Smart Report: Basic Bedding - July 2011

Comfort In Sleep
By Wanda Jankowski

Downlite’s SMARTDOWN™ Collection focuses on an engineered blend of down enriched with anti-microbial polyester fiber fill. It offers a value-oriented solution that provides added loft with warmth and support.
Miracle Sleep Natural Talalay Latex Zoned Pillows offer the support of a contour pillow with the classic look of a traditional pillow. The custom-molded support zones conform to the head and neck. The Zoned Plush version is for front and back sleepers; the Zoned Firm, for back and side sleepers.
Left The Pacific Coast® StayLoft™ All Down Pillow is crafted for consumers seeking a more supportive down-filled pillow without adding extra ounces of down fill. The StayLoft™ features Pacific Coast Feather’s exclusive Hyperclean® 550-fill-power down and its proprietary 300-thread-count, 100 percent cotton Barrier Weave™ Fabric®. Offered in standard, queen and king sizes, the pillow is machine washable.
 

Basic Bedding Plus’ Greatest Challenges

“One is the combination of pricing stability and consumer recognition of real product value versus retail manipulated promotional value. Another is lack of consumer knowledge about basic bedding, which results in customer choice being made on price point rather than quality.”—Bob Hickman, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, United Feather & Down

“The toughest challenge is the ongoing market volatility. Historically high raw material prices have not softened, forcing manufacturers and retailers to either pass costs through to consumers or down-spec products as a means to maintain last year’s retail prices. How consumers will respond to either scenario remains to be seen.”—Fritz Kruger, senior vice-president of marketing, Pacific Coast Feather

“It is pricing uncertainty due to overall upward costing pressure in key raw materials. Exchange and labor rates in China are greatly affecting our imported goods as well.”—Jyl Davis, director of marketing, Downlite

“Saturation and inferior goods to meet price points.”—David Fuchs, vice-president of sales, Comfort Revolution

“The biggest problem is the lack of consumers shopping for window treatments. This is true for many industries, but the lack of demand has led to oversupply, price reductions and a number of dealers going out of business. Maybe this is stating the obvious, but we need to get consumers shopping again.”—John Fitzgerald, executive vice-president, Comfortex

“We may lose a lot of our vendor countries. Prices are getting crazy, rising very quickly and there really is no place to go. Labor costs in China have gone up 40 percent. Other countries will all follow.”—Barry Shapiro, owner, Miracle Sleep

The Miracle Sleep mattress topper is made with three-piece construction that integrates air-regulated comfort zones for the neck, lower back and knees with 100 percent natural latex for maximum orthopedic support. The customized topper comes in four versions: 2-inch and 3-inch toppers, each in two body styles depending on weight.

Performance benefits are the name of the game for products designed to promote a good night’s sleep

Suppliers that create basic bedding and other products, such as blackout window treatments, geared toward helping consumers achieve a good night’s sleep are rising to the challenges of the slow economic recovery, working harder with retailers to pack even more value into product offerings.

“The ongoing recession has diminished our dealers’ ability to invest in new programs and sampling,” says John Fitzgerald, executive vice-president, Comfortex. “Having said that, our line has grown as dealers and consumers increasingly appreciate the overall value we provide. However, we need to be realistic in our expectations when many dealers do not have the money to invest.”

David Fuchs, vice-president of sales, Comfort Revolution, notes, “[The slow-recovering economy] seems to make retailers more tentative in reacting when they see an item. Everything is a test; buyers need to know that an item or collection is proven before getting behind it.”

“We feel Downlite’s customer relationships continue to strengthen,” says Jyl Davis, director of marketing, Downlite. “Our customers can depend on us to deliver a quality, value driven product that is able to sell at retail.”

“The economy has had a significant impact on consumers’ income. Rent, mortgage, food and other necessities come first before they buy a comforter. It’s at the end of the parade of spending,” says Bob Hickman, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, United Feather & Down.

