As the year 2012 draws to a close, we take a look back on the top stories and headlines from the mattress industry. From big mergers to new technology, it proved a big year, offering some interesting prospects for 2013. If you are in the market for a new mattress, don’t forget to take a look at our write of the top mattress brands of 2012 also!
1) Tempurpedic Announces Sealy Acquisition
Perhaps the biggest industry story of the 2012, the announced acquisition of Sealy by Tempurpedic continues making waves. While the merger is still awaiting Federal Trade Commission approval, it would combine two of the biggest mattress manufacturers into the world’s largest, a true titan. The deal is valued at $1.3 billion, with Tempurpedic offering $228 million in cash and assuming Sealy’s debts and liabilities.
In the proposed plan, the companies will continue operating as separate entities. However, there has been much speculation as to whether it would affect Tempurpedic’s standing as a luxury brand, or if Sealy’s competing memory foam lines would be changed or dropped. Currently, the two companies have very different cultures, marketing, and sales operations so it should prove interesting to see how they grow together. The FTC is expected to announce a decision on the buy out in early 2013, with most analysts expecting approval.
2) Introduction of Gel-Based Memory Foams
The hottest new bedding technology proved gel-based memory foams, popularized by 2011’s Serta iComfort line. As the trend bloomed in 2012, nearly every foam company began offering a gel memory foam line to boost their lineup. Gel is touted as being cooler than traditional memory foam, and proved a competitive success for some retailers. However, as the craze-effect began wearing off towards the end of the year, shoppers and industry experts began searching for the as-of-yet lacking science to back up the cooling claims – so only time will tell if this trend lasts.
3) Study Shows Plant-Based Memory Foam Sleeps Cooler than Gel
As the gel trend began to heat up, other manufacturers sought to defend their product lines against the hype. Cargill released a study showing that plant-based memory foam dissipates heat 25% faster and sleeps cooler than the gel based foam. The claim was backed and supported Amerisleep, maker of plant-based memory foam mattresses, which showed cooler sleep and quicker heat dissipation in independent tests compared to traditional and gel-based foams. Tempurpedic also released a direct lab comparison between their beds and iComfort, revealing an overnight temperature difference of .3-.6 degrees, in favor of Tempurpedic. As more studies and consumer opinions come out in opposition of gel memory foam’s coolness claims, it may signal waning interest for 2013.
4) Pushes for Mattress Recycling Legislation Largely Defeated
With mattresses continuing to pack landfills in the thousands, many states and local municipalities attempted to legislate mattress recycling bills in 2012. The International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), a collective representing many manufacturers and retailers, fought to defeat bills in Rhode Island, Connecticut and California. ISPA and most manufacturers are in favor of a national, federally backed mattress recycling system that they say would be more practical and cost efficient for all parties (as opposed to varying, individual state programs). The mattress industry is expected to continue working with state and federal entities to develop solutions for the mattress recycling issue, so stay tuned in 2013 for news on this front.
5) Strong Upward Trends in Mattress Sales
Mattress retailers and manufacturers enjoyed year-over-year increases in sales, with ISPA estimating 10.5% overall dollar growth and 6.5% unit growth. Many retailers and wholesalers reported their best years since the recession began. The overall trend appears to be for growth in the coming year as well, especially in the mid-price markets.
6) More Mattress Industry Mergers and Acquisitions
Other significant mergers did take place in the bedding industry, even if they were overshadowed by Tempur-pedic and Sealy. Canadian brand Natura World went bankrupt and was bought out by Spring Air Sommex. The new owner is attempting to improve Natura’s manufacturing process and deliver more consistency to retail partners. After International Bedding Company went out of business, its assets including intellectual property and a manufacturing facility were taken over by Sleep Inc, manufacturer of Therapedic and Spring Air. Sleep Inc announces plans to either absorb the trademarks into their current lines or relaunch the IBC brand, but as yet little additional information has been released. Brick and mortar retailer Mattress Firm also had their share of acquisitions this year, including retailers Mattress Giant and Mattress X-press.
7) Adjustable Bases Grow, Astrabeds Ergo Evolution Emerges as Leader
The market for electric adjustable beds continued to expand in 2012 as consumers become aware of the benefits, mattress options improve, and prices become more affordable. While the beds have a wide audience, they do tend to be most popular with middle age to elderly adults, and the large baby boomer population continues seeking comfort products that enhance independent lifestyles. The newer generations of adjustable bases offer a wide range of functional features and are designed to fit into modern bedrooms, unlike the medical adjustables of the past, another factor contributing to their popularity. One brand in particular making a splash is Astrabeds’ ErgoStar Evolution adjustable bed, which has become a top seller in the industry and is currently one of the most review adjustable bases online.
8) Tempurpedic Attempts to Enter Mid-Range Market
In an effort to combat lagging sales and compete with more affordable memory foam retailers, luxury brand Tempurpedic introduced the Simplicity line this year. The collection includes soft, medium, and firm models of 8” Simplicity mattress, with pricing set at $1099 for a queen and $1399 for a king. The effort appears half-hearted however, as the memory foam used is only a 2lb density compared to the 4-8lb densities of their other lines. The line has received mixed reception, calling it’s prospects into question especially with the pending Sealy merger and the availability of high-grade memory foam options. For example, when comparing a brand like Amerisleep, the Tempurpedic Simplicity falls short in terms of quality and price.
9) Beautyrest Attempts Rebranding
The other big brand making news this year is Simmons, with its attempts at rebranding their Beautyrest mattress line. The effort saw Simmons center marketing efforts on the Beautyrest name, an onslaught of advertisements in TV, print, and online, and the introduction of the Recharge Sleep System concept to their major lines. The Recharge models include more advanced fabrics and support systems, plus the addition of memory foam with a cutout design meant to offer cooler sleep.
So what’s next for the mattress industry in 2013?
2012 was a big year for mattresses and bedding, with several key changes in ownership and introductions of new technologies. Forecasts suggest continued growth of specialty mattresses like memory foam and latex, to the detriment of traditional innerspring beds. Look for more hi-tech options including temperature regulation and fully featured adjustable beds, and continued trends toward natural and green products.
Only time will tell what’s to come, but we are looking forward to the next year’s big headlines. Share and let us know what your favorite mattress industry story of the year was!