3 soon-to-be customers map out buying strategy | Sheila Long O’Mara

Upfront disclaimer: This column is not based on scientific research, but rather on a dinner conversation with three O’Mara boys regarding mattresses and where and how to buy them. All three, who requested their names to be kept out of print, had some serious opinions on mattress buying. Worth listening? Maybe, as they are a mix of the consumer groups that will succeed Baby Boomers and Gen X, both of whom happen to live, in the shopping arena.

Over a recent pot of Frogmore Stew — also known as Lowcountry Boil or Beaufort Boil — we started talking about mattresses as we spread newspaper out on the patio table to catch the feast.

For those who aren’t aware, Frogmore Stew, of Frogmore, S.C., fame, consists of shrimp, baby potatoes, yellow corn on the cob, smoked or andouille sausage, onions and a mess of seasonings. Some people use Old Bay; others mix up their own concoction. Some folks opt to add crab claws to the mixture. Serve it up with some horseradish-rich cocktail sauce, quartered lemons and an ice-cold brew, and you have a finger-messy, delicious meal.

If you’ll be at this week’s Bedding Conference in Hilton Head, S.C., and see it on a menu somewhere, give it a try.

OK, back to our young mattress consumers. One more disclaimer: None of them are in the market for a mattress right now, but the oldest will be within a year or so. Here’s the conversation:

Would you consider buying mattress online from a reputable resource?

Thing 1, the Gen Z in the mix, said, “Absolutely;” Thing 2, a Millennial, weighed in with a loud “no way;” and Thing 3, also a Millennial, said, “Sure. Why not?”

The middle guy — by far the one in the family most willing to have a contrarian viewpoint — then asked his bros why they would be so trusting in buying something like a mattress online that they didn’t have the opportunity to lie down on. It’s the age-old quandary, right? Native digital brands have now found themselves fighting for floor space with retail partners to give consumers like our Thing 2 the ability to test out a matt before purchasing.

Not to be out done in the debate, Thing 3 chimes in with a question about whether or not the bed could be returned if he decided it was too soft or too firm or miserably uncomfortable. Well, yes, of course that’s an option. To which he says, I’m in. Easy, fast, I’ll look at reviews, make my buy and wait for it to arrive.

Thing 1 agrees with Thing 3, plus the online purchase eliminates the requirement of him having to deal with a salesperson IRL (i.e., in real life). For him, online transactions are a plus.

Thing 2, who happens to be uncharacteristically quiet while noshing on shrimp, hops back into the conversation with a not-so-novel idea: What is to stop someone from buying a mattress, studying the return requirement (online brands offer anywhere from 20 days up to a year) and gaming the system? “They could get a new mattress every year.”

As industry insiders, we get that premise doesn’t quite work that way, but some consumers his age may look to game the system.

So what does this mean for mattress sellers? Just that consumers — even those with the same DNA — don’t come in the same box with the same mindset. Your job is to figure out the value proposition of targeting the different Things.

See also:

  • How do these 3 ladies approach buying a mattress? I listened in | Sheila Long O’Mara
  • ‘Got Sleep?’ has a nice ring to it | Sheila Long O’Mara

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