Mattress Pads Still Growing

Michele SanFilippo, November 14, 2005

New York — Mattress pads and toppers show a continuing trend toward products that are bigger, better and more innovative, while increasing raw materials costs are putting suppliers under financial pressure.

“What we see happening is an evolution of better thread counts, quality fills and fabrics, and more durable overall constructions with deep fitting skirts,” said Bob Hickman, vice president of sales and marketing at United Feather & Down.

Opening price point pads will not go away, in his opinion, but have become limited to mass-market retailers, while better quality merchants get improved returns on upgraded mattress pads and toppers.

The sentiment was echoed by David Roshberg, Louisville Bedding's national merchandise manager, bedding.

“The basic opening pad is not becoming obsolete as there will always be a price-point shopper, but the retailer realizes that the consumer will pay more for comfort and protection; therefore, the push toward better goods,” he said.

Observed Allen Robinson, director of marketing at Perfect Fit: “We are seeing a continuation toward higher fill weights. While interest is moving toward mattress toppers, opening price point pads certainly are not going away. There is still a significant segment of the consumer and institutional markets that want protection.”

Bob Altbaier, senior vice president of Down Lite International, is noticing more retail space being devoted to the category in recent years.

“We are seeing higher priced mattress pads filled with higher quality materials as a growing trend. Another important feature has been extra-deep gussets of up to 24 inches to fit larger mattresses,” he shared. “People are up-scaling their mattress pads or toppers and higher thread counts/better fabrics are in demand.”

Joe Blazar, director of marketing for Leggett & Platt's urethane division, contributed: “Our research tells us that foam toppers and pads don't necessarily cannibalize sales from the traditional (protective) pad sale. In fact, consumers are using both items, one in conjunction with the other: the topper to enhance the sleep experience and the traditional pad to protect the mattress.”

However, according to Gary Matthews, president and CEO of Sleep Innovations, consumers don't view mattress pads as different products than mattress toppers. “Therefore, retailers need to offer a range of options in price points and quality levels to encourage consumers to trade up to more value-added products and help them generate greater profit margins,” he said.

Matthews went on to discuss how price increases have continued to affect everything. “We've seen dramatic increases in the price of foam since August, and it's been up 50 to 75 percent in the last six weeks alone,” he stated. “As a result, we see retail prices in December and January rising by 10 to 15 percent. Some retailers across the board have had to change their product allocations in order to forego having full inventories on these goods. Because manufacturers have been so squeezed, they will be very limited as to what they can spend on product development.”

Louisville's Roshberg continued that raw material prices in quilted and foam pads are “skyrocketing with much of the burden on the supplier.” He said retail price points in quilted pads will most likely not move, but foam pads will have to increase.

“Raw material price increases will affect established retail price points of the items found in the opening price point foam mattress topper category, pushing the retail price up,” said Leggett's Blazar. “The effect of the retail price escalation will put more emphasis on toppers that retail at higher price points because they will represent a better consumer value. Products that demonstrate enhanced comfort by improving the feel of the mattress will continue to gain support.”

United Feather & Down's Hickman contributed, “From what our customers are telling us, if foam prices continue to go up 50 percent or more, retailers will start scaling back on inventory and possibly look to other fabrics and fills in the category because it makes them more attractive. We've definitely benefited from that trend this fall season.

“Customers have also become more skeptical about product illusions on the shelf: high thread-count mattress pads with generic polyester fills, non-woven backs and skimpy skirts. This is not a quality item and retailers understand this,” he noted, stating there is greater awareness about getting a better night's sleep with items touting more benefits.

Along those lines, several developments have taken place on the technology front in mattress pads and toppers. According to Dan Schecter, vice president, sales and marketing, for Carpenter's consumer products division, the company continues to seek out and develop products that interact with the body to enhance comfort and health. One of those products is its Ambient product that uses Holofiber and nanotechnology to increase the oxygen level in the body or its Beyond Down luxury alternative line.

“We continue to develop technology-driven products that can also reduce pressure on the body, specifically the lower back, such as Slumberwave, which features lumbar support built into the pad,” said Schecter, adding that everyone wants to trade into better goods but price points are not keeping up.

Meanwhile, Sleep Innovations came out with a full line of visco-elastic products featuring foam that is cool to the touch designed to offer a more comfortable sleeping experience.

Andy Schantz, vice president of the basic bedding division at Hollander Home Fashions, said the basic poly-pad is falling away as retailers become more interested in better quality goods, and novelty constructions such as velour, micro plush and wool are down trending.

“In our patented Superside Cuddlebed gusseted mattress pads, we have three different densities and loft heights (1, 1.75 and 2.5 inches) and are thinking about adding a fourth on the deluxe end with 3.25 inches of loft,” he said.

He added that Hollander has had requests from the mid-tier for single-ply 500-count cotton sateen covers on mattress pads, as well as to upgrade constructions on hotel programs by department/specialty stores. “People are more selective about what they put on their beds these days; we are selling better goods in multiple lofts and constructions.”

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