What is the Reason Behind Companies Investing in Consumer Awareness?

The mattress market in India is growing and evolving at a rapid pace. In fact, as per Research And Markets.com’s report “India Mattress Market Outlook, 2020-2025”, “The overall mattress market of India has grown at a CAGR of above 11 percent over the last five years. Earlier, the unorganised sector primarily dominated the Indian mattress market but with growing awareness and an increase in the earning capability of consumers, the organised sector picked up fast and it grew nearly at a CAGR of 17 percent in last five years.” In future also, focus on spreading consumer awareness will only help the mattress companies to increase sales.

Spreading consumer awareness about quality of sleep is the key

While it is generally seen that Indians often shop for many things offline or online, the frequency of shopping for a quintessential product like a mattress is very less in the country. This is because Indians often undermine the importance of quality sleep and mattress in their life. They generally overlook the fact that sleep is a vital ingredient for one’s good health and overall well-being and one spends nearly 1/3 rd of their life in bed. Thus, people often take sleep for granted much like the mattress that is used for this activity. This makes it necessary to make people realise that if they are spending nearly seven to eight hours on bed every night on average, they need to invest both time and money in buying this product. So, mattress companies along with organisations like Indian Sleep Products Federation (ISPF) have taken numerous steps to spread awareness amongst its customers about the quality of sleep and the importance of good mattresses through the development of retail infrastructure and marketing activities.

Earlier marketing was directed at only promoting the product but now the focus has shifted to promoting quality sleep which has become the need of the hour amidst growing diseases, unhealthy lifestyles and hectic schedules. In fact, mattress manufacturing companies have taken it upon themselves to make people realise that a good night’s sleep is of utmost importance in life.

Srinivasan Sundaerasan, Secretary, ISPF, says, “The best gift and comfort that you can give to your body is sleep. However, that is something that most Indians neglect. Most of people don’t know about good sleep hygiene which includes basic things like not using your mobile phone before sleeping, not having tea or coffee after dinner and avoiding blue light before sleeping because it blocks a hormone called melatonin that helps you sleep. Thus, due to lack of sleep hygiene, people end up having sleepless nights resulting in a stressful next day.”

 In addition, the mattress industry players firmly believe that quality sleep can not only increase your productivity but also help you to reduce your hospital bills as you can keep many diseases away from you if you have a sound sleep every night. In this context, Srinivasan avers, “Most of the time, it is 80 percent sleep and 20 percent medicine that help cure any illness or disease. So, instead of paying huge hospital bills, you should buy a good mattress that helps you sleep sound. Here, mattress surface also plays a vital role.”

The Indian mattress market is growing day-by-day. But the Indian consumers needs more awareness on the sleep health. Since the sleep health is one of the most important aspect of human life, and is getting disturbed due to various reasons such as change in life style, working at late nights etc.

Increasingly mattress manufacturers are making their customers aware of good mattress surfaces. In fact, different kinds of efficient mattress surfaces have emerged in the recent past that can satisfy different needs of the customers. These include memory foam, pocket spring, Bonnell spring, PU foam, viscose foam, multilayer hybrid foam, 5-layer foam etc. Such high-technology mattresses help address various issues faced by many like sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleep related problems.

Gradually, due to the extensive efforts taken by the mattress industry and many study results, people are beginning to understand that a good sleep can reduce various problems like obesity and the risk of heart disease, dementia and even some cancers. Hence, consumers are willing to invest in technologically advanced products over traditional cotton beds as they promise them a better night’s sleep and a longer and healthier lifespan. However, due to the presence of many brands and their multiple offerings and extensive advertising, customers are getting confused.

Well, Duroflex launched a campaign recently in this regard. Smita Murarka, Chief Marketing Officer, Duroflex, notes, “We have launched a campaign called ‘Asli Neend’ with our brand ambassador Alia Bhatt with the aim of educating the customers on making well-researched choices when it comes to their sleep solutions products and not get lured by attractive deals, advertising gimmicks and false promises.”

She adds further, “Gradually, people are showing interest towards quality sleep solutions. However, since many brands have entered the mattress segment claiming to sell superior materials, customers are getting confused and thus, they end up purchasing a mattress which does not address their specific needs resulting in disrupted sleep and ensuing health issues. Hence, through this campaign, we are aiming to increase consumer awareness and help India sleep well through quality solutions.”

Consumer awareness through retail infrastructure upgradation and training

In order to achieve their initiative of promoting good and quality sleep, brands are leaving no stone unturned. They are encouraging the retailers and training them as well as how they can educate their customers about five things that are needed for a good sleep in a bedroom i.e., good ambience, no noise, pleasing light, good smell and good surface. Further, brands are also motivating their retailers to ask the consumers about all their requirements including budget and then suggest a mattress surface which is best for them in terms of features, advantages and benefits. This is in line with the fact that most of the mattress manufacturers believe that since retailers are at the forefront and are the ones actually selling a mattress to the customer, training and educating them to spread customer awareness is very important. Hence, mattress companies are increasingly focussing on retail training, so that they can sell better sleep solutions to customers.

