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During COVID-19, Prioritizing Safety for Mattress Shoppers

— by Tempur-Pedic + Wall Street Journal on Aug 31, 2020

This content was paid for by Tempur-Pedic and produced by Wall Street Journal Custom Content. The Wall Street Journal news organization was not involved in its creation or production.

Like test driving a new car or buying a piece of jewelry, shopping for a mattress is one area where consumers tend to want to see, touch, and experience the product before making a decision. You head to the store, talk to a salesperson and test out your options—and typically lie on several mattresses to make sure you find the one that feels just right.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have become increasingly mindful of cleanliness and safety—particularly in “high-touch” retailer environments—and are expecting retailers to step up their game in these areas. Research from The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group Intelligence Group indicates that 87% of consumers expect retailers to take safety measures to limit their exposure, even as 76% look forward to returning to shopping as stores reopen.* These expectations are pushing retailers to rethink elements of the shopper experience, particularly in markets (such as the mattress category) where seeing or feeling the product plays a key role in the decision to make a purchase.

“Let’s say you’re looking to purchase a new car. Most of us are going to take it for a test drive,” says Tom Murray, Chief Marketing Officer at Tempur Sealy International. “It’s typically the same idea when you buy a mattress. You want to touch, feel and physically lie on the product. This, and the fact that you are often seeking the advice of the sales associate, makes cleanliness and social distancing more top-of-mind and important than ever.”

Brands and retailers aren’t waiting to play catch-up. Leaders like Tempur-Pedic® are deploying innovative new solutions to shop with confidence, even in uncertain times.

High Touch in a Hands-Off Age

Tempur-Pedic’s approach hinges on its Clean Shop Promise™, a set of guidelines for its own stores and retail partners to take advanced safety precautions prioritizing the well-being of each customer. Some measures affirm stores’ commitment to typical state requirements, such as offering shoppers access to hand sanitizer stations and face masks upon arrival. Others, like placing single-use protective guards over mattresses and pillows during each visit, go a step further to provide a safe, comfortable setting for shoppers to experience products.

The focus on safety also extends to the company’s Connected Retail™ program, which ensures an intuitive, seamless experience between brick-and-mortar and online shopping—a must in a category where customers tend to conduct initial research before trying out a product. One key feature is the “Find Your Bed Survey”, where customers receive personalized recommendations that match their specific sleep needs with local retailers’ product offerings. For instance, someone who sleeps hot would be matched with the TEMPUR-LUXEbreeze® mattress, which features a cutting-edge cooling system to help mattress owners fall asleep faster and stay cool throughout the night.

Hands holding phone with text visible that states "find your perfect sleep"

While Connected Retail was an existing area of focus for Tempur-Pedic, COVID-19 has shone a brighter light on the important role it has to play. Armed with information ahead of time, shoppers can be more productive during store visits and reduce the amount of time spent actually testing products. If desired, they can even chat online with a sleep expert to learn more about product offerings before heading to a brick-and-mortar location.

“Our research has consistently shown that consumers overwhelmingly prefer to try a mattress before they buy it,” Murray says. “Therefore, it’s incumbent upon us—and our retail partners—to make sure this experience is clean, safe, and comfortable, so that we can give consumers the extra assurance they are seeking and ultimately help them to find the mattress that is just right for them.

A Better Night’s Rest

While no one can foresee whether health measures like masks and shoe coverings will become permanent fixtures of in-store retail, the COVID-19 era is already pointing toward a tighter relationship between the online and brick-and-mortar experience. Appointment-based shopping is especially promising, particularly because it guarantees that consumers get one-on-one service and attention along with the necessary social distancing.

The daily uncertainties of the pandemic have also underscored the importance of getting a good night’s sleep—a point validated by research conducted by Tempur-Pedic. Just as COVID-19 has accelerated existing trends in the retail space, it’s affirmed shifting attitudes toward sleep that were already percolating pre-pandemic.

 

“Within the last three years, we’ve seen a notable increase in the understanding that sleep is paramount,” Murray says. “People increasingly recognize that sleep is important to how well you function the next day, your mental health and overall wellness and even the degree to which you can withstand illness. Moving forward, this appreciation for the importance of sleep is something that we expect will only continue to grow.”

* Source: The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group Intelligence Group’s May 2020 Consumer Confidence & Economic Monitor.

Wall Street Journal Custom Content is a unit of The Wall Street Journal Advertising Department. The Wall Street Journal news organization was not involved in the creation of this content.

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