Creature Comforts

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Top of bed could be top of mind as consumers look for ways to stay cozy and clean during and after the coronavirus

Despite the havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic, top-of-bed manufacturers are cautiously optimistic that their products will be among those desired by consumers as the economy slowly reopens.

Several top-of-bed makers saw a spike in orders in mid-March when stay-at-home orders first were issued, with some consumers viewing the unexpected time at home like a snow day: a time to relax and do some online shopping. But it wasn’t long before retailers, supply chains and factories started to shut down, and the overall economy began its precipitous slide. 

Yet makers of mattress and pillow protectors, sheets and other top-of-bed products have reason to be hopeful. To start, people have spent a lot of time (a lot of time!) at home in the past few months and may have a long list of home furnishings and accessories they want to upgrade when they feel financially secure enough to do so. Such cocooning also can make people crave cozy items like super-soft sheets, and anxiety-reducing weighted blankets and CBD-infused linens.

At the same time, with all the handwashing, mask wearing and sanitizing, cleanliness and wellness are top of mind for consumers, which could increase demand for products such as pillow and mattress protectors that are designed to keep bedding fresh and clean. 

When consumers shop, whether in-store or online, they’ll also find high-performance top-of-bed items that wick away moisture and help regulate temperatures, split sheets designed for adjustable bases, and other feature-laden products, all designed to improve their sleep.

Here we’ll look at some new products and top-of-bed trends that BedTimes thinks will be relevant whatever the coming months bring.

A focus on wellness

“A brand, our company is founded on wellness,” says Sarah Bergman, vice president of marketing and creative for Pure-Care, a Phoenix-based maker of sleep accessories. “And now (during the pandemic), we’re seeing people more interested in wellness than ever.”

Founded as a maker of mattress protectors and encasements, PureCare still offers a full line of those products. While many retailers promote the need for a mattress protector to prevent stains, tears or other problems that could void a mattress warranty, PureCare encourages retailers to offer a series of step-up protectors that provide other benefits, too. Its five-sided protectors feature the company’s OmniGuard lightweight performance fabric that doesn’t alter the feel of the mattress, as well as MiteTight seams that protect against allergens, dust mites, stains, moisture, mold and mildew (starting at $99). 

PureCare protectors featuring responsive fabrics include its recovery version, which incorporates Celliant fibers determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to temporarily increase blood flow at the site of application in healthy individuals, improve recovery time from physical activity and promote more restful sleep; and FRiO, the company’s bestselling protector with rapid-chill cooling fibers ($119). Other additions to the line include an aromatherapy version, which incorporates lavender-scented sachets, and, at the high end of the line, ReversaTemp, with cooling FRiO on one side and warming Heatstar insulating fibers on the other ($159). The technologies and features available in PureCare’s mattress protectors also are available in the company’s pillow protectors ($25 to $35 in queen).

“Our responsive, technical textiles aren’t an application. The technology lives at the core of the fibers. It’s not going to wash out of a product,” Bergman says, noting that most of PureCare’s protectors can be washed and dried on hot settings for sanitization. 

PureCare’s sheet collections are organized similarly to its protectors, with core features such as Precision-Fit corners and a 1-inch elastic cuff for secure fitted sheets and enveloping pillowcases in all of its offerings, and then functional performance characteristics added to provide clearly differentiated step-ups. The company’s cool-to-the-touch Tencel sheet set ($199) is a best-seller, Bergman says.

In January, PureCare unveiled its first 100% Supima cotton sheets as part of its premium Elements sheeting line. At $299 for a queen set, the sheets, made of extra-long-staple cotton grown and harvested exclusively in the Southwest United States, represent the top end of the PureCare sheet line. “People who love cotton, love cotton,” Bergman says. “They don’t want anything else, and these Supima sheets are of a quality that can’t be beat.”