Srinivasan notes, “In this regard, 2000 dealers were trained by ISPF this year and the focus of the two virtual sessions was to increase sales through consumer awareness. Also, since we know that a mattress is a product which customers want to see and touch, we educated the retailers as to how they can enhance the customer experience like through simply displaying the mattress on a flat surface and then asking the customer to roll over the mattress from left to right or vice versa to see the comfort the mattress offers.

He adds further, “Nearly 275 retailers were given physical training at the HGH India trade show this year through its World of Sleep pavilion which was focussed on promoting good quality sleep through sleeping solutions that customers are increasingly looking for.”

Even big mattress companies are doing a lot on the retail training front. Smita says, “We communicate with our dealers on a regular basis. We take various initiatives to educate our dealers by providing them with literature, sending them e-mails and training them. We even conduct digital training sessions. Through all these measures, we ensure that they are able to serve the consumers better and increase consumer awareness.”

In the present times, what makes retail training important is the fact that before the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak, mattress customers mostly used to visit stores and buy mattress. However, the pattern changed drastically after the pandemic as people moved more towards online shopping and D2C brands. Thus, digitally native brands grew more than the legacy brands. This was also because of the fact that the customers wanted to know more directly from the source and save money and not pay the middlemen. Thus, in order to counter this issue, mattress manufacturers in India had no option but to start focussing on the upgradation of retail infrastructure and retail training to improve the selling technique and spread consumer awareness about quality sleep and health benefits of various mattress surface materials.

Not only this, today, mattress manufacturing companies are also suggesting their retailers act on even the smallest of complaints of their customers as through this they can gain the confidence of their customers. Retailers are even asked to take feedback from their customers after sales and provide support to the customer if they have any issues. This is because customer feedback has become very important in the present times as customers have various platforms like Facebook and Twitter to voice their opinions on a particular product, service or company and this is one of the best ways through which mattress manufacturing companies can improve the quality of their offerings in mattresses and gain more customers.

Digital marketing to spread consumer awareness

Now, how you reach your consumer has also become very important. Until and unless, you don’t reach your customer, you would not be able to create consumer awareness. Hence, in this internet age and especially after the COVID-19 outbreak, leveraging and investing in digital marketing has become all the more important. Hence, mattress manufacturers are increasingly demanding their dealers opt for online marketing to spread awareness about quality sleep and promote brands and connect to potential customers. In lieu of this, as a basic step, mattress manufacturers are asking their retailers to take mobile numbers and e-mails of their customers and maintain a data bank, so that details about new products and offers and discounts on special occasions and festivals can be sent to customers well before time.

Well, the need of the hour is that digital marketing campaigns should contain educative content that strikes the correct pain points of the consumers and educate them about good sleep. Even social media serves as a good platform in this regard. Hence, increasingly retailers are leveraging the social media user base to promote sleep and sleep products by engaging the audience in two-way communication through quizzes, contests and memes.

Today mattress manufacturers are also directly using the digital medium to educate their customers. Smita notes, “In addition to contests, conferences etc., even through our website, social media platforms including blogs and others, we educate the customers on the importance of good sleep and how they can ensure that through various measures like right light, the right temperature, etc.”

Increased consumer awareness leading to growth of organised segment

moving from unorganised to organised segment and thus, the organised sector is growing at a fast pace. In fact, today customers of every age group are realising the importance of eight hours of sleep and the impact of a comfortable, modern and technologically advanced mattress on their body, mind and soul and hence, are preferring to buy a good brand mattress to which they earlier did not pay attention due to their relatively high price as compared to the products offered by the unorganised players.

As per Smita, “Today, the mattress industry is 60 percent unbranded but the scenario is expected to change in future and this is definitely true.” According to a report by Redseer, the branded mattress market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13 percent over the next 5 years to constitute 37.5 percent of the market by 2022. The report further states that a large part of the growth of the branded mattress market can be attributed to the efforts and investments made by mattress players to increase consumer awareness about quality mattresses through the development of retail infrastructure and marketing activities.

In a nutshel

In the recent past, there has been a definite shift in terms of consumer awareness and willingness to spend on sleep solutions, not just in the big cities but across small towns of India as well, thanks to the mattress manufacturers’ initiatives. As awareness is increasing, people’s willingness to do in-depth research and make informed decisions while buying mattresses have also grown significantly. This is making retail upgradation and digital marketing important in the mattress segment and hence, mattress manufacturers are taking all the steps in this direction.

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.