Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Spare me the mattress fundane

Remember back in the old days, and all a mattress had to be was comfortable?

Oh, you were born knowing that a mattress was an item that you never bought used, let alone picked off the sidewalk on trash day. So you knew you needed to go mattress shopping.

Which means that you went to a mattress store – like Sleepy’s – or a furniture store or a department store. You gave a few mattresses the bounce test, hoped that the one you liked the most didn’t have the dorky print, looked at the price tag, and placed your order.

A couple of weeks later, some guys delivered that mattress and – if you weren’t doing a platform bed – a box spring, humping it up the steep stairs to your walk up, hoping they could get that non-pliable box spring around the corners.

If you were a bit more progressive, you went to a futon store or went for a water bed. (Do water beds even exist any more?) If you had a bit more money, you got yourself a Tempurpedic (and found out very quickly whether you loved or despised it: there was no in between).

These days, mattress companies want buzz. They want folks to tweet out, to Instagram, to YouTube. Which probably doesn’t happen that often when Sleepy’s delivers a Beautyrest.

Casper is one mattress company that wants the buzz, they want to “surprise and delight” buyers and fundane things up a bit. I.e., take something as uncool and boring as buying a mattress and turning it into an experience.

“It’s a challenge for us. Mattresses aren’t about external signaling, it’s different than eyeglasses or sheets,” says Philip Krim, Casper’s co-founder and CEO. “We deliver a mattress on a cargo bike in New York. That just doesn’t make sense. But you’re spending your hard-earned money, it should be delightful.” (Source: Buzzfeed)

Casper does do a bit of external signaling, if that term covers attracting notice. It does so by delivering their wares on a cargo bike, which they can do because their Mattress in a boxmattresses come in a box. No more worrying about whether the delivery guys can hump it up the staircase for you.  Plus you get the kick of opening the box and having the mattress explode out for you.

And who wouldn’t want to selfie that action?

Hard to believe that, in the world of Sleep Number beds, where each partner gets to sleep on their own idea of comfort, folks would buy a mattress without testing it out for a few seconds, or even, Sleep Number-wise, making something that’s kind of bespoke. Candy-cotton smush to the left; maximum security prison board to the right.

But Casper has attracted a fair amount of investment money – $14.95M, from money men that include Ashton Kutcher. (Oh, why not.) And it doesn’t have a corner of the market to itself, either:

Casper is one of at least six fledgling bed-in-a-box brands seeking to disrupt Big Sleep; there are Keetsa, Leesa, Saatva, Tuft & Needle, and Yogabed. (Casper and Yogabed seem to have missed the memo about using a double vowel in the company name.) Their websites are cool and sleek, with white backgrounds, pictures of a happy, diverse group of twentysomethings (often lounging on mattresses), and the promise that they alone are reimagining the slumber experience.

Six bed-in-a-box brands?

Wow. Just wow.

All I can say it was a lot easier being a young adult back in the day.

Sure, we worried about being with it.

But the ways we manifested with-it-ism was by what we wore, who we listened to, and where we ate. “External signaling,” I guess.

And then once you got past the “scrounge phase” of home furnishing (with or without having made a used-mattress mistake), you didn’t give all that much thought to everything being cool.

No, you didn’t go out and buy furniture that looked like it came from Versailles, but you were happy enough with Workbench.

Pots and pans from Jordan Marsh were just fine. So was the silverware your mother got with Betty Croker coupons. (I still have mine.) If you had Corelle for your dishware, you made sure that you had a few accent pieces in your d├ęcor that informed the world that you were not your parents. (Raise your hand if you had at least one poorly-thrown, misshapen, yucky colored pot that was made by someone you vaguely knew. Extra points if it hung from a macrame plant holder.)

As for your mattress?

A mattress was a necessity. Beyond comfort, you gave it about as much thought as you did the new toilet seat you picked up at the hardware store to replace the (inevitably) nasty one in your new digs.

But, of course, there was no social media with which to record our every move.

The idea of turning mattress purchase into a fun occasion, a fundane, just did not occur.

Ah, so much has changed…

Here’s hoping that the young folks still have something in common with us oldsters in terms of putting those unboxed mattresses to good use.


Frederick Wright said...

In the never-ending quest to indulge and encourage narcissism, I'm sure it is only a matter of time before necessities like toilet paper are subjected to a fundane makeover.

Maureen Rogers said...

Frederick - I believe it may already be underway. Some toilet paper - can't recall which one - is doing a campaign around using their products and being able to go commando. Is that fundane or what?