An expanding accessories line

When it comes to sleep accessories, Logan, Utah-based Malouf strives to be a one-stop shop for bedding retailers, offering everything from adjustable bases to sheets to pillows. 

“Several of our competitors might be great in protectors but don’t play in sheets or vice versa,” says Scott Carr, marketing director for Malouf. “But we play in every category, so consumers can pair a Malouf protector with a Malouf sheet set and a Malouf pillow.” 

One of the company’s most successful recent top-of-bed launches has been its Anchor weighted blankets, Carr says. Many consumers find the heft of such blankets comforting and their use may improve sleep by lessening tossing and turning. Malouf’s version, with glass beads inside and washable outer covers, originally was available in queen and throw sizes in 12-pound, 15-pound and 20-pound weights. The company recently added a petite size in a 5-pound weight. A 12-pound queen-size Anchor blanket retails for $339. (Listed Malouf prices are from the company’s website; its retailers often sell items for less, Carr says.)

“The weighted blankets have been a No. 1 selling item for two years,” he says. “And especially at a time like now when people are experiencing a lot of anxiety, they are a nice item to have on hand.”

When it comes to sheets, the company’s best-selling product is its rayon from bamboo set ($207). “It meets consumer demand for more eco-friendly, sustainable products and has the added benefit of being super soft and more breathable than cotton,” Carr says. The company recently started making its bamboo sheets in split-queen and split-king versions.

“We’re continually trying to improve and to listen to retailer feedback,” Carr says. 

Malouf offers a full range of mattress protectors and encasements. A perennial bestseller is its Five 5ided mattress protector with Tencel fibers for a soft feel and Omniphase material for temperature regulation ($143). As with its bamboo sheets, the company has added split-head options to its Omniphase protectors. The Five 5ided IceTech mattress protector with cooling fabric also is popular ($279), Carr says.

Before the pandemic, Malouf saw an increase in retailers seeking private-label products to distinguish themselves from competitors, as well as greater need for quality entry-level products, a trend the company expects to continue, particularly given the slow economy, Carr says. 

An emphasis on performance

Not surprising for a company founded by two former athletes, SHEEX focuses on performance fabrics. 

“I was a Division 1 basketball coach and experienced the evolution of athletic wear. When I started, everyone wore cotton T-shirts that we had to change out of halfway through practice. Then they started creating performance fabrics,” recalls Susan Walvius, who co-founded the company with Michelle Marciniak, her former assistant coach. Walvius fell in love with one of those moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating fabrics and decided she wanted sheets with those same characteristics.

The company, headquartered in Marlton, New Jersey, began as a sheet company but now offers a variety of sleep accessories, including pillows, mattress pads and toppers, as well as sleepwear. It recently introduced a mattress line. “Now we’re in every layer of the bedding system, so that everything works together for temperature regulation and better quality sleep,” Walvius says.

The company’s Original Performance line remains its bestselling sheet set ($250). “It’s a problem solver that’s very unique,” she says. “It’s super soft, with a tight circular knit that still allows for superior airflow. It breathes about seven times better than a typical woven, and has a good stretch for thicker mattresses or adjustable bases. It’s a true performance product.” The company’s sheet line also includes Artic Aire-Max, combining CoolX technology with Tencel’s silky, cooling Lyocell fiber; and EcoSHEEX, made with 100% viscose from bamboo ($179).

The company’s latest sheet is “a super-silky nylon that’s cool to the touch,” which will represent a top price point for the company. Also new is the company’s Performance Studio-Tech bedding set, a European-style bundle with duvet cover, fitted sheet, two pillowcases and two pillow shams, but no top sheet ($299). “We’re seeing real growth in that product,” Walvius says. 

For these anxious times, SHEEX also offers the Calm + Cool blanket in a 15-pound weight with a removable, washable brushed-texture fabric cover ($299). “This deep-touch pressure is scientifically proven to stimulate the release of serotonin and melatonin, reducing stress and encouraging relaxation and comfort,” according to the company. 

