Today’s stylish power bases offer a range of must-have features, from connectivity to massage, packaged with e-commerce in mind
At each new round of furniture markets, adjustable base makers unveil models with even more problem-solving features and high-tech innovations — and this year will be no exception, manufacturers say.
Beginning with the Winter Las Vegas Market Jan. 26-30, power base producers will offer more smarts — apps, sensors and other technologies — that will allow consumers to operate their beds without remotes, link bases to other appliances in connected homes, and monitor their health and sleeping habits.
Instead of bulking up beds, those innovations and other new features, like whole bed tilt, are being designed into sleek, stylish bases that resemble modern furniture with high-end upholstery, fashionable legs and attractive finishes. Keeping bases light is more critical than ever to meet the demands of both e-commerce retailers that need to ship cheaply and brick-and-mortar retailers that want to offer customers cash-and-carry convenience.
Retailers are helping to drive sales by putting adjustable bases under more mattresses on their showroom floors and pricing mattresses with both flat and power foundations to show that they are an affordable upgrade. Those efforts, plus marketing on the part of both base producers and retailers, have raised awareness of the category to boost routine attachment rates at retail to 30%, 40%, even 50% at many stores. With aggressive sales, some retailers reach attachment rates of 70% or 80%, manufacturers say.
Let’s look more in-depth at some of the biggest trends in this quickly advancing category, starting with new functions and features designed to make adjustable bases must-haves for consumers.
Feature rich and smart
Jay Thompson, president of the Adjustable Bed Group of Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt Inc., says L&P is adding a top model to its Prodigy line in 2020. The Prodigy LBR with Comfort Connect “will be a truly connected bed, offering the user the ability to control home devices and set favorite ‘home scenes’ within the (Amazon) Alexa eco-system.”
“Our proprietary control system takes the memory feature to a new level, allowing the consumer to individualize the home environment by integrating with smart, off-the-shelf devices like door locks, lights and home alarms,” Thompson adds.
L&P has been making adjustable bases for 40 years and its line now includes a wide range of bases — from basic, entry-level models to full-featured, high-end options — with retail prices typically from $599 to $1,999. “While we source materials and finished goods aggressively from low-cost countries, Leggett & Platt’s strength is its robust North American footprint for both manufacturing and distribution,” Thompson says, noting that the company’s other competitive advantages include “short lead times, a broad product offering and competitive price points.”
Reverie, an adjustable base maker in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, sees itself as “a sleep technology company first, so when we think about any product introductions, we want them to be moving forward technologically,” says Lisa Tan, Reverie chief marketing officer. “We pride ourselves on our ability to innovate and provide technological features at every price point, from the entry level to our premium products.”
The company’s eponymous Reverie line contains six models, including the popular R400 with head and foot adjustability and massage at a “velocity price point” of $1,200, Tan says. The step-up R450 HT ($1,499) adds head tilt for people who like to lie in bed and read. The top of the Reverie branded line is the R650, which features 3D Wave massage and an extra motor to provide whole bed tilt ($1,999).
“You can tilt the entire base backward or forward,” Tan says. “It’s a unique experience and a really cool feel, a little like floating in space.”
As part of the trend toward smarter beds, the Reverie Nightstand app allows sleepers to control bases with their smartphones instead of remote controls, and in October, the company started rolling out to retailers Reverie Connect, a voice-activation technology that can be used with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
“We’ve worked with Google to be a Google Skill,” Tan says. “So, instead of saying, ‘Hey, Google, tell my Reverie base to move to zero gravity,’ you can just say, ‘Move bed to zero gravity.’ Or eventually you will be able to set a bedtime skill (in a connected bedroom) so that you can set a bedtime routine and the lights are going to dim, your thermostat will go to 68 degrees and the base’s massage feature will start for 20 minutes — or whatever you want it to do. It’s a technology that allows people to live super comfortable lives that are optimized and run efficiently.”
To get retailer feedback in Vegas this month, Logicdata, which specializes in adjustable bed bases and other motion furniture, will soft launch a new app-enabled sleep sensor that can work in conjunction with its adjustable bases, says Dexter Weber, sales and marketing manager for the company, which is based in Deutschlandsberg, Austria, with U.S. headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Logicdata sensor can detect whether a bed is occupied, if the occupants are active or sleeping, and monitors breathing, heart rate and sleep phases, Weber says. It also provides a rest quality rating on a scale from 0 to 100.
