Today’s consumers research and shop online before they head into your store. The evil side of the internet is filled with trolls and misinformation. This series is your how-to guide for addressing mattress misnomers that people might ask you about after they’ve sifted through the worldwide web.
A Google search for “memory foam sleeps hot” produces 52 million results.
It’s no secret that the dense material has a tendency to retain heat. Many consumers have suffered hot sleep on a foam mattress or, when researching online, they’re finding information telling them to watch out for beds that make you boil.
If we take a quick trip back in time, problems with hot foam were the driving factor behind Serta’s iComfort gel foam mattress, which helped catapult the brand to number one at the time. Since then, innovators have created new formulations, additives and applications to cool down heat-trapping foam. Companies like Sleep Number and 8 Sleep offer plug-in mattress products designed to deliver the ideal sleep temperature and influencers across the internet swear by Todd Youngblood’s Chilipad product.
Even with all this innovation, consumers still encounter mountains of messaging telling them memory foam sleeps hot.
The question for mattress retailers is, how do you sell a customer a memory foam mattress if they like how it feels, but are worried about sleeping hot? And what if they want to return a memory foam mattress because it sleeps warm?
When selling, Bob Muenkel, industry veteran and vice president of retail engagement at Resident, takes a very simple approach: change the conversation.
He recommends reversing the question and instead saying, “It sounds like sleeping hot is a concern for you, help me understand that better.” Then explore their concerns to learn where you can be of help. He also suggests finding out what exactly “sleeping hot” means to the customer.
The real issue, Muenkel explains, is not just the memory foam mattress itself, but the other factors like pajamas and covers contributing to the microclimate people create when they sleep. It’s the science of sleep.
“When we sleep, we create a microclimate with sleep clothing and covers,” Muenkel offers as a script to RSAs. “Have you varied these to mitigate the feeling of sleeping hot? The human body actually sleeps two degrees cooler than when we are awake. Most often, the micro-climate we create with sleep clothing and bed covers are trapping too much heat creating that situation. Have you changed anything in recent years that may be causing this?”
While this can steer the conversation in the right direction, you should also be ready for a conversation about old memory foam versus new memory foam.
Josh Rigsby, co-owner of ESC Mattress in Everett, Washington, explains that old memory foam was closed-celled, which caused body heat to settle under the person. Newer memory foam is open-celled, meaning it allows more air flow to move body heat. This important distinction not only educates the customer, it assures them that you know what you’re talking about.
And as Stew Segura, co-owner at Mattress Doctor Lafayette in Youngsville, Louisiana, says, this may be an opportunity to increase the sale. “I would tell them the older generation of memory foam [sleeps warmer] and I’d sell them on cooling protectors and pillows after I help them find the correct mattress.”
In the end, selling memory foam comes down to psychology as well, and Rigsby — who in his 14 years of selling mattresses has only had one bed returned for sleeping hot — believes people only think they sleep warm because of the mattress.
“If you make a big deal about it [sleeping warm] or tell them to look at something else, then you are taking options out of your bag,” Rigsby explains. “As the expert, if you tell them, ‘if you sleep warm, you will sleep warm on anything,’ it becomes a non-issue. Follow that up with suggestions of bamboo or tencel sheets, and not using fabric softener and dryer sheets on pajamas and linens, and their mind is at ease. It’s only an issue if you make it one.”
So, remember, regardless of what consumers read online, they will ultimately look to retailers for guidance when shopping for the right mattress. Get to know your customer, understand their concerns and familiarize yourself with the science behind sleep. Then use what you know to educate consumers and make your next sale.
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