To help its customers avoid trips to the post office during the pandemic, the company has extended its 30-night product guarantee to 90 nights, Walvius says.

Meeting consumers’ demands

Soft-Tex International rolled out several new sleep products collections this spring. The lines originally were set to debut at the New York Home Fashions Market in March, which was canceled because of the pandemic. Instead, the company held virtual market meetings with customers, says Taylor Jones, Soft-Tex vice president of marketing. The company, based in Waterford, New York, manufactures its own brands (such as SensorPedic, BioPedic and SensorGel), holds licenses from several companies (such as Restonic and Therapedic) and also creates private-label programs.

With its spring product launches, Soft-Tex tapped into a number of consumer trends, including interest in wellness and beauty, CBD oil and cooling. For instance, in its Nature’s Technology collection designed to keep sleeping environments fresh and clean, Soft-Tex added a natural linseed oil derivative for its antimicrobial properties, as well as a microencapsulated probiotic to eliminate allergens like pet dander. 

The company’s new Aqua+ collection features skin-improving microencapsulated hyaluronic acid, an ingredient usually used in beauty products. “You spend one-third of your life sleeping, so these products allow you to enhance your beauty while you sleep,” Jones says. The technology is available in pillows, mattress pads and mattress protectors and also as a gift set with a travel pillow and eye mask that retails for $25. 

For consumers interested in the relaxation and sleep-inducing properties of CBD oil, Soft-Tex has extended its line of CBD-infused accessories following the launch of a pillow in 2019. Added this spring were a protector ($99) and sheet set made with a cotton-hemp blend fabric and microencapsulated CBD oil ($199).

Consumer interest in temperature-regulating products hasn’t cooled, and Soft-Tex has unveiled a collection of cooling top-of-bed accessories using Reactex technology. “Reactex is pressure sensitive and moves heat away from you,” Jones says. “It starts cooling in as little as eight seconds and cools for up to eight hours and then self-recharges so it’s ready by the time you go to sleep again.” The product first is available at major department stores and big boxes under brands such as Epic Chill and Artic Chill and later will be available to other retail partners. A mattress protector featuring Reactex retails for about $199 in queen.

Solving problems

Cadence Keen Innovations, which operates as CKI Solutions, has long had a diversified product lineup and marketing strategy, but two of its key customer bases are hotels and cruise ships, both hit hard by stay-at-home orders that kept people from traveling when the pandemic struck. So, CKI shifted gears to meet new demands, for instance, producing encasements for hospitals.

CKI’s flexibility is nothing new, says Steven Gordon, president of the company, which has headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida: “We’re not a one-trick pony.” 

When it comes to its product lineup, “everything CKI makes is a solution to a problem,” Gordon says. 

That includes the company’s top-of-bed offerings. CKI’s Regency Cloud mattress topper originally was developed to alleviate bed sores in hospitals but now can be used by consumers to extend the life of a mattress or make a more comfortable night’s sleep ($125). The topper has a polyester cluster fiber fill that won’t lose loft or migrate inside the cover, Gordon says. An Eco Cloud version uses the same fill but features a knit top with rayon from bamboo for added softness ($175). Both toppers are washable.

Gordon sees potential for some of CKI’s products, such as its Sleep Defender pillow encasement, to increase in popularity in the consumer market because of growing concerns about maintaining a sanitary home. “If a pillow is new, nothing will penetrate the encasement to get into the pillow, and if you use it on an older pillow, nothing will escape it to get to the sleeper,” Gordon says. The company also is one of the few that offers encasements for sleeper sofa mattresses. 

Going forward, Gordon believes “people are going to be more conscious about their health.” “This pandemic is a sobering experience, and people are going to look at how they live their lives,” he says. “Part of that will be recognizing the importance of quality sleep for their health. I think when we come out of this, business will boom and people will be looking for products that give them a good night’s sleep.”

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