At Logan, Utah-based sleep products maker Malouf, in-house software developers created the Malouf Base smartphone app for iOS and Android that works with the four top models in the company’s seven-model power foundation line. The app allow sleepers to control and program functions without using a remote.
“You can program it to do what you want and it has Siri shortcuts, so, if your partner snoring is a repeated problem, you can say, ‘Hey, Siri, help a girl out’ and the bed will adjust,” says Scott Carr, Malouf marketing director. “Consumers, in general, are expecting more connected experiences and easy access to technology through their phones.” To augment the hands-free Siri Shortcuts and partner control features, at the Winter Las Vegas Market, Malouf will unveil a snore detection feature, which Carr calls “our most innovative addition yet.”
When it comes to its adjustable bases, Malouf tries “to be pretty aggressive on price, but technology is what we spend a lot of our time and energy on,” Carr says.
Malouf’s newest base, introduced in July, is the E255, which features an upholstered frame with wireless remote and three preset positions: zero gravity, anti-snore and flat ($500). “It’s very sleek, foldable for easy shipping and has quite a few upper-end features,” Carr says. The top adjustable in Malouf’s line is the S755 ($2,000). “It’s the granddaddy of them all, with all the bells and whistles,” he says. Those bells and whistles include 12 dual-zone massage options, five preset positions, six programmable positions, Bluetooth compatibility, head tilt and lumbar support.
Customatic Technologies started out more than a decade ago as Customatic Adjustable Bedz but changed its name to better reflect its focus on advanced technologies and customized products.
“We’re constantly pushing the envelope with new technologies,” says Phil Sherman, president of the Natick, Massachusetts-based company. “That’s why we have so many patents. I think people come to us for uniqueness. That’s how we set ourselves apart: being the company that creates better products with higher profit margins.”
The company offers a half-dozen adjustable base styles, but all can be adapted and customized for retailers that want private-label lines, Sherman says. Two popular Customatic models include the Galaxy and FeatherLite. Depending on which features are included, they retail from $499 to $999.
Customatic is exploring artificial intelligence to solve some consumers’ sleep problems and plans soon to launch an anti-snore technology it calls SnoreTech. Without divulging proprietary details, Sherman says SnoreTech monitors biorhythms and automatically elevates the mattress when it detects snoring, all without wearable tech or audio devices.
“It’s something brand new,” Sherman says. “It can automatically adjust to conditions without consumers having to do anything. We find that consumers want their problems solved without effort on their part.”
W. Silver Products offers a full array of features in its Silver and Gold series adjustable bases, with prices starting at $599. At the Winter Las Vegas Market, the company will add a new base to its Gold series. Priced at $1,499, a new top price point, the base will include massage, USB ports, multiple memory functions and neck tilt, says Brent Polunsky, sales manager for the El, Paso, Texas-based company.
WSP, originally a maker of steel bed frames and rails, added adjustables under the Comfort-n-Motion brand to its line several years ago. Initially, the company imported bases but then moved production to Juarez, Mexico. “We build the sub-assemblies, cut foam, cut fabric and do our own testing — load bearing, cycle count testing, etc.,” Polunsky says. “We can turn on a dime. We can walk out into the factory, make a change and start delivery in a week.”
“Retailers should feel comfortable that the base they buy from us has been made by us and tested by us,” he adds. “It’s going to last and we’re going to stand by it.”
They’ve got the look
Manufacturers are packing the many features of their latest adjustable bases into ever sleeker and thinner packages, much like makers of the newest smartphones do. In addition to looking good as standalone foundations, the bases fit neatly into traditional headboard and footboard designs, and appeal to younger consumers who prefer the look of platform bases.
For instance, Reverie’s R550 base features a wood veneer on the lower deck. “It’s a very attractive base if you want to use it without bedroom furniture,” Tan says. The step-up R550L offers additional lumbar support.
