined with self-taught oil paintings of flowers and fruit bowls went full-Tony Soprano. 

It’s a common scenario. Parents age, they don’t know their limits, and their children step in to save them and others from getting hurt. 

Why do seniors get so upset when they lose their automobiles and what can this teach the mattress industry? 

There’s an insightful book by Dr. Clotaire Rapaille called The Culture Code in which he uses deep discovery sessions to uncover how people really feel about products and services. His methodology focuses on a series of exercises designed to make participants comfortable with sharing their deepest feelings about products, services, or companies. 

For example, Rapaille’s methods revealed that people have an affinity for doctors and nurses but hate hospitals. Since doctors save people, the American culture code is HERO. Nurses nurture and care for us. Their code is MOTHER. Meanwhile, hospitals are places dedicated to probing and procedures. It’s a lockbox where we are born and die. “The unconscious connection we make with hospitals is that when we are there, we are not people, but rather products. The Code for hospitals in America is PROCESSING PLANT.” 

My grandparents had friends that would give them rides to the senior center or shuttle them to church. But similar to hospitals that keep you tethered and trapped, hooked up to IV poles and confined inside bright rooms with beeping buttons, Minnie and Ray had lost their ability to move freely.

According to Dr. Rapaille, the culture code in America for health is MOVEMENT.  

When you can’t move, you can’t complete your mission or connect with your community. 

Health isn’t only about being able to enjoy a sunny day or getting rid of aches and pains. Health is the freedom to move, to get out and do a job that helps others, or to drive through the countryside to see the painted bluffs rising above the river. 

Retirees begin second careers because they find themselves with too little movement in their lives. A static existence is death, and movement equates to life and vitality. 

Inside furniture and mattress stores, there’s a product that can be positioned (literally) in a way that represents the culture code for health.

Adjustable bases provide MOVEMENT

A healthy sleeper moves approximately 50 times each night. We’re naturally more active during stage one sleep and REM. Also, if you don’t move, you could develop bedsores due to reduced blood flow. That’s a common problem for people who are immobile or limited, which further dramatizes the point that movement is on code.

Adjustable Bases: The Foundation for Health

Inside the bedroom, there’s no product more connected to the code for health than the adjustable base. 

For years, we’ve been trying to distance adjustables from the hospital bed stigma and I think we’ve been successful. The evolution of the message should focus on movement. 

Here are some slogans and ideas to kickstart your next marketing campaign and help you position your adjustable bases as a key to unlocking a healthier lifestyle. Some of these ideas focus on living up to your mission, making the most of your days, and the idea that those who are on the move are making an impact. 

These ideas are only meant to inspire your own creativity, but feel free to use them. 

Make a move toward healthier sleep.

Starting a movement starts with better sleep. 

Where movers and shakers go to recharge.

Get moving again. 

Taking action starts with better sleep. 

Change your position at night and change lives during the day. 

A body in motion stays in motion.

Staying still means staying awake. It’s time to move. 

Moving you to better days.  

My grandma’s threatening voice message didn’t rattle my dad enough to return the white and blue Buick, but it did remind us that freedom of movement matters. 

Years later, I read the Culture Code and understood why movement is so important. It’s what people really mean when they talk about health. 

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