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Carpenter Mesmerizing Consumers

Brent Felgner, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, April 17, 2006

New York — Carpenter Co. has launched a national branding, advertising and public relations campaign intended to distance itself from other comfort sleep producers by empathizing with consumers' sleep problems and reclaiming its position as the preeminent expert in sleep science.

Full-page advertisements have already appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, timed for the changeover to Daylight Savings Time and declaring “Carpenter Co. National Sleep Better Night,” Saturday, April 1st — an observance of its own invention.

In the days following Spring Market, Dan Schecter, vp sales and marketing for Carpenter's Consumer Products Division, was scheduled for a series of meetings to flesh out the remainder of the media placement and content, which will include other major market newspaper runs and national consumer magazines. He declined to specify the size of the buy.

“We're trying to bring up the level of consumer awareness about the value of sleep, health and wellness and the importance of having the right tools to sleep,” he explained in an interview. “We're investing in this effort heavily. Obviously, it's good for the recognition of Sleep Better, and Carpenter Labs is the foundation for the technology we sell. Anybody can make a bed pillow or a mattress pad, but it's the technology that goes into these products that bring value to the consumer and to the retailer.”

The company's own “sleep expert,” Dr. Michael Breus, a Ph.D clinical psychologist and diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, is the spokesman for the effort and has already made a number of national and local media appearances, including on CNN, Schecter said.

The ads don't directly sell anything at this point, but address the value of a good night's sleep. They direct consumers to a company Web site, sleepbetter.org, where they may receive additional information and advice. Breus also participated in a live chat on the evening of April 1.

“There's so much disinformation out there about product — about bed pillows, about mattress pads, about mattresses,” Schecter explained. “It's a blind item. Consumers don't know what they're purchasing. They don't know what to look for … so we're letting people know: buyer beware. There is a value to buying the right product, and you get what you pay for..”

The gambit is a not-so-subtle shot across the bow of Carpenter's competition; some have introduced aggressively priced products touting or implying essentially the same feature benefits. Schecter is adamant about the qualitative differences and is critical of the segment's extreme emphasis on pricing.

“We hope they'll be forced to innovate, improve the quality and keep the consumer in mind when they sell a pillow,” he said. “We hope that the retailer will begin to stop focusing so much on price and begin focusing on consumer satisfaction.”

Telling the quality story, Carpenter hopes, will consciously set it apart from the other suppliers in the category and reinforce its position with consumers and retailers. It may also have the added benefit of a consumer “push” into retail doors carrying the Sleep Better products.

“We want the consumer to be jolted,” Schecter added. “We want them to think about” these issues.”

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