The Social World of the Mattress Business

Products seem to always be the center of attention. We are pitched a product and told how great it is and how we should buy it because it is the perfect product for us. Companies base their marketing strategies and customer outreach around the product, but often forget to keep their customers the center of attention. Social media, although not always properly deployed, can help to bridge this gap and help companies refocus customers as their primary concern.

The greatest difference in social media tactics as it relates to customer interaction can be seen in the mattress industry. Mattresses? Yes mattresses. Mattresses are where we spend approximately 33% of our lives and whether we have a good mattress or not can make those hours cherished or miserable. In order to get a comfortable mattress we often spend hundreds of dollars and it can be one of the biggest purchases in a customer’s year. The two companies we are going to look at are Sleepy’s, a national mattress retailer with over 1,000 physical stores, and Casper, a startup company who does business exclusively online.

FAILING AT SOCIAL BUSINESS

Sleepy’s has high fixed costs in enormous showrooms, commissioned salespeople, overstocked inventories, and high shipping costs. They care about two things when selling you a mattress, how quickly they can get paid from the sale and how high the markup is going to be. This strategy means that in order to be successful, Sleepy’s needs to pump out as many mattresses as they can. Instead of connecting with customers and providing them with advice on which mattresses to buy, their social media strategy is centered around getting the word out about upcoming sales.

Every once in a while, someone decides that they want to be personable, but usually ends up coming out as an awkward attempt at humanizing the company.

#WhatIsLoveIn4Words was the only tweet I found from the company that did not mention a sale going back to Thanksgiving. Simply put, Sleepy’s is a company that uses its social media as an online flyer and keeps customer’s interests on the back burner.

I also feel that it is important to disclose that in July, I ordered a mattress from Sleepy’s at which time they informed me, after spending $700, I would have the mattress delivered in two weeks. I moved into my apartment and Sleepy’s was not only a week late on their delivery, but when the bed was finally delivered, the deliverymen had forgotten the frame and box spring. It took another 3 weeks for the box spring and frame to arrive and Sleepy’s made zero attempts to remedy the situation as I had called corporate headquarters more than a dozen times with zero response. I had already paid them for the bed in its entirety, so they looked at dealing with me as a value-losing proposition. Looking back, I wish that I had tweeted my concerns to see how they would have dealt with me.

SUCCEEDING AT SOCIAL BUSINESS

Casper is Sleepy’s polar opposite. The startup company has raised around $38 million through two rounds of venture capital funding and shows no signs of slowing down. Although they have one physical showroom in New York City and another in Los Angeles, their business is driven by online sales. The company even brags that the mattress can be delivered same day in New York City via a bicycle courier, but allows 2-5 for everywhere else in the United States. The tone of the company’s website is very conversational as you can see below.

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 9.52.10 AM 

Casper’s business is centered on creating an interactive social environment. Instead of spending venture capital money on grandiose showrooms across the country, they are letting their customers do the talking for them. Word of mouth advertising is not only the best form of advertising, but it is also the most cost effective form of advertising. Social media allows Casper to harness the previously hidden word of mouth advertising and display it publicly in the form of retweets.

Casper is not just in the mattress business, they made a conscious decision to be a sleeping destination. Their Twitter page is not just a place to interact about their product, but a spot to converse about sleep and everything that accompanies it.

By creating this online sleep safe haven, Casper is able to naturally foster the strong positive reactions to their product that is so valuable to the growth of the company. The first thing we see on their Twitter is there is no mention of sales and very few tweets directing people directly back to the website. Instead, there is a mix of links about the company from third parties, light hearted blog posts, and an astounding number of retweets. Every tweet the company release was conversational and had a humorous tone.

Not to mention, Casper has an all too familiar love of food.

The vibe you get when you follow Casper is closer to that of a person than a company. Casper also handles customer service very differently than Sleepy’s does. 

Showing sincerity towards the customer, Casper responds with actionable steps that the customer can take to remedy the problem if it does not fix itself. There is no automated message or cloned response to customer’s concerns, but a real person on the other side of the computer actively working to address customer’s concerns. 

Some might say that the difference between these two companies is simple: big business versus startup company, but it goes much deeper than that. Each company’s social media presence gives off the perception that customers don’t mean anything (Sleepy’s) or that their customers are their greatest asset (Casper). Sleepy’s stands to learn a lot from Casper just by giving them a follow.

