The Power of a Story

Sit down and let me tell you a story about mattress sustainability education.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who was searching high and low for her perfect mattress. The first one that she tried was too firm. The next was too soft. One was too thick. Another was too thin. On top of it all, she wanted a mattress that she felt good about — how it was made, the materials that went into it and what would happen to those components when the mattress reached the end of its useful life.

Mattress sustainability education. Goldilocks tries to find the "just-right bed."

In stores, she asked all the right questions. Some retailers were able to tell her about the foams and the coils in the mattresses she tested. Some could tell her how a mattress would keep her cool at night. They could all tell her about the price.

Only some of the retail sales associates could share details about sustainability with great knowledge and confidence. The rest mumbled that they wished the manufacturers shared more about those things so they would know.

In the end, our shopper visited a store where she found her just-right mattress. It was neither too firm nor too soft, too thick nor too thin, too hot nor too cold. She knew about the materials that went into its creation. She felt wonderful about taking it home.

And she and her mattress lived happily, until the day when the mattress had reached the end of its useful life. While she was sad to see their relationship end, she knew most of her beloved mattress would live on in recycled pieces. The end.

I don’t expect you to believe every word of a fairy tale, but I can tell you this one is based in part on new Better Sleep Council research.

This summer, the BSC surveyed consumers and retailers to learn what they thought about sustainability as it relates to mattress buying. Here, we share an overview of the findings. We’ll explore the results in more depth in future issues. However, in this first look at the data, I was struck by the need to do a better job educating retailers.

Often at the High Point or Las Vegas markets, I’ve heard someone say that a mattress tells a cooling story. A sustainability story. A you-fill-in-the-blank story.

Are those stories making their way to retailers? I know many producers do a great job providing educational materials and training for RSAs, but the research shows there’s room for improvement. Only 27% of retailers said they were extremely knowledgeable about sustainability practices and materials related to mattresses. And 78% find product information about mattress sustainability to be confusing. 

I know so many of you have great products and great sustainability stories to share. I encourage you to find a way to get the message out clearly so that mattress shoppers can find exactly what they want. That way, everyone can sleep happily ever after.

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