Mattress Industry Gets a Wake-up Call

I get a kick out of reading articles about the mattress industry for many reasons. The first is because our firm had a client in the industry so we know the materials that go into a mattress and what makes a mattress a good one vs. a not so good one. The second reason we like to follow the industry is because it’s well, if you can pardon the pun, a bit of a sleepy industry (everyone seems to know everyone else) and lots of little quirky monopoly/oligopoly suppliers serve the market (e.g. ticking fabric think of the blue and white stripes on say a jail bed) well, only one or two firms supply the entire US market (remember there are lots of flame retardant requirements for mattress products). The few spring manufacturers in the US have filed (and won) anti-dumping cases that we have reported on during these past couple of years. Here is a Leggett & Platt case, probably the most well known.

So imagine the laugh we had when we saw an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled: A Mattress at $33,000. Knowing what goes into a mattress, my immediate reaction was the innersprings must be made out of gold rather than heat-treated steel. As it turns out, my guess wasn’t that far off one Italian line, according to the article called Magniflex uses a fabric containing 22-karat gold. (Though I’m not sure how that enhances one’s sleep¦I’d be paranoid somebody might want to kill me for my bed). Though the article focuses on the whole trend of luxury bedding, being the manufacturing gal that I am, I wanted to better understand the materials involved. If you are curious about the overhead and costs of production of these luxury mattresses, check out this post on our sister site Spend Matters.

Think horsehair, wool, flax, cotton (not just any cotton it has to be certified organic), memory foam, cashmere, aloe vera, natural latex foam, of course the gold fabric, mohair, silk, biofoam layers you get the picture. Our friends in Europe have paid $69,500 for some lines (us cheap Americans have only stretched so far as the $33,000 line from E. S. Kluft & Co). In my old Big 5 consulting days I remember the advice we used to give clients either become the low cost producer or move to the luxury/high end of the market. The middle market is no-man’s land. Clearly that has happened in the mattress industry. New players have cropped up to take advantage of some consumer trends not currently met by some of the industry’s largest players. The “sleepy part of the industry will continue to battle it out on the cost side while the high-end producers will attempt to continue to innovate and create “the ultimate sleep experience.

I can’t say that I haven’t succumbed to some of the marketing messages from the luxury mattress market. I think mine is a 5 pound visco 11 all memory foam cashmere/aloe vera covered mattress. It’s heaven. It’s not $33,000 but it wasn’t $500 either. Sadly enough, I’ve given up metals in my sleep products. The memory foam is heavenly stuff.

–Lisa Reisman

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  • I also seen that article “a mattress at $33,000”, it is like a big joke (april fool joke). May be they are using diamonds instead of foam. 🙂


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