No time to snooze

The industry has been embracing new ideas, models and product propositions. It is fascinating to see how it is confronting new challenges and opportunities alike – one layer at a time.

The mattress-buying experience needed an overhaul for a long time and that has been exactly the gap that Mattress-in-a-Box(MIAB) players and online players have rushed in to fill. The traditional retail and mattress-buying cycle has received a new blow that is being leveraged well by players who can jump in to dance with the new song that the customer is humming.

Packing compressed mattresses in a box, making the opening and assembling parts easy for the buyer, and giving a plethora of choices in colours and types – that has disrupted the industry at a new level. To add to that, a 100-day trial period is also something that is unforeseen in the industry that has, otherwise and for decades, worked on old-school distribution channels and models.

These changes can appear daunting but they are also confronting the confusion, fatigue and complexity of legacy distribution in a huge manner. A lot of this ease and speed that define the MIAB models can be attributed to machines that have changed the rolling and compression procedures in a huge way on the manufacturing side. Investments and fresh approaches in delivery models for the new world are also paying off for the time-starved and convenience-hungry customer.

As Mr Himanshu Mehta from Himrag Coir Products Pvt Ltd seconds, MIAB as a concept is picking up fast in the industry. “We should look up to these new trends and match them. We should be ready for a new growth trajectory that was absent in the last few years.” MIAB is a fantastic innovation, Mr Mathew Chandy, Managing Director, Duroflex echoes. “The logistics savings are great and the quality is not compromised at all. I happily own and sleep on a Sleepy Head mattress.”

If you thought these models have shaken up the industry already, wait till you see how technology is stirring everything up and about.

A new way to push buttons

From smart beds, beds that cater to the needs of different sleeping partners, gadget-armed mattresses and sensor-equipped pillows – technology, it seems, has literally made its way inside our sleep escapades.

Everything around us is beginning to be connected via the Internet: Smart TVs, Smart kitchen appliances, Smart houses things can be controlled with so much ease today. Our mattresses will soon follow suit, augurs Mr Daveed Kuruvilla, Director, Restolex Coir Products Pvt Ltd “Signs of this are already beginning to show, for example, Beautyrest’s Smart Base. This adjustable mattress foundation can be controlled via Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home Assistant, which means you can adjust your position by just saying the command. It will be exciting to see Smart mattresses join the wave of interconnected household appliances.”

Mr Mathew Chandy is also excited about the Internet of Things (IoT) in products and Virtual Reality (VR) in the company’s retail stores when he assesses the next currents of innovation.

Yes, technology is about to arrive like a power nap. Smart beds would be the next Gutenberg turning point for the industry. Get ready to sleep on beds or mattresses with sensory powers to cool, heat, change shape, nudge, vibrate or wake up. The industry is blending technology and sleep in a never-before way indeed. Is the market ready? Of course! Indians are not too different from their global counterparts.

Mr Gaurav Gulati, a noted branding expert, author and Personal Branding & Brand Engagement Consultant reminds us that Indians are ready to spend on anything that is new and valuable as long as it offers something significant for the ease, comfort, and experience that customers seek.

A new way to roll

Besides these innovations, the way a bed’s firmness and softness work would also undergo some changes, along with how design and manufacturing areas stay abreast of new customer needs. Look at how the market of airbed mattresses, those inflatable wonders made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), is expanding. As per a research study ‘Airbed Mattress Market Research Report 2019’ from Reports Monitor, it is growing at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 310.0 percent during 2019-2025.

“On innovation, I think we are doing quite well. Our mattresses now look, feel and perform up to global standards.” Mr Mathew Chandy asserts as he cites #Energise mattresses that look like they have been designed by Nike. He also points out how natural, organic and biodegradable products are a crying need.

In all these changes, what is remarkable as a pattern is how customer experience and participation are redefining the way mattresses are made. Lego-based designs – where a customer can actually assemble a personalised mattress – are making their impact already. So is the emergence of new materials. Note how to gel mattresses are not just being explored in new combinations with memory foam but the third-generation foam is also coming up as a pragmatic choice for taking care of equal pressure and comfort for the human body. They are also working out well as cooling options and are resonating well with customers in the Indian sub-continent where the need for a ‘breathable’ mattress is quite pronounced. As Mr Vishal S, MD, Fancy Foam indicates, there is palpable innovation happening in areas of spring and gel mattresses as well for medically-special mattresses like orthopaedic options.

A new way to sleep

Innovation is a constantly-evolving process for any industry ‘to be there’ as Mr Raghav Menon, CEO, of Mattress Division, Sobha Ltd. defines it. “We are also looking at investments and encouraging people to try and use new products.”

But the biggest one that the industry needs, as he rightly argues, is that people need to buy ‘sleep’ and not just a mattress. Even a medical expert who handles many cases of sleep disorders agrees strongly on this aspect. “For the majority of India’s population, sleep education is critical. It will reduce highway fatalities. It will improve the productivity of our workforce. Sleep health will help people live a longer and healthier life full of energy, optimism, vigour, and vitality.” Dr Yatin J Patel, sleep physician, at Sneeze & Snooze Clinic, Indiana emphasizes this predicament of sleep oblivion.

ISPF is an industry body which promotes importance of sleep and role of mattress for a Indian consumers. ISPF plays very important role in connecting Indian bedding industry ecosystem. ISPF also acts as bridge between India and international players.