There just needs to be an easier way to get the mattress information on | Sheila Long O’Mara
I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: Mattresses are the most confusing category consumers make when decorating their homes.
The mixing of parts is not always easy to understand; foam vs. latex, foam density, spring count, natural materials, cooling fabrics and others. And, most buyers are hesitant to be “sold on” during the shopping process for a new bed.
My guess is that buying is always scary; however, the Internet, the rise of search engine optimization, the abundance of review sites and the explosion of affiliate marketing have flooded the web with mattress information and, in some cases, misinformation.
The same Internet is where consumers turn to begin their mattress shopping journey to find a surprising amount of top 5 or top 10 best mattress headlines. Sometimes those headlines involve brands rarely known to industry insiders.
My Outlook inbox is full of Google alerts touting the best mattresses for back sleepers, side sleepers, tossers and turners, the best mattress for sex or some other euphemism, and more. A quick Google search pulls up thousands of results – some paid advertisements and some organic – and if you dig deeper into the links, it gets interesting.
Of course, there’s Consumer Reports, the standard bearer for consumer product reviews. The publication and website reviews everything from earbuds to cars to home goods to pillows and, yes, mattresses.
You may or may not be familiar with sites like Best Products, Good Housekeeping and WireCutter, owned by The New York Times Co., all of which have designed a business model around product reviews, and that model is powered by affiliate marketing: consumers click and buy, the site earns a sales commission.
Even CNET, long known for its reviews of technology and consumer electronics products, has jumped into the mattress review business.
Some of the sites don’t even test the mattresses themselves and instead rely on a large portion of other outlets’ review stories. How does this make sense?
I’m guessing that since there is money to be made from affiliate dollars, the playing field for mattress reviews has become more crowded and will continue to do so. Page after page scrolls through search results, a gateway to how consumers jump into search.
You try. You’ll see media names like Forbes, US News & World Report, Rolling Stone — why? — and Popular Mechanics. What do music industry expert editors know about mattresses and how well — or poorly — they’re made? This is curious to me and, again, confusing or misleading to consumers who rely on media outlets for unvarnished information to help inform their purchases.
And let’s not forget the consumer reviews that lead websites like Amazon, Wayfair and other direct-to-consumer e-commerce players.
The bottom line is that it’s noisy out there, and weeding out the legitimate information and the bogus information is getting harder and harder for consumers who are just looking for a new mattress to help deliver a good night’s sleep.
What should a retailer do? Train your teams to have open, honest conversations with consumers when they come into your store looking for the latest “Clapton” mattress that got five stars on some random website. (No, that’s not a real mattress brand that I know of. It’s the name of one of our pets.)
What is your alternative? What better mattress do you have that is within their budget, and how does it compare to the Clapton brand? Make it real for them, and help guide them to a mattress that delivers a solution to their wants and needs … without affiliate marketing dollars.
It’s just cleaner that way.