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What’s the deal with all these fancy mattresses?

Pile of mattresses

A bed, usually, consists of a frame and mattress but we spend much more time thinking about what kind of bed frame to buy while the actual thing we sleep on, the mattress, doesn’t seem to get much thought at all? Until that is, it comes time to choose, and then it get’s really complicated.

Finding the right mattress was difficult enough but now we have, what seems to be, an endless choice of ‘mattresses in boxes’ which are marketed as so much better than the ‘regular mattresses’ we’ve been having to make-do with thus far.

Where did all these fancy new mattresses come from and are they worth the expense?

You can’t have failed to notice all these new mattress brands with their fancy websites, innovative materials, detailed diagrams and convincing advertising campaigns.

Typically, these new mattresses are made from memory-foam and come vacuum packed and rolled-up in a box. There are many different brands and designs but one thing they all have in common is that they are not cheap.

And, just to confuse matters, you can buy similar style mattresses elsewhere for much less.

So why all the confusion with mattresses anyway.

In an ideal world, a mattress would be a simple enough product where you could compare like for like and quickly determine the best value.

But, of course, this doesn’t suit the manufacturers who need to make a hefty profit.

Mattresses are not that difficult to make but they are expensive to distribute and warehouse.

Different people also require different qualities so there is never going to be a ‘standard’ mattress. Even at the budget end of the market, there’s still a bewildering choice of options, after all.

So, what we had until recently, was a buoyant market with lots of demand and 1000’s of stores all making a profit from just selling mattresses.

Comparing different options was difficult because you had to go from one store to another. A lack of standardisation also meant it was difficult to compare on a like-for-like basis.

But then came the internet and removed a lot of these restrictions. ‘Bricks and mortar’ retailers could no longer rely on a steady stream of confused buyers and inflated prices to make a profit.

Volume became the name of the game and many simply could not compete with the big name internet retailers who’d already figured out the complexities of selling online.

But what this meant for the mattress business, aside from the premium brands who only sell through an authorised network, was much lower margins and, for some, a complete loss of custom.

So along came all singing, dancing mattresses that are ‘so much better’ than the mattresses you’ve been buying until now. All at a premium cost, of course.

But are they worth it?

By implying some kind of unique value and a bit of fancy marketing some companies have given their brands a bit of prestige, therefore justifying the hefty price tag.

It’s hard to say if these new mattresses are really good value though because it’s so subjective. If you’ve just replaced an old mattress just about anything is going to be more comfortable for a while.

Also, people are different and what one person finds uncomfortable someone else’s experience will the complete opposite.

It’s also hard to judge these mattresses on materials alone since foam and fabric are such common materials.

There are established brands in the market plus a lot of ‘me-too’ operators, which only leads to more confusion.

Some companies design and manufacture their own mattresses, some just design them and farm-out the manufacturing process overseas.

Some do neither of this and just pay to have a label sewn onto a generic product and spend a lot of money on advertising.

You pay your money and you make your choice…

As with traditional mattresses, there are some brands that have already have a good reputation and lots of good reviews. Some also have a rather generous no-quibble returns policy.

So if you’re not sure these brands will often be the most expensive but something of a safer bet.

Companies competing purely on price may be more of a risk but you could get a better deal. If you’re not happy with your purchase though you could be stuck with it?

Rather than buying directly, you’re probably better off going through an established retailer such as Argos or John Lewis because, if you do have problems, it’s much more likely you’ll get your money back.

Naturally, this means you miss some the biggest deals but you’ll lose a lot less sleep in the process.

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