Some bedding manufacturers are reacting to the industry’s revamped 2021 market calendar by embarking on their own initiatives to introduce new lines.
The Winter Las Vegas Market, traditionally the industry’s launching pad in late January for new product lines, has been moved to April 11-15 because of Covid-19 concerns, and that has several bedding producers reassessing their introduction plans.
Virtual introductions are gaining ground and could become a regular feature for new product rollouts, some bedding observers say.
Mattress-licensing group Therapedic International already has begun introducing its 2021 lines with virtual showroom tours of its Las Vegas showroom, which now features the company’s new lines.
Atlanta-based mattress major Serta Simmons Bedding LLC, which left the Las Vegas Market last year, used a virtual trade show in the fall to introduce its 2021 lines and said they already are getting good retail reactions.
Manufacturer King Koil is introducing its new lines at private showings at its Phoenix-area manufacturing facility and showroom in February. The Avondale, Arizona-based company noted that currently it is planning to attend the Las Vegas Market in April.
Licensing group Spring Air International, based in Woburn, Massachusetts, meanwhile, said it is abandoning traditional market timing for its introductions and will instead show new products when its retailers want them.
“The industry as a whole has gotten stuck in the cycle of introducing new products every six months as part of the need to feed an unrealistic and unnecessary trade show calendar,” said Nick Bates, president of Spring Air. “The truth is that retail — even in the best of economic times — can’t flow that amount of new product through the system successfully and select the new styles that will resonate with consumers before another market date comes along.”
“Our retail partners and licensees are working hard to keep up with the tremendous demand they have for existing products,” he continued. “We saw this recovery begin in the spring and believe it will carry over well into 2021. Our partners need to focus on meeting consumer needs, not resetting the table with a new lineup of product.”
Instead of introducing product every six months, Spring Air will work closely with retailers to meet their marketing and product needs on a timetable that is more tailored to each retailer’s specific needs, the company said.
Last August, Spring Air did not open its Las Vegas Market showroom because of Covid concerns and its belief that few retailers would attend. The company said skipping the show did not hurt its business but did yield a benefit — a cost savings to Spring Air.
“The products we have in the marketplace now are already doing well,” Bates said. “We’re saying, ‘Let’s focus on supporting our retailers by increasing our manufacturing capacity so we can keep up with consumer demand rather than focusing our attention elsewhere.’ Our broad product portfolio has been strategically designed to meet what just about any consumer wants in a mattress — at a variety of price points — so why compete against ourselves by introducing something new so quickly?”
While King Koil is introducing its new lines at its Phoenix-area factory in February, King Koil Chief Executive Officer David Binke said the company currently is planning to attend the April market “based on retailers participating.” But he has concerns about that market.
“Many of our retail partners must have their new product decisions made in time for Memorial Day and waiting for a Las Vegas Market that may or may not occur in April will be too late for their planning,” Binke said. “Even if there is a market, some retailers may not even come because they are uncomfortable in a setting with large numbers of people.”
King Koil’s open houses “enable us to curate individual retailer tours of the plant and presentations of product in our showroom that address their specific needs,” Binke said.
Licensing group Restonic has created a virtual showroom to showcase its new Scott Living and Luxury Biltmore lines, said Julia Rosien, vice president of brand and digital marketing. Restonic also is planning to show those lines in April at the Las Vegas Market.
Independent manufacturer Diamond Mattress is launching two new lines at the April market, “and we are also exploring ways to present our new and existing lines virtually for customers who will not be able to attend,” said Shaun Pennington, president.
On a similar note, luxury producer Shifman Mattresses is introducing its updated American Heritage line at the April Las Vegas Market but also will be holding a virtual product tour in mid-February.
Bryan Smith, CEO of mattress maker Southerland Inc., said his company is planning to introduce its new lines at the Summer Las Vegas Market, which has moved from July to August 22-26 this year.
“At this point, we do not believe the April market will be well attended,” Smith said. “We do believe it will be regional and that local retailers from Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Nevada will attend; therefore, we will open the showroom with our local sales staff.”
New lines introduced by SSB last fall will start shipping in February and March, the company said.
“We will be fully floored and merchandised by May 1 to take advantage of the key holidays starting with Memorial Day,” said Melanie Huet, SSB’s chief marketing officer. “I’m not sure what the competition will do since the market was pushed back. We do expect to be a step ahead given our push now.”
SSB’s new Serta Perfect Sleeper and Beautyrest Harmony lines “are getting strong, positive responses from retailers,” she said. “They are step change improvements over our previous collections. In particular, Serta Perfect Sleeper has buyers excited. It was said by one chief merchant that this is the best Serta Perfect Sleeper line he has seen in seven years.”
Symbol Mattress is introducing its 2021 Tommie Copper and Luuf lines now and will show its new SleepFresh line in February. It plans to introduce its J Beckon line in March and April.
“Our plan is to attend the April market with a limited crew and to show our new lines,” said Mike McQuiston, Symbol’s president. “Some virtual elements will be blended in for our introductions.”
Manufacturer and licensing group Eclipse International, which plans to introduce its new Millbrook Beds collection, a United Kingdom brand, will attend the April Las Vegas Market. “I’m not sure how many of us will attend,” said Stuart Carlitz, CEO of the North Brunswick, New Jersey-based company, “but we’ll be there.”
Therapedic, based in Princeton, New Jersey, already is taking its Las Vegas showroom to its retailers, thanks to a film shoot in the showroom, CEO Gerry Borreggine said.
Many dealers haven’t freshened their assortments since the pandemic hit last year, he said, and are interested in seeing new bedding lines.
“They can’t wait until April to see new goods,” Borreggine said. “That would mean new merchandise won’t be hitting their floors until the summer. That’s too long for them to wait.”
Therapedic is sending a live link to its dealers, and any prospects who request it. If any of those retailers see items they like, the local Therapedic factory will arrange for the dealer to see the goods in person, either by bringing them to their factory or by having the sample goods shipped to their store or warehouse, the company said.