Summit Speaker: It’s a Whole New Ballgame for Bedding

FTS guest Mike Magnuson of GoodBed.com at a YSN Show Central sit-down

Mattress expert Mike Magnuson cites the lingering cloud cast by COVID

By Andy Kriege, YSN

Mike Magnuson of GoodBed.com presented an informative and eye-opening presentation to furniture and mattress dealers who were just waking up at last week’s Furniture Town Hall breakfast during Summit.

Magnuson is the CEO and founder of the consumer site, which offers unbiased mattress information to aid bedding buyers on their shopping journey. The self-described largest independent mattress review platform uses objective data from real reviews to dispense recommendations on consumers’ best options, and where to find a reputable retailer or supplier.

Conversely, from a dealer’s point of view, the company’s objective data provides valuable insights into marketing opportunities for brick-and-mortar stores.

Before a packed room of enthusiastic BrandSource members and Furniture Technology Source staff, Magnuson told dealers they need to pay attention to shifts in consumer habits to stay informed and to act on those marketplace changes.

Related: What’s Ahead for Furniture Technology Source

Magnuson emphasized that most consumers are now researching their mattress purchases online, in a trend that really took off in 2014 when Casper launched its first direct-sale, bed-in-a-box product. The trend further accelerated in 2020 with the advent of COVID.

In addition, the percentage of consumers willing to buy a mattress without first trying it in a store has doubled over the last seven years.  The inclination had begun leveling off when COVID pushed it even higher, and today nearly 50 percent of consumers are willing to buy a mattress sight unseen.

While the trendlines are consistent across all age groups, it appears that younger shoppers are demonstrating a more lasting willingness to change their shopping habits. What’s more, the budgets of consumers who are comfortable buying direct are now comparable to their in-store-only counterparts.

With the purchase decision clearly shifting online, Magnuson recommends using targeted advertising to be discovered first on online searches, and to use a provider to aggregate reviews of all the products a dealer carries in order to improving website conversion and SEO results. Goodbed.com can assist in these tasks.

The Three Biggest Threats to Mattress Retailers

Magnuson identified what he sees as the three biggest threats to the bedding business:

Ultra-Cheap Mattresses. “While they have been around for a while, these are now being pushed online where there is no salesperson to upsell them to a better product and the bogus reviews are telling them the product is great,” Magnuson said. As a result, customers are beginning to look at mattresses as disposable items and are not willing to invest much in them, making ultra-cheap mattresses an existential and No. 1 threat.

Amazon: Magnuson called the e-tailer out “Largely because they are the largest purveyor of the ultra-cheap mattress, and they receive high marks simply by chalking up reviews in a category where only price matters,” he said. “There are only two criteria to satisfy the Amazon customer: It has to be cheap, and it just has to be a mattress. By setting the bar so low, it creates an inevitable race to the bottom.”

Bogus Review Sites. This includes retailers who are now rating their own products and skewing search results to favor themselves. “Consumers have no idea they are reading the reviews of the company that is selling the product, giving them a huge and unfair advantage,” Magnuson said. “By dominating organic search results, many review sites are preventing the independent from being found online. They are actively dissuading customers from shopping with you.”

In a post-Town Hall chat with YSN, Magnuson shared that he started GoodBed following his own frustrating experience shopping for a mattress. While becoming a mattress authority was never part of his “life plan,” he nevertheless saw the need for an objective and personalized consumer guide to buying the right bed.

Missed the Town Hall? Members can hear Magnuson’s thoughts on rapidly changing consumer and retail trends in the mattress industry by tuning in to Mike it Up, a podcast he hosts with his Business Development VP Jeff Cassidy.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture, and CE dealers.