The company focuses on better components and brick-and-mortar retailers to serve ultra-high-end shoppers. No e-commerce or DTC strategy for this brand.
Nearly a decade ago, Kurt Ling and Steve Baumberger believed they could build a better luxury bed. But before taking the plunge into the high-end mattress business, the future co-founders of Posh + Lavish did their homework.
Drawing on their own experience in the industry, they began a critical analysis of the global high-end mattress market. One of the first things they noticed was a disparity between what constituted a luxury sleep experience in the United States versus the rest of the world.
“We saw ultra-luxury mattresses from around the world designed with completely different materials than their mainstream counterparts,” Ling says. “In many parts of the world, a $10,000 mattress was not made with the same types of materials as a $1,000 mattress. But in the United States, the same materials are in both, with the luxury version simply being a taller, more heavily tufted, softer mattress.”
They wanted to create a luxury bedding brand that would not only compete with established companies but also capture the loyalty of the discerning consumer. The key, they
believed, would be to create a product that truly stood out from everything else on the market. That goal led them to launch Posh + Lavish in 2015.
“Better vs. more”
As part of their research, Posh + Lavish’s team reached out to high-end consumers to learn more about what they want and how they shop. They learned that many of those consumers don’t see much of a difference between a $2,000, $6,000 or $10,000 mattress. Those shoppers aren’t as interested in purchasing a bed online and, while they appreciate natural materials, an organic label doesn’t necessarily drive them to buy a mattress.
“One of my favorite lines from our consumer research was ‘Honey, I don’t wear Birkenstocks. I am an Italian leather stiletto kind of girl,’” Ling says.
Armed with this knowledge, Ling and Baumberger set out to build a better high-end bed. To do that, they looked at disruptors in other industries as examples of how to set
Posh + Lavish apart.
“Dyson vacuum cleaners are not purchased by so many people at a premium price because they have more power, but because they completely rewrote the rules on luxury in design language and branding in vacuums,” Ling says.
Ling says the American model for a luxury bed has been one of “more” — more coils, more foam, more fiber, more height. To differentiate itself, Posh + Lavish follows a “better” approach of using higher-quality materials to achieve greater comfort and performance in its beds.
Mattresses are made with natural latex, which Ling says is more stretchable and resilient than polyurethane foam. Rather than using polyester fibers, Posh + Lavish incorporates wool and knitted cotton in its beds.
“Our wool is medium-coarse grade, which makes our mattresses feel richer than mattresses with inches of polyester fibers in the quilt package,” Ling says. “And knitted cotton is more stretchable and resilient than woven cotton or polyester fibers. Woven cotton in a mattress makes the whole mattress feel ‘board-y’ and stiff. It also greatly reduces air circulation in the mattress.”
Posh + Lavish covers its beds in four-way stretch, 100% Tencel-faced fabric, which uses nanotechnology to make it moisture-absorbent, supple and durable. From the inside out, its mattresses reflect the company’s adherence to only using the best materials available, Ling says.
“Tencel is the strongest of all cellulose fibers based on tenacity profiles,” Ling says. “Polyester fabric is fine for inexpensive furniture or clothes. Tencel costs more, but it is simply a better component for eight hours of use every day. Tencel clothing at better department stores costs multiple times more than polyester or cotton, and consumers are familiar with it.”
Another important part of Posh + Lavish’s “better” strategy is domestic production. The company, with headquarters in Atlanta, has facilities in California and North Carolina where its beds are assembled by hand.
“Domestic manufacturing is so important,” Ling says. “You can’t get that wrong in our price point.” Suggested retail prices for queen sizes range from $3,879 for its Relax latex model to $6,979 for its Fusion latex and memory foam mattress.
Ling says another driver of its “better vs. more” ethos came from consumer research that found buyers of luxury mattresses often found their bed didn’t last as long as they’d like. Part of that came from how the mattresses were constructed: Over time, layers of fiber to create a luxurious feel often collapsed under their own weight and the compression from the sleepers.
“When ultra-high-end consumers bought beds that were tall and heavily tufted with lots of fiber, they had huge dips in them over time,” he says. “So, the mattress they loved when it was new, they hated over time.”
Posh + Lavish’s line includes three constructions: All latex, latex and memory foam, and pocket-sprung mattresses. The company makes six all-latex styles, three latex-and-memory foam beds and five pocket-sprung mattresses, available in sizes from twin XL to split-head king. Posh + Lavish also offers latex mattress toppers, foundations and pillows. Pillows are available in all-latex, and down alternative-and-latex versions.
All in on brick-and-mortar
And while online sales and shippable boxed beds have been the trend over the past decade, Posh + Lavish eschews that model by focusing its retail efforts solely on brick-and-mortar stores. Ling says its extensive consumer research taught the company that luxury customers don’t want to shop for a bed online, and they expect a high level of service at the point of sale.
Carrying high-end brands like Posh + Lavish can give retailers an edge over counterparts selling in a different price point range, opening their business to a customer that is more recession-proof than most other consumers and willing to invest in the best, Ling says.
“A premium strategy is so important to brick-and-mortar retailers, especially in more challenging economic times when the tiers of the industry are so different,” he says. “It is probably fair to say right now the high-end producers are up double digits. The middle guys are down 10% or 20%, and the price point-driven guys are down more than that. Having a luxury strategy is everything at retail.”
A compelling brand story is important, too. While Ling believes Posh + Lavish offers that with its materials and manufacturing, the company also has a philanthropic arm that appeals to many customers. Posh + Lavish donates a portion of its proceeds to NeuroKids, a global nonprofit that works to offer quality medical care to children in underserved areas around the world who have hydrocephalus, a neurological condition commonly known as “water on the brain.” Left untreated, the condition can lead to severe disability and death.
“In the United States, we have many places that help sick kids and many ways their treatment can be funded. St. Jude’s is a great example of that,” Ling says. “But there are places in the world where there are a half-million babies born with terminal diseases like hydrocephalus, that there is a lifesaving surgery available to treat, but where there are not hospitals, doctors or funding to keep them from suffering or save their lives. It is great to be in the mattress business, but it is amazing to be in the brain surgery business.”
Success with split-head beds
Looking forward, Ling sees opportunities for Posh + Lavish to grow in the split-head mattress category. That’s the next logical step for the high-end consumer who was an early adopter of adjustable bases but now wants something that better suits the needs of couples, he says.
“Their one bed and its different individual positions serve multiple purposes in daylight hours and nighttime hours,” he says. “The best part about split-head mattresses is that all a retailer has to do is floor them. They sell themselves. Every consumer can figure out what the benefit is.”
Posh + Lavish began producing split-head mattresses five years ago, and Ling says they’ve only grown in popularity. As the company looks to the future, not only at its business but the industry in general, Ling says Posh + Lavish will continue to follow the model that has allowed the company to create products that resonate with the consumers he and Baumberger set out to reach a decade ago.
“What we have done in the past five years with split-head mattresses is the best indicator of how we see Posh + Lavish filling needs of retailers and consumers in the future,” he says. “What we do next will be no different than how we began. We will study the ultra-high-end consumer and provide solutions for them that they are delighted to pay retailers extra to get.”