“Today, it’s all about making a statement,” Sherman says. “As the paradigm has changed from hospital bed to lifestyle base, the appearance has changed from something antiseptic to something with more design flair.”
Customatic’s Magellan foundation sits upon designer legs and comes with a coordinating headboard and attachable nightstands ($1,299). It’s more than an adjustable base, Sherman says; it’s a fashionable bed. “Part of our design process is thinking, ‘How do we glamorize the adjustable base? How do we make it a fashion statement as opposed to just a functional base?’ ”
Good to go
Every part of the bedding business has been impacted by e-commerce and the rise of direct-to-consumer producers. The adjustable segment is no exception, with manufacturers adding boxed, easily shippable models that can be sold via e-commerce or as a cash-and-carry item through brick-and-mortar retailers.
Logicdata specializes in such bases. “We take a different approach to the (adjustable base) market by focusing on offering high-quality adjustable bases with packaging optimized for shipping,” Weber says. “Our adjustable bases are made to be UPS/FedEx shippable without the need to pay oversize fees. This makes our product perfect for e-retailers and retailers with an online presence, as well as retailers that want to offer adjustable bases that a consumer can take home in their vehicle and set up easily themselves.”
The vertically integrated company produces its own components, including actuators, remotes, control boxes and power supplies, “giving us the advantage of having a complete system where every single piece is made specifically to work perfectly together in a unique design optimized for shipping,” Weber adds.
Logicdata’s SILVER series includes the SILVERstandard and the SILVERlite. The SILVERstandard has “a clean, modern European design” with control features built into the side rails to make room for underbed storage. In addition to head-up and foot-up positioning, it includes USB ports, underbed lighting, memory positions and optional massage among its features. It retails from $1,200 to $1,500.
Logicdata recently launched SILVERlite “with the smallest packaging on the market,” Weber says. Its features include head-up and foot-up adjustability, memory positions and underbed storage ($800 to $1,000). “This adjustable base is ideal for e-commerce customers, as well as customers living in big cities,” Weber says. “The small packaging and ready-to-assemble design make it easy to move up or down stairs, through narrow hallways, into elevators and into smaller apartments.”
Soon, there will be more lightweight, shippable bases on the market.
L&P will roll out several new adjustables during the Winter Las Vegas Market, including the “parcel-friendly” Symmetry collection of ultra-low-profile, platform-friendly bases, Thompson says. “With retail price points well under $1,000,” he says, “we think these models will appeal to furniture stores, sleep shops and e-commerce retailers.”
For its part, WSP will use the Vegas show to launch a well-priced, feature-filled base made to be easily shipped via UPS and FedEx, Polunsky says. Retailing for $599, it will include head and foot adjustability, a zero-gravity feature, flat-position button and a flashlight in the remote.
WSP also will introduce a new line of adjustables made with convenience and portability in mind. The six-legged bases are designed to “fold in half to allow for easier handling in both the consumer’s home and the retailer’s warehouse,” Polunsky says. The three models will retail from $699 to $999.
This month, Customatic plans to debut its New Dawn adjustable base, which the company calls the “lightest full-function adjustable on the market.” As an added feature, it can be customized with textiles that offer anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, as well as improved airflow.
“One of the newest, coolest items we’re doing are the Complete Sleep adjustable mattress and base packaged in one shippable box,” Sherman says. “We thought, ‘If boxed mattresses are successful, why wouldn’t a mattress and adjustable base boxed together do well?’ ” The Complete Sleep package is priced from $799 and $999.
Also coming this year is the Supernal 2, a boxed version of Transfer Master’s adjustable base. (See story on page 41.) “It’s going to be price-sensitive but certainly not the cheapest. It will be reliable and competitively priced for a quality mechanism and bed,” says Aaron Goldsmith, president of Transfer Master, an adjustable base maker headquartered in Postville, Iowa, that specializes in producing beds for the medical market.
When price points fall
As the adjustable category has grown, producers say, they have experienced some of the same frustrations as mattress manufacturers, including growing competition from imports, downward pressure on prices and a commoditization of the category.
“Over time, for some retailers, it has become less and less about the design of the product or the integrity of the product and more about the price,” Sherman says, pointing in particular to the trend of retailers offering “free adjustable base with purchase” to increase their showroom traffic.
