BSC Research Draws Attention

ISPA’s Sustainability Conference highlights a topic of growing interest.

The International Sleep Products Association’s Sustainability Conference held in packed conference quarters last fall in Charlotte, North Carolina, was a rousing success. Almost 200 attendees — a who’s who gathering that represented some of the largest companies in our industry — paid close attention to a full day of presentations and panels.

ISPA Sustain Work Session

I was struck by the high level of engagement between the audience and the speakers. Sustainability is clearly a topic on the minds of industry leaders. That was evident in the thoughtful questions posed to speakers.

And picking up on that interactive spirit, our wrap-up presenter, Dr. Andrew Dent, shelved his prepared presentation in favor of a dialogue with the audience.

I was also impressed by some of the callouts that speakers made to important new sustainability research conducted by the Better Sleep Council. The speakers identified three key points in the research:

  • It is very important for Gen Z consumers (ages 18–24) and millennials (ages 25–40) to purchase products from companies that use environmentally sustainable practices or materials.
  • Those same consumer groups are willing to pay more for a mattress that is manufactured using environmentally sustainable practices or materials than are older consumers.
  • Overall, about two-thirds of consumers say they would pay from 1% more to greater than 20% more for a mattress made using environmentally sustainable practices or materials.

That last point caught the attention of a major mattress retailer in the audience, who wanted to know if the data provided specifics on what prices consumers would pay for more sustainable mattresses.

ISPA, which hosted the Sustainability Conference, will conduct additional consumer surveys to develop more information on consumers’ willingness to pay more for more sustainable mattresses to shed more light on this topic, ISPA President Ryan Trainer said at the conference.

The pricing data from the most recent survey is eye-catching. It found that nearly four in 10 consumers say they are willing to pay up to an additional 10% above the mattress price for a mattress manufactured using sustainable practices or materials. Another two in 10 consumers would pay from 11% more to 20% more for such a mattress, and 5% of consumers would pay greater than 20% more for that mattress.

There is a concern in the industry that consumers won’t pay significantly more for a mattress manufactured using sustainable practices or materials. In fact, the BSC research found that the most common concern consumers have about a mattress manufactured sustainably is that it would cost too much.

But that concern is offset, I think, by the majority of consumers who say they would pay more for a sustainable mattress. Only about one in three consumers — 36% — said they would not pay any more for a sustainable mattress. But that leaves a major upside for the industry — the 64% of consumers who are willing to pay more.

The demographic breakdowns here are revealing. While 80% of Gen Z consumers and 76% of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable mattresses, that figure falls to 60% for Gen X consumers (ages 41-55), and it drops to 52% for boomers (ages 56 and older).

As one of the conference speakers noted, it’s a good idea to plan your business around what is happening tomorrow. For the bedding industry, Gen Z and millennials represent tomorrow’s business.

Older consumers aren’t as interested in sustainability issues as younger consumers. But those older consumers won’t be making nearly as many mattress purchasers as younger consumers, who have decades of mattress-buying ahead of them.

The BSC’s sustainability research provides a roadmap for action. Savvy producers and marketers will want to target younger consumers with their sustainability messages. As those younger consumers grow older and boost their earnings, their support for sustainable mattresses will be even more important to the industry. That looks to be a bright tomorrow.

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