India needs to sell “Sleep” rather than sell branded mattresses. The concept of sleep is not well appreciated in India.  People  spend  their  lifetime savings  on  reducing  stress  levels, increasing   productivity,   leading   a healthy active life but give short shrift to sleep. So are Indians sleep deprived? A survey last year by Fitbit, the fitness wearable device maker, believes so. An average Indian sleeps for 6.55 hours every day as per a survey conducted by it in 2017.

“We need to sell sleep in India,” says Raghav Menon, CEO Mattress Division at Sobha Restoplus. “People should appreciate the concept of a good sleep and then visit a retail experience store to feel how a good sleeping mattress can help get good sleep,” says Raghav Menon.

India market

India may be sleep deprived but the sleeping mattress industry is at an Rs 10,000 crore and growing at 8.2 percent CAGR for the past five years and continue the same run rate until 2021. Of this the unorganised sector takes the lion’s share of 60 percent and the remaining going to the branded mattress. And unlike the western market, Indian mattress industry banks on the residential sector.

The potential is huge but thanks to the unorganised sector, it has not demonstrated its promise so far. The typical Indian middle class consumer still buys traditional bedding from the local street-side gaddi-wala. It is the upwordly-mobile consumer in India’s tier one cities who has embraced the modern mattress. However, studies show, that this sector has a long way to go in adopting the mattress.

Unlike in the US, in India, the mattress industry hasn’t taken any concerted effort to push mattress consumption. Remember that between 1960 and 1985, US industry ran an aggressive campaign promoting changing mattresses every four years once. Like the campaign for peanut products and apple, this campaign proved extremely effective. “It’s too expensive to do a consorted campaign in India but we are taking a lot of initiatives,” says Raghav Menon.

Will this change? Well, the Indian mattress industry is now coming together to lead the charge. They are putting up an united front to drive awareness among Indian consumer about the virtues of branded mattress. “We are doing a lot to increase awareness about quality, standards and importance of buying from branded vendors”, says Raghav Menon. This is just the beginning, we want Indian consumers to be aware that they need to sleep well and in style.

It is said that a typical working Indian householder will spend close to one-thirds of his time at home sleeping does not care enough about getting a good mattress. That could be changing slowly but not fast enough. India is witnessing a revolution in sleeping industry. The Sunday brand in Bengaluru offers custom made mattresses online. However, the target audience is, not widespread and restricted to those who care about how they sleep. But it seems that we need to sell sleep all over again in India. Its ok to sleep for 8 hours. It’s good to buy a good mattress to sleep well.

Much of it is cultural. According to a study 67 percent of respondents said they did not get enough sleep daily. Interestingly though, 49 percent of these respondents said they were guilty of not exercising regularly and 42 percent said they were guilty of not eating well while only 29 percent said they guilty of not getting adequate sleep. So the guilt for not exercising and eating right overrides the guilt for not getting enough sleep. In most Indian cultures, sleep is not given the right prominence.

SLEEP PRODUCTS

The sleep products industry as a whole has woken up to the sleeping giant of a market that is India. There are a number of devices, products and services which are trying to woo the consumer. Starting from the hospitality industry which is taking sleep seriously thanks to the heightened competitiveness in the market, there are specialized Sleep Spas or new sleep resorts are springing up which offer an undisturbed, relaxed environment amidst mother nature and free of electronic gadgets. There’s more as we will see.

Hotel industry is on a war to put its guest to sleep. Their feedback form usually features questions like, “Did you have a sound sleep?” or “What can we do to make your sleep better!”. They are redesigning their rooms, cutting ambient noise during night, remaking the bed, offering a choice of pillows and setting the room to an optimum temperature. A traveller who is already in a strange place will find it difficult to sleep and hotels are racing ahead to offer the best, homely feel to their rooms.

Indian consumer

How can Indian consumer scale the wall and move towards better quality sleep and better quality mattress. For starters, consumer education needs to be increased. For instance, globally spring mattresses are a rage but in India it is in its nascent stage. In India still coir, cotton, and foam rules. Spring mattresses and memory foam are just picking up.

Consumer goods industry is pressing the gas pedal to the sleep world. Lighting companies are ensuring that blue light is cut off during night, which is believed to be harmful to eyes, is cut off during night. Mobile phone apps are abundantly available offering a filter to cut off blue light. Lighting companies are also vending special fixtures which dim out the lights to set the mood to sleep. Earlier if the bedroom was the focus, now it is the living room. Pharma companies are launching night creams, body oils and sedatives to help people sleep. Nasal sprays, anti-asthma inhalers, anti-snoring products and many more are making a beeline to the neighbourhood stores to ensure the Indian consumer sleeps well. There are oil massage therapy and aromatherapy offerings which are taking over households.

To make an Indian sleep, we have to sell its virtues. We have to show her the classical FAB (Features, Advantages and Benefits) of sleep. Her child will grow up wiser and more successful; or her child will ace the exam by sleeping soundly days before the exams; or her child will bring home laurels in the athletics meet by sleeping well. Same goes to adults. Can we have an adage, “Eat well and sleep well”, and popularise it. Can we demonstrate how creative individuals sleep more. Can we dig into our history and mythology and show how sleep was more prominent than it is in the modern times. More than anything else, can we show to a growing adult how sleep can save him medical expenditure after 40s so that he can buy his dream car or dream home or go on that dream vacation. But it seems that we need to sell sleep all over again in India. Its ok to sleep for 8 hours. Its good to buy a good mattress to sleep well.