Challenges, industry changes offer big opportunities to take a fresh look at business strategies.
So, what does 2023 look like now that we’ve enjoyed a strong Las Vegas Market? Short answer: It’s complicated. We’ll be hearing from everyone from Walt Disney to Peter Keith to Don Wright to give us some guidance on how to approach business this year.
As expected, the bedding industry’s most important market was a big hit, especially in the optimism department. I heard numerous reports from attendees about the upbeat vibe at the show and the feeling that the industry has finally moved past the Covid-19 cloud.
While that surge of optimism is always a nice thing to see at January Las Vegas Markets, I’ve learned over the years not to read too much into it. One good market is not enough to drive business throughout the year. Yes, a good start is encouraging, but so much business remains to be done — and the economy may or may not cooperate. I still worry about a recession this year.
As Walt Disney said: “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” Well said, Walt.
It’s also helpful to hear from Peter Keith, the analyst with New York-based Piper Sandler, who follows publicly held bedding companies and reports on a monthly retail mattress survey that his firm conducts.
His summary of his Las Vegas meetings noted reports of “strong” traffic. He described the mood of 2023 as being “one of cautious optimism as weak sales trends have stabilized and are trending to ‘less bad.’” Hey, we will take “less bad.”
Keith also notes that the mattress sector “has potential to see several seismic shifts in 2023,” with the Serta Simmons Bedding bankruptcy, and talk of a potential retail acquisition by another company.
I’ve heard some angst about how the industry could change this year and what that might mean for producers and retailers alike. Rather than worry about the changes that may or may not be coming, it’s more productive to think about the positive side of the ledger: Seismic shifts could bring seismic opportunities. When the existing order is disrupted, everyone has a new chance to seek position and advantage.
Now let’s hear from Don Wright, the chair and chief strategy officer of Wright Creative Branding & Labels, who shared his thoughts with us last December for BedTimes’ 2023 outlook. Wright said then that he saw challenges in the economy that would persist well into this year. And that led him to offer what he said was the biggest opportunity for the industry this year: “It’s a great time to review everything: product mix, brand messaging, aesthetics and advertising. Focus on the quality of your product, not the price. Focus on providing great sleep because people are not sleeping during these turbulent times.”
That is unquestionably great advice for an industry that faces changes and challenges. Candidly, it can be liberating to look at your business with fresh eyes, to look for new ways to gain traction with consumers, to consider new brand partnerships, to try new advertising strategies. Sometimes we all get locked into thinking the bedding marketplace is rigid and must be approached in set ways for success. Not so.
I also like Wright’s admonition to focus on quality and not price. Quality wins in the long run.
And I especially appreciate his advice to focus on providing great sleep. It’s heartening that recent Better Sleep Council research found that sleep satisfaction scores have risen by five percentage points from 2020 (when Covid-19 fears were prevalent) to 2022. Sixty percent of consumers now say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their sleep.
That’s a nice increase, but there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially since only 21% of consumers say they are very satisfied with the quality of their sleep.
Whatever happens this year, seismic or not, let’s focus on the key deliverable: providing a great night of sleep.