“If they want to offer a head-up-only basic base free with mattress purchase, I’m not opposed to it as long as the sales associates are explaining all the things a full-featured adjustable base can do: the underbed lights, the USB ports, the massage, etc.,” Sherman says.
To meet demand for a broader range of price points, Reverie introduced a lower priced line called OSO by Reverie.
“About two years ago, we started seeing an inundation of lower price points hitting the market and we had to get into that segment without sacrificing quality,” Tan says. “The advantage to the lower-priced line is more people can afford to sleep on an adjustable base.”
The starting OSO by Reverie model, the O200, is the type of head-up model that many retailers use as part of their “free base with purchase” promotions, Tan says. The five models in the line step up from there to the top model in the group, O400T, which has head-up and foot-up capabilities, along with programmable positions. Prices for the bases, all of which are foldable and shippable, range from $599 to $999.
Thompson notes that while price points have dropped, many consumers are getting “more for less.” One of L&P’s best-selling power bases is the Simplicity HFM, which comes with a capacitive touch remote, dual charging ports and an 850-pound lift capacity. Another key feature: a “velocity price point below $750,” Thompson says.
“As technology advances and the product category scales, features have improved at a lower cost,” Thompson says. “This has been an important driver of growth, and many retailers have seized the opportunity to embrace the product category that is now more feature-rich and affordable.”
Feature-Filled Bases Can Lead to Healthier Sleep, Better Lives
Although most of today’s adjustable bases no longer look much like their ancestor, the hospital bed, they still offer plenty of health and wellness benefits.
“You can really build value by showing the health benefits of an adjustable base,” says Brent Polunsky, sales manager for W. Silver Products, a base maker headquartered in El Paso, Texas. “I’m always cautious not to say they cure conditions, but they can help.”
Consumers with conditions ranging from sleep apnea to edema to back pain may benefit from features like head and foot adjustability and massage. Meanwhile, newer innovations like whole bed tilt can help athletes who need a post-workout recovery, as well as people who spend time in bed because of serious health issues, says Lisa Tan, chief marketing officer for Reverie, an adjustable base maker in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
A technology like hands-free, voice-activated Reverie Connect paired with a feature-filled base is ideal for people who have limited mobility from conditions such as quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, Tan says. “It’s crucial for them to be able to move and shift positions throughout the night,” she says. “Voice activation with an adjustable base can help people live healthier, better lives.”
Transfer Master Products, an adjustable base maker headquartered in Postville, Iowa, specializes in producing beds for the medical market, particularly for rehab facilities, and uses that expertise to make the Supernal line for retail. Supernal models look less like hospital beds than the company’s core products but still are aimed at baby boomers and consumers of all ages with disabilities or other medical conditions, says Aaron Goldsmith, president of the company.
“With Supernal, we moved the image of our bed from a medical product to a piece of furniture that has accommodations for people with special needs,” he says. “We’ve positioned ourselves to target the baby boomers and people who have obvious health problems,” such as mobility issues that require use of a cane, walker or wheelchair.
“If someone says, ‘I can only sleep in my recliner’ or says, ‘My wife has pulmonary issues, edema or terrible arthritis’ — those are my customers,” Goldsmith adds.
Transfer Master’s Supernal 3 model, best known as the Supernal Hi-Low, lowers and raises to allow people to get in and out of bed more easily. It also features head and foot adjustability, head tilt, variable massage settings, wall hugging capability and a simplified backlit wireless remote for easy nighttime use. The step-up Supernal 5 adds whole bed tilt and reverse tilt. Both models come with optional side rails and vinyl mattress covers.
The Supernal 3 retails for $3,000 in twin size and the Supernal 5 for $4,000 in twin. “I make a living disproving everybody else out there who tells me our beds are too expensive,” Goldsmith says, noting that, as a niche player, his goal is not for his products to take over the floor of every mattress retailer but to be an option for those consumers who can benefit from Transfer Master’s expertise and designs.
“(Our research shows) one out of five people has a disability or takes care of someone with a disability,” Goldsmith says. “For that customer, Supernal is the best option.”