A Tale of Two Replacement Cycles

Demographic differences drive mattress spending, Better Sleep Council research reveals.

True or false? In a 12-year period, Gen Z consumers may actually spend more for mattresses than baby boomers.

Demographic Differences in Mattress Spending account for Gen Z actually spending more for a good night's sleep.

If you said true, you’ve been carefully studying Better Sleep Council research on mattress spending trends by demographics. Good for you.

That research shows that there are important age differences when it comes to mattress replacement times and mattress spending. It turns out that younger consumers just may be more valuable to the industry than their older, more financially well-off counterparts.

Boomers, consumers ages 56 to 77, have decades of earnings under their belts and the means to buy just about any mattress they want. Adult Gen Z consumers, ages 18 to 24, are just getting started on college or careers and their financial resources are much more limited — although they could be getting financial support from their parents.

But there is a key difference between those two demographic groups when it comes to mattress replacement times. Gen Zers are replacing their mattresses about twice as frequently as boomers. And although Gen Z consumers are willing to spend much less on a new mattress than boomers, their higher replacement rate is actually generating more dollars for the industry in the long run than those generated by the older demographic, the BSC research suggests. 

Here’s how the math plays out.

Gen Zers expect to keep a new, quality mattress for a mean of seven years, but their actual replacement cycle is less than that: 6.1 years. Boomers, on the other hand, expect to keep a new, quality mattress for 12.4 years, while their actual replacement cycle is just under that, at 12.3 years, the BSC research reveals.

The BSC also broke out mattress spending by demographic groups. It found that Gen Z consumers are willing to pay $683 for a queen-size mattress or set, far less than the $1,074 that boomers are willing to pay.

If Gen Zers actually pay $683 for their replacement mattress, in 12.2 years they will buy two mattresses and pay a total of $1,366 for them. In that same time period, boomers will buy one mattress and spend $1,074 — or $292 less than their Gen Z counterparts. That is a surprising and significant finding, one that should raise the industry’s appreciation for the power of younger consumers.

Now it is worth noting that what consumers say they are willing to pay may be more than what they actually pay for a mattress. That was true in 2020, when consumers said they were willing to pay $1,119 for a new queen mattress or set but actually paid $1,045. But the opposite happened in 2022, when consumers actually spent more ($997) than they said they were willing to pay ($961).

Still, the great difference in replacement cycles gives Gen Z consumers a decisive edge over boomers when it comes to mattress spending.

Will that edge be eroded over time? Yes, it probably will, the BSC research suggests.

The fact is, as consumers get older, they generally expect mattresses to last longer, and they generally replace their mattresses at slower rates than they did when they were younger. There is only one exception to those trends: Millennials’ actual replacement cycle — 5.7 years — is even shorter than the Gen Z actual replacement cycle of 6.1 years. Otherwise, expected and actual replacement times rise steadily as consumers move into older age groups.

Expected replacement cycle times are Gen Z, seven years; millennials (ages 25 to 40), 7.3 years; Gen X (ages 41 to 55), 9.4 years; and boomers, 12.4 years. And the actual replacement
cycle times are Gen Z, 6.1 years; millennials, 5.7 years; Gen X, 8.4 years; and boomers, 12.3 years.

Those differences are probably a reflection of the greater investment in mattresses consumers make as they get older. And those higher-priced mattresses are probably more durable than the models costing hundreds of dollars less that younger consumers are purchasing. 

Also, younger consumers may be conditioned to replace purchases like cellphones and durable goods more frequently than older consumers.

Whatever the reasons, shorter replacement cycles translate into more frequent mattress purchases. And that brings more dollars to the industry — and more fresh, new mattresses to consumers.

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