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business models, strategies and technologies

Rethinking the mattress industry – from product to relationship

US company Casper is rethinking the whole business model for mattresses – moving from a one-time product to managing an ongoing relationship

A whole story

US company Casper seems to be successfully rethinking multiple aspects of the whole business model associated with the humble mattress, turning it from a product that’s a one-off purchase into a long(er)-term relationship with the customer.

The company declares that “We created Casper because better sleep makes for better living.” As a stand-alone, that sounds like bog-standard “sell the dream” adspeak packaging –  but at Casper it’s part of a carefully sculpted story about mattresses as a means to an end, to solve real, practical problems for people.

Obsessively engineered

Casper forthrightly declares that they deliver an obsessively engineered mattress at a shockingly fair price, and this unusual-in-bedspeak focus on engineering immediately shifts the whole field of discussion. It also provides the perfect explanation for the fact that the company only makes one single model – shifting the discussion away from energy-sapping product selection and decision uncertainty. All done in an intelligent, seemingly positive way.

They declare that user testing led them to the counter-intuitive conclusion that most people actually prefer to sleep on mattresses with the same medium firmness – so they decided to eliminate all the confusion and design a single configuration that pretty much everyone will find comfortable.

Our award-winning mattress is so perfect we only make one.

Changing the way people shop for mattresses

Casper mattresses are sold online (free delivery in US and Canada), and that alone is a significant rethink for mattress marketing. The whole purchasing experience seems refreshingly liberated from mental images of serried ranks of seemingly identical mattresses in the always-least exciting part of home furnishing/IKEA stores. All of which is a big drain on resources and profit margins, because all that legacy infrastructure has to be paid for somewhere along the line.

Selling the dream – and following up on it

The latex-and-memory-foam combination means the Casper mattress gets delivered in a small-volume box that’s vastly easier and cheaper for the consumer to transport and lug around. The compressed-from-the-factory mattress then unfurls as it’s released from its binding and gradually absorbs air.

This delivery configuration also means there are huge pass-on-to-the-customer savings on supply-side logistics, while the single-configuration focus leverages economies of scale and eliminates cost-dragging inventory.

Maintain the magic – and marketing momentum

The website interface with the customer also means Casper has much better control of product perceptions. And – not surprisingly – they’ve made the natural leap to add bedding to the Casper marketing palette. But they’ve done it in a quirkily distinctive way, declaring “Our mattress, sheets, and pillow are engineered to create the world’s best sleep environment” (my emphasis).

Adding the bedding dimension also enables Casper to avoid the radical disconnect commonly associated with mainstream mattress marketing, in which you so often see people/models unhygienically and unrealistically draped over bare mattresses. Credibility and customer self-identification go out the bedroom window. Instead, Casper builds a community around the Casper experience, with a big chunk of the website dedicated to customer reviews – genuine as far as I can see.

By maintaining the customer’s interest, Casper moves the relationship beyond the one-time purchase. The company also adds a distinctive, quirky twist of subtle humour to their approach, putting a face to their idea via their very personable CEO, in a film that’s a great boost to the website, and even appealed to a dyed-in-the-wool sceptic like me.

From Casper onward

Not surprisingly, Casper isn’t unique. Parachute does much the same thing for bedding and textiles – “Rethinking the basics of Bedding [sic]” – albeit with more of an emphasis on high quality and social responsibility.

But Casper does seem to be a textbook example of how it’s possible to substantially rethink the business model for a fairly mundane consumer product that’s only a very occasional purchase (usually associated with not-always-positive changes in life situation!), from several different angles all at once.

In fact, it seems that Casper is more of an effectively scalable marketing operation with mattresses as the point of entry and vehicle for bearing an ongoing customer relationship, rather than a mattress company that’s good at selling,

External info
https://casper.com/ https://www.parachutehome.com