Performance Art

The way to make comfort sleep products part of the “parade of spending” is to embue goods with performance attributes, which suppliers are doing via innovations.

“The most important aspect is the performance and function of a product. When buying a pillow, it’s not about price. It’s about an investment in a good night’s sleep,” Hickman explains.

United Feather & Down is focusing on branded products that offer strong benefits. The Villa di Borghese bedding collection, for example, is designed with botanical fabrics and fill materials to provide spa-quality comfort. Sheex is made with performance athletic fabrics characterized by their stretch, breathability and moisture-wicking ability.

Downlite launched the SMARTDOWN™ Collection that focuses on an engineered blend of down enriched with anti-microbial polyester fiber fill. This value-oriented solution provides warmth , support and added loft.
“Our product development focuses on giving solutions to our customers,” says Davis. “We are finding that customers are looking for something new and exciting, but at a price point they can sell.”

Barry Shapiro has launched the Miracle Sleep line of luxury mattress toppers made in the U.S. with three-piece construction and featuring patent-pending, air-controlled comfort zones for the neck, lower back and knees. Made with 100 percent natural Talalay latex, 2-inch and 3-inch thick topper versions are offered that are further customized to support sleepers’ varied weights and bed sizes.

What differentiates Miracle Sleep is the ability to customize how much support is given to which area of the body.

“The retailer features an in-store sample, but does not buy inventory,” Shapiro says. “Since it is a customized product, all the retailer does is get the weight of the consumer and the side of the bed they sleep on. The product takes about ten days from ordering to delivery.”

All the toppers come with a Tencel fabric cover that wicks away moisture.

The Miracle Sleep line also includes customized Talalay latex pillows in standard/queen and king sizes, and fitted with 100 percent cotton washable covers.

Comfortex Window Fashions, a leading manufacturer and fabricator of custom window treatment products, is contributing to the comfort sleep market with its SlumberShade. Available in cellular and roller shade versions, the SlumberShade is a blackout shade that provides both room-darkening and energy-saving benefits through the use of the patented blackout sidetracks. These sidetracks are easily installed and removed for window cleaning.

Based on the product’s ability to block sleep-hindering sunlight, the SlumberShade has been endorsed as the “Official Window Shade of the National Sleep Foundation.” The Comfortex SlumberShade has the added benefit of reducing energy loss in homes by sealing the gaps between the shade and the window to create a solid insulating barrier.

Pacific Coast Feather has developed products in several areas that answer consumers’ lifestyle needs. “For example, ‘comfort to go’ products, including: pillows, pillow protectors and sleep shells, which consumers may take on their travels, and products that address ever-increasing concerns regarding bed bugs and allergens,” says Fritz Kruger, senior vice-president of marketing.

“We also are energized by the recent merger between Pacific Coast Feather Company and United Feather & Down,” says Kruger. “We’re already realizing the benefits with our ability to offer greater value and service to our customers and partners, and tap into new growth opportunities.”

“Comfort is always the biggest need, although we are addressing other customer concerns in our new line of Hydraluxe Pillows and Toppers,” says Fuchs. Comfort Revolution’s Hydraluxe pillows and topper layer memory foam with Hydraluxe gel technology. The advanced gel technology cradles the body and provides a cooling, comfortable sleep experience.

All parties involved in creating and selling comfort sleep products are hopeful that the draw of performance benefits at affordable prices is enough to swing the “parade of consumer spending” their way.

Resources

• Comfort Revolution, 732-272-9111, comfortrevolution.com
• Comfortex Window Fashions, 800-843-4151, comfortex.com
• Downlite International, 800-543-3696, downlite.com
• Miracle Sleep, 212-779-2976, barry@miraclesleep.us
• Pacific Coast Feather, 206-624-1057, pacificcoast.com
• United Feather and Down, 847-296-6500, ufandd.com


LDB INTERIOR TEXTILES is published by EW Williams Publications Company
Phone: 1-201- 592-7007 Fax: 1-212-988-0588