Update: Casper is a pretty cool company:

8 comments

  1. Chris, this is a great case study on an unusual topic! I also like how you used this as an opportunity to voice a negative experience about Sleepys. That story really seems like a traumatic experience and I had a feeling you had ulterior motives when writing this blog. That aside, I think that companies really need to focus on harnessing a human element to their social media personas. I definitely feel that being genuine and sincere online goes a long way especially since these interactions with customers are public. It’s like a double edged sword, where companies not only retain a customer (through customer service) but also showcase their values to the public. Social media is unique in that aspect since everyone can see conversations. Before if you filed a complaint it was a conversation between just you and the company. Now there are constantly thousands of eyes waiting to see how companies react, so that really raises the bar in terms of service. Again great post!

  2. Great post. What Casper gets right (as you noted) is that they curate content that their customers might be interested in. It helps build engagement over the long term, and its the “right” way to do SM marketing – unfortunately there are too many Sleepys type companies out there.

  3. wallacekwan99 · ·

    Great post on how two companies in the same industry, leverage social media so differently. And just when I was about to point out the differences between a large company, and a startup, you quickly anticipated my thoughts and addressed them in a terse, “matter of fact” style.

    It disappoints me that some of these larger chains perceive social media as just another outlet to distribute flyers, and forget that its an opportunity for engagement! Also, adding the last tweet you had with Casper really drove home the warm and cozy perception that you were illustrating in the beginning of the post. Man, I love Cookie Crisp.

  4. Definitely interesting to learn about a company that is failing to succeed on social media, since we’ve mostly been looking at the successful ones. I was curious to know how Sleepy’s handles customer service on twitter, so I went to their page. To my surprise, I couldn’t find any tweets of the company replying to customers. Along with their lackluster tweets, this seems like a huge downfall to not address any of the comments directed at them on Twitter.

  5. I’m so glad you chose to embed the tweets that you did! In particular, the one about hitting the snooze button (“It’s already been 3 times”) made me stop and think. Over the past few weeks we have been talking about companies, like Casper and JetBlue, that do a great job of communicating and conversing with their customers, rather than just responding. In our discussions, however, I have certainly been considering the “personal” voice to be still representative of a “company” responding…i.e. “Wondering what to eat for breakfast?” to me, is interpreted as more of the entity itself posing the question, albeit personally, to its customers. But the tweet about the snooze button gave me pause due to the intimacy of hitting the snooze button. The image of someone hitting a snooze button is just that, a someone, or person, having to wake up in the morning. This makes me wonder about the future of brand management and how consumers will really envision brands. Are we already at the point where we see see brands as individuals, even friends, and possessing human tendencies and needs (here, sleep)? Or are we teetering close to it, but still understanding that it is a company and its social media representatives tweeting on behalf of the brand? Maybe someone should make a sequel to the movie “Her” involving a relationship between someone and a brand…they can call it “Inc.”

  6. This post is awesome, Chris! I really loved how you’ve been able to apply the topics that we’ve discussed to class to an industry that I would never have thought relied on social media for strategic advantage. I guess this is kind of the strategy that Warby Parker picked up on when it was also just a small internet startup… Why were these glasses companies spending so much money on showrooms when they could just be delivered much more efficiently to people’s homes? Similarly, Casper understood that customers today’s don’t have the time or need to go to the store and try out every single mattress there (and honestly, overtime I’ve gone to Sleepy’s or other mattress stores, the mattresses all begin to feel the same). Instead, Casper can use it’s money on R&D and developing the best mattress out there (that can be customized to fit the customer’s needs) and focus it’s ad money on social (which it’s customers will more likely be using, since they did they purchasing online anyways). I wonder if Sleeyp’s customers tend to be older since there is still a large demographic of customers who prefer to shop in stores as opposed to online?

  7. Such a fun post, Chris! You made an excellent case for this new kind of mattress selling model. I really appreciate how you took the time to first explain a more traditional way of mattress buying (and its many negatives), in order to show just how innovative an up-and-coming company like Casper actually is. This post reminded me of the success of JetBlue’s twitter and the importance of being personal and humanizing the product to connect to customers. I think the use of real-person success stories with their Casper experiences makes the need to walk into a store and test out a mattress less necessary and contributes to trusting Casper with such a big purchase.

  8. Fun post. Goes to show that there’s room for everyone to succeed in social media, no matter the industry. Not surprising that with a seemingly start-up culture at Casper that they’re excelling at keeping things casual and conversational, but clearly they also offer a great product. This is a really fun case study that really exemplifies just how much the way we do business is changing.

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