Bear CEO, Scott Paladini, recently sat down with Tuck Sleep. As part of their ongoing Mattress Executive interview series, Scott talks about Bear and his thoughts on the mattress industry.
Tuck: Please introduce yourself and let our readers know how you came into the mattress world?
Scott: I grew up in the mattress business. My dad was a retailer and ran a large chain of mattress stores. I spent summers through high school and college working in stores and the warehouse, learning the business – not just the mattress business, but the business of understanding customers and how to deliver a better experience, a better product and a better value. Those early foundations are what led to the creation of Bear Mattress in 2014 and have carried forth over the last four years. We have over 50,000 happy sleepers on a Bear, low return rates, high customer satisfaction all while offering great value to our customers.
Bear is a brand centered around the athlete, especially with the stable of professional athletes listed on the website as sleeping on a Bear mattress. It has the feel of being somewhat of an aspirational brand, what that the thought process from the outset?
Our mattresses and products are built and designed for everyone, and we put an emphasis, not on athletes, but recovery. The fact that we have a lot of professional athletes is a testament to the product doing a great job in helping people recover. Whether you are a professional athlete or have a physically demanding job or just generally active in your life, our mattresses can provide the relief you need every night so you wake up feeling great each morning.
If someone does not deem themselves as an ‘athlete’ at this moment, that shouldn’t deter them from purchasing a Bear, correct?
Of course not, in fact, we think that we offer a product mix that anyone would fine appealing – we have our graphite-gel memory foam mattress and our hybrid mattress – two unique offers that offer something to every, plus all our beds are made with Celliant which helps promote a more restful sleep. Athlete or not, everyone deserves a great night sleep and we deliver that with both our mattresses.
With the original Bear Mattress being engineered for athletes, how was a the design of a hybrid mattress made to meet those same needs?
All the same thoughts went into the Hybrid as with the original Bear. The big difference is that we were working with feedback from tens of thousands of customers and that gave us a lot of insight. A completely different style vs just a “step-up” foam bed made way more sense to us.
The Bear mattress is now available in some Macy’s locations. How has this helped to grow the brand being in a retail store, and what have you learned from having the mattress at a retail location?
I come from a retail background and I may be in the minority, but I still believe physical stores will have a big part in the mattress buying experience for years to come. It’s going to change, but stores will still be important. For us, Macy’s partnership just made a lot of sense. It gives our customers a chance to try the bed, learn more and get a sense of the product before making the purchase. We plan to continue to grow our physical presence over the coming years.
With the Bear original and Bear Hybrid, are they thoughts as to developing an additional mattress offering?
We are always evaluating new product opportunities. We just launched our Celliant Sheets. Our sheets have been in the works for a while and they are awesome.
There is no question that people are much more likely to take the time to post a negative review online than a positive review, frankly it is just human nature. That said, what initiatives have you taken a brand to nudge your satisfied customers to leave reviews, and spread the word of their positive experience?
I think the product drives reviews. Give your customers a lousy product and experience, they’ll leave negative feedback. Give your customers an average product and experience, they won’t leave any feedback. Give your customers an amazing product and experience, they’ll leave positive feedback. With over 5000 five star reviews, I think it speaks volumes to both the overall customer experience when buying a Bear and the high quality products we sell.
Casper just had their 4th anniversary in April, with the explosion of the online mattress sector and millions and millions of advertising dollars spent by the biggest players in the space, do you feel that has brought awareness to other brands in the space, simply that a mattress can be purchased online and delivered to your home?
Maybe in the beginning, but I think online mattress shopping has crossed over from early adapters to the mass market and at this point, it’s about brand differentiation, value and quality of the products.
With more brands entering the space on a weekly basis and the 100 night sleep trial offered by most companies, do you foresee a method in the future to essentially qualify a consumer to understand if a particular mattress will work for them? We all want to avoid returns, not just for the expense, but because of the environmental impact as well, so seems as if an extra emphasis needs to be put on educating the consumer, correct?
It’s tough, but one of the ways we have tried to help customers is having more than one type of style – we have a memory foam bed and a more traditional spring bed with our hybrid. We can speak to customers, learn more about them and try to help them make the best decision. Our customer team is available 7 days a week, it’s all in-house, full time employees and they all have a vested interest in making sure the customer is happy. That’s not something most companies can offer.
The online mattress brands have taken a good chunk of business from the brick and mortar stores. Do you see that trend continuing over the next 24 months?
We are always evaluating new product opportunities. We just launched our Celliant Sheets. Our sheets have been in the works for a while and they are awesome.I think online segment will continue to grow, but maybe not as rapidly as the past couple years. For as much as the mattress market has changed, I think you’ll continue to see big changes over the next 24 months.