Manufacturer refreshes its branding and its line of high-quality, pampering sleep products
Much like the sleep experience the company promises to deliver with its line of European-engineered foam pillows and mattresses, 2018 has been a transformative and rejuvenating year for Blu Sleep.
The kickoff to this year of change was the Winter Las Vegas Market last January. That’s when the Pompano Beach, Florida-based company rolled out an ambitious brand repositioning that has touched virtually every aspect of its business. The result of a comprehensive brand audit, Blu Sleep’s repositioning has included a realignment of the company’s product line, a redesign of its flagship showroom in Las Vegas, a refresh of its website and a host of other updates aimed at strengthening the company’s competitive position.
“It was time for a complete makeover that highlights the new ethos for our brand,” says Vice President Elizabeth Dell’Accio, who co-founded Blu Sleep with her husband, Alex Ciccolella, in 2006. “Blu Sleep sources the finest and healthiest sleep products from around the world to deliver a personalized, pampering experience to consumers that results in a restorative and refreshing night’s sleep. With our evolution, we’ve taken a close look at every aspect of our brand to make sure that message comes through loud and clear.”
Designed to emphasize the spalike feeling consumers can experience each night on Blu Sleep mattresses and pillows, the new branding focuses on the company’s innovative technologies and features, as well as the role that sleep plays in beauty and wellness. The starting point for the new identity is a redesigned logo that pays homage to Italy, where some of Blu Sleep’s foam is produced. The logo features a fresh blue hue that represents the vibrant sea water of southern Italy; the stylized “b” of the insignia is intended to evoke — when viewed from the side — the shape of a plush mattress and pillow.
The new logo works together with Blu Sleep’s updated point-of-purchase materials and packaging to highlight the company’s construction and materials, such as water-expanded foam, essential oils and cool, breathable fabrics, according to Dell’Accio. “The simplified narrative on the POP and packaging underscores our innovative technologies, and it also tells a visual story to which consumers can emotionally connect,” she says.
To showcase its latest products and updated merchandising materials, Blu Sleep debuted a spa-inspired World Market Center showroom design in Las Vegas last January. Washed in crisp white, the showroom has an airy, relaxed feeling that makes it a perfect backdrop for the company’s brightly colored pillows and eye-catching merchandising materials.
“Retailers loved our new showroom look,” Dell’Accio says. “They found it inviting and inspiring, and many of them have said they want to use elements from the space in their own stores.”
The company is known for the distinctive colors of its foams, which it uses to draw the consumer’s eye and differentiate its models on store floors. “Color is very important to us,” Dell’Accio says. “Consumers are wowed by our colors, and it makes them want to pick up our pillows and find out more.” The hues Blu Sleep uses often have a direct tie to product features. For instance, Dell’Accio says, a green tone is used to denote the use of aloe vera oil in the Bio Aloe pillow.
Simpler and easier to sell
As part of the rebranding initiative, Blu Sleep also made major changes to its product lineup. For starters, the company realigned the mattress side of its business to make the assortment easier for retail sales associates to understand — and sell. Instead of multiple collections of mattresses with a wide array of options, the Blu Sleep line now consists of one core collection of boxed mattresses designed to coordinate with its Nature collection of pillows.
The Nature mattress collection features five models — Bio Aloe Firm Extra, Vitality Firm, Cool Blu Perfect Plush, Ice Gel Firm and Aqua Gel Plush. Each of the models features proprietary Air Pod Technology, a 7-inch base layer of U.S.-made, high-density specialty foam with zoned support to increase airflow for cooling and reduce pressure points and motion transfer. Depending on the model, beds also feature additional comfort and transition layers of Italian-made memory foam, high-density synthetic latex, gel-infused memory foam or Aqua Gel foam for enhanced breathability. According to the company, the mattresses also feature high-quality foams with higher-than-usual weights so beds will bounce back quickly and fully after being compressed. The beds are priced to retail from $1,749 to $2,199 for a queen-size model.
The new mattresses correspond with Blu Sleep’s four-model Nature pillow collection, providing a coordinated sleep experience for consumers and a streamlined sales process for RSAs.
Nature pillows, available in four profiles, feature high breathability, luxury feels and infused oils, such as aloe and soy. They retail for $119 in queen.
“Our retail partners had requested a collection of mattresses that matches our pillow selection for a simpler sale proposition,” Dell’Accio says. “The right combination of pillow and mattress can definitely enhance the sleep experience, and our Nature collection mattresses coordinate perfectly with our popular pillow line.”
The Nature mattress collection represents Blu Sleep’s entry into the boxed-bed category. All of the mattresses can be drop shipped, a feature requested by many of Blu Sleep’s brick-and-mortar retailers, Dell’Accio says. In addition, the collection enables the company to address the growing e-commerce sales channel.
The growth in online retailing “cannot be ignored and it is key that Blu Sleep adapts to be part of that distribution channel,” says Ciccolella, company president. “These mattresses maintain our brand promise and quality while providing easy-to-ship practicality.”
The collection also gives Blu Sleep’s retail partners the opportunity to warehouse the product for those consumers interested in cash-and-carry options.
Blu Sleep also has expanded its sleep accessories line with a new collection of pillows infused with essential oils. Designed with water-expanded memory foam for extra softness, the Essential collection includes five pillows — Calm, Soothe, Elevate, Restore and Refresh — infused with chamomile, lavender, citrus, eucalyptus or green tea oils that deliver soothing aromas during sleep. The pillows are designed to retail as low as $79.
In addition, the company brought out two collections of protectors for mattresses and pillows made with high-tech fabrics that help regulate temperature and moisture. Silver is treated with Silver Tech, an anti-odor, anti-microbial and dust mite-resistant finish. Arctic features a fabric with cooling technology that also wicks away moisture and resists water.
