The International Sleep Products Association’s first 100 years—Part IV of the fourth and final installment
Sharpening the sleep-mattress message
“Replace your mattress every eight to 10 years.”
That had been the bedding industry’s longstanding message to consumers. It was a well-intentioned directive intended to make sure people were sleeping on a quality, comfortable and supportive mattress. It also fit nicely with the industry’s goal of increasing beddings sales.
But research conducted by the Better Sleep Council, part of the International Sleep Products Association, in 1996 showed that the replacement message was counterproductive.
“The reason: Consumers typically interpreted the guideline to mean they could actually keep their mattress for 15 years or longer,” the editors of BedTimes magazine wrote in a February 1998 article.
In addition, “the research showed that consumers do not know how to determine when a mattress is past its prime and needs to be replaced.”
And thus, the BSC shifted its public relations efforts to focus on prompting consumers to regularly assess their sleep quality and comfort level on their current mattress and equipping them with mattress-buying guidance so they can confidently shop for a new bed.
In 2015, the BSC advises consumers that a number of signs can point to the need for a new set, including:
✦ Your mattress is 5 to 7 years old.
✦ You wake up with stiffness, numbness, aches or pains.
✦ You had a better night’s sleep somewhere other than your own bed (such as a hotel or friend’s guest room).
✦ Your mattress shows signs of overuse (it sags, has lumps, etc.).
Consumers have trusted the BSC as a source of information about mattresses and sleep, in part because of its use of well-known and reliable spokespeople to share its messages.
In 1990, the BSC tapped Dr. Joyce Brothers, a psychologist, syndicated columnist and TV personality, to serve as the face of the BSC and later brought in home management expert and author Deniece Schofield, who was known for her concept of a “Fit Home” and “Fit Bedroom.”
In 2015, two women carry the BSC message: Lissa Coffey, a lifestyle and relationship expert, author and broadcast journalist who serves as BSC spokeswoman; and Terry Cralle, a registered nurse and certified clinical sleep educator who serves specifically as the BSC’s health and wellness spokeswoman.
Since its creation in 1985, “May Is Better Sleep Month” has been the centerpiece of the BSC’s PR strategy, but throughout the year the BSC runs other PR campaigns, often focused on sleep, wellness, women’s issues and relationships—all tied into a mattress message.
The BSC’s year-round effort to educate consumers was made easier with the launch of its website in 1998 and its foray into social media, including Twitter and Facebook, about a decade later.
View this entire special section as it appears in the print magazine: BedTimes November digital edition.
Read previous chapters in the 100-year history of ISPA:
1915-1940: An industry comes together
1941-1965: A time of war, a time for peace
1966-1990: The challenge of change