Insights Into the Mattress Buyer’s Journey

New research from the Better Sleep Council suggests that how consumers shop for a mattress may affect how well they sleep 

While one-touch, in-the-moment online shopping may be all the rage, new research from the Better Sleep Council, the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, indicates that people who go “old school” are more likely to sleep better — at least when it comes to shopping for a mattress.

The research, conducted in late 2019 by the BSC, found that people who were more deliberate in their search, who took the time to visit brick-and-mortar retailers and who used multiple sources of information were more satisfied with their purchase and enjoyed a better night’s sleep as a result.

The research showed clear correlation between shopping behaviors and purchase satisfaction, as well as quality of sleep after the purchase.

The BSC conducted the nationwide survey among more than 1,500 mattress buyers to find out how they went about selecting and buying their most recent mattress. The study asked people to re-create their buying journeys step by step to gain insight into how people today go about shopping for a better night’s sleep. The research looked at differences by age, gender, income and other demographic variables. It also assessed the emotions people experienced during their shopping journey to determine how they felt about shopping and their interactions with the bedding industry.

Not surprisingly, the study found significant differences in shopping behaviors among various age groups. For example, younger people took less time to shop, were more likely to use social media in their journey and made the purchase online. Older shoppers were more likely to visit retailers and made the purchase at a brick-and-mortar location.

Satisfied vs. unsatisfied

But intriguingly, the study also compared the shopping patterns of people who were very satisfied with their purchase with those who were not satisfied. And the research showed clear correlation between shopping behaviors and purchase satisfaction, as well as quality of sleep after the purchase.

“As an industry group, we’ve always tried to advise people on what steps they should take when shopping for a mattress,” said Mary Helen Rogers, ISPA vice president for marketing and communications. “Now, we have clear evidence that how people shop can affect how they sleep, and that taking the time to do the research and visit retailers will increase the likelihood they will be happy with their mattress purchase.”

Rogers noted several shopping behaviors that people who slept better and were very satisfied with their mattress typically engaged in. Satisfied shoppers were more likely to:

  • Take time to gather information from multiple sources during their journey — including visiting manufacturers’ websites and retail stores in person. They also paid attention to in-store displays to learn more about the mattresses they were considering.
  • Gather lots of information — on everything from materials to warranties — before making their final selection. They also considered more mattresses and compared/contrasted several mattresses before buying.
  • Did their homework even before shopping. Satisfied buyers said they felt knowledgeable about brands, sizes, prices and where to buy before they even started their shopping journey.

All that effort paid off for these consumers. Not only were they more satisfied with their purchase, they also were much more likely to have enjoyed the shopping experience, reporting positive emotions throughout their journey. And, they were more likely to be satisfied with the sleep they’re now getting with their mattress.

By contrast, people who were not satisfied with their mattress purchase took shortcuts along their journey. They felt less informed before they started shopping and did little to address that during their process. They tended not to seek advice or information from peers or to visit either retailers’ or manufacturers’ websites. While they often considered several different mattresses before purchasing, the unsatisfied mattress shopper had less knowledge with which to make an informed decision. They also were less likely to have purchased their mattress in a brick-and-mortar store. 

Not surprisingly, mattress shoppers who did little research were less likely to be happy with their purchase. But they also reported that they did not enjoy the shopping experience — even considering the shortcuts they took. And they reported being less satisfied with the quality of sleep they are getting with their new mattress.

Shopping trends

Beyond exploring different shopping behaviors between satisfied and unsatisfied mattress buyers, the study uncovered a number of other shopping trends. For example, while most people completed their purchase journey in four weeks or less, almost one-quarter of shoppers took more than a month to do their research. One-third said they took breaks, spending one or more weeks not actively doing research or shopping.

Two-thirds of mattress buyers started their journey because of issues with their existing mattress. These issues were split almost evenly among its age, sagging or just not providing a good night’s sleep. The vast majority of people (84%) reported doing some research before making a purchase, although the length of time spent and the range of information gathered varied widely. The focus of their research also varied likely based, in part, on how knowledgeable different people felt on various purchase considerations. For example, 72% of buyers felt knowledgeable about mattress sizes, and one-half knew where they could buy mattresses. However, less than 40% of buyers understood prices, types of mattresses, brands, or mattress features and technologies. 

This may help explain why most people, including the most satisfied buyers, spent considerable time doing their research, with a majority visiting retailers, looking for information online, and reading reviews or talking to peers. On average, mattress buyers used more than three different sources of information in making their final purchase decisions. And they came away from their journey feeling much better informed about mattress types, prices for new mattresses and new mattress technologies/features before they made their final purchase decisions. More than two-thirds of buyers said they ended up making their purchase in a brick-and-mortar store at the end of their shopping journey.

And while some critics have complained very publicly in the past about their personal experiences when shopping for a mattress, a full three-quarters of people taking this survey said they were happy with their most recent mattress shopping experience. 

More to come

According to Rogers, the data and insights collected from this study will inform a number of BSC 2020 initiatives and serve as a resource for understanding mattress buyers for members of the bedding industry.

“Among other things, we will be creating journey maps to visualize these shopper paths, updating the Better Bed Quizzz with new information from the research and using findings from it for a variety of content,” Rogers said. “We believe this data can be mined in all kinds of ways to help the industry understand today’s buyers and how we can engage them more effectively.”

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