“Our new line of sleep accessories gives retailers the opportunity to tap into those all-important add-on sales when consumers purchase a new mattress or pillow,” Dell’Accio says. “These accessories help retailers offer a true one-stop shopping convenience.”
Expanding retail partnerships
To help get the word out about its new brand identity and product offerings, Blu Sleep recently expanded its sales and marketing team. Now leading the company’s sales efforts is Vince Bryant, a 30-year sleep products industry veteran, who was named national sales manager in the fall of 2017. It’s a new position for the company. Bryant had been national sales manager for Technogel Sleeping. He also has held sales posts with FXI, Classic Brands, Tempur Sealy International Inc. and Kingsdown.
“Vince has been a strong addition to our team,” Dell’Accio says. “His relationships with key retailers have been an important element in our recent growth.”
During the past several years, Blu Sleep has been enjoying steady 10% growth, according to Dell’Accio. The company sells its beds and pillows through a wide range of retailers — from specialty bedding shops and small, independent furniture stores to large retailers and major online merchants. Currently, pillows account for the bulk of the company’s sales. But, with the launch of the new bed line, mattresses are expected to account for a much larger share going forward.
“This year’s introductions and changes have been very well-received, and we’re seeing a lot of new interest in our mattresses,” Dell’Accio says, adding that the company also has expanded its team of sales representatives to better serve new customers.
“We’ve signed on a number of new accounts, including a lot of small and medium-sized accounts,” Dell’Accio says. The company also has become a vendor partner with the Nationwide Marketing Group, a relationship that has extended its reach.
“Independent retailers are always looking for quality products that are different from what everyone else has,” Dell’Accio says. “With our line, they can sell a higher-end product at an affordable price and still make a very attractive profit margin.”
In the past five years, Blu Sleep has stepped up its presence in the U.S. market. The company initially was based in Laval, Quebec, where Dell’Accio and Ciccolella began operations in 2006 by supplying foam components to bedding manufacturers in Canada. The couple saw a void in the market for quality pillows and soon expanded their company’s offerings to include a few private-label models introduced at the High Point Market. From there, the line grew to include a complete assortment of pillows, with Ciccolella, a biochemist, handling sourcing and production, and Dell’Accio managing the marketing side of the business.
In 2014, about the same time the company expanded its line to include mattresses, Blu Sleep opened a U.S. distribution center, warehouse and assembly plant in Pompano Beach, Florida. The new facility helped the company overcome resistance from U.S. retailers “who were concerned about shipping time and cross-border delays,” Ciccolella says. Today, Blu Sleep’s headquarters are at the Pompano Beach site; the Laval facility houses cut-and-sew operations and warehouses product for the Canadian market. All of the fabrics used on Blu Sleep’s products are sourced from Canadian mills.
“Innovation from within”
For most of its comfort and transition layer foams, Blu Sleep relies on a select group of Italian facilities, each with its own particular strengths and capabilities. Foam formulas are developed in close partnership with Ciccolella and his team, who design Blu Sleep’s products to meet specific performance, health and aesthetic criteria.
“Our innovation begins from within,” Dell’Accio says. “Our highly breathable foam and covers work closely together to provide the coolest and most comfortable night’s sleep.”
The open-cell nature of Blu Sleep’s foam designs results in a level of breathability significantly higher than that of conventional memory foam, Dell’Accio says, adding, “When you squeeze our pillows, you can feel the air flow through.”
In the company’s mattresses, the Air Pod base layer features air channels that run left to right and head to toe. The design helps dissipate any built-up heat and humidity, according to Dell’Accio, so that “sleepers enjoy that same feel and comfort throughout the night, regardless of temperature.”
The health aspect of Blu Sleep’s products and production processes is another important element in the company’s market positioning. Blu Sleep conducts independent testing of all its foams through the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and CertiPUR-US programs. “Our collections represent our vision to go beyond a good night’s rest,” Dell’Accio says. “With our manufacturing processes and our finished products, we do everything we can to make our products as healthy and low-impact to the environment as possible.”
Establishing a clear identity in today’s highly competitive sleep products arena is an ongoing challenge, Dell’Accio acknowledges. “There are so many brands to choose from, so it’s important that we communicate what we have and why we’re different,” she says. “The healthy nature of our products is part of that message, and so is the way our pillows and mattresses feel.”
Scent also plays a role because the infused oils in its Nature and Essential pillow collections provide an enticing aroma that adds to the feeling of comfort and relaxation. “Sleeping on our products is like a daily trip to the spa, where all the senses are coddled and nurtured,” she says.
To make the most of every sales prospect, Blu Sleep intends to keep supporting its retailers with ongoing sales training and other initiatives. The company has an active training program, and its sales representatives work closely with retailers and RSAs, passing along insights on the latest sales techniques, effective advertising and marketing messages, and in-store display trends.
“Their success is our success,” Dell’Accio says. “The retail market is changing rapidly, and we want to do everything we can to help our retailers succeed.”
This spirit of cooperation is part of Blu Sleep’s DNA. Since adding its Florida facility, the company has begun offering next-day shipping across its entire line so retailers can keep their own inventories to a minimum. With its emphasis on quality materials and construction, the company also works hard to eliminate returns. The current rate of returns is less than 1%, says Dell’Accio, adding that “once a sale is made, our consumers remain satisfied and likely to return to the store again for a future purchase.”
Going forward, Blu Sleep expects to build on the core elements that have led to its current success. At the upcoming Winter Las Vegas Market Jan. 27-31, 2019, the company will add a few new models to the new Essential collection — “and we’ll also be continuing to work with retailers on new ways to promote and strengthen our brand,” Dell’Accio says.