Casper Mattresses

 

“The paradox of innovation is that it is accepted as an innovation when it has become imitation.”
Piero Scaruffi


 

I recently came across an advert on one of my social media networks about an inside look that CNN did for Casper Mattresses. Phrases such as “CNN’s Fareed Zakaria sees innovation in action” and “This startup is giving the Mattress Industy a Wake-Up Call.” Naturally these Ad Copies stirred up my marketing and investing interests so I decided to dive in and see what this is all about.

Unfortunately I felt underwhelmed.

CNN’s reports the company as “Disrupters” and having “Over 1.5 Million In Investments.” Time even named it one of the “25 Best Inventions of 2015…”


 

The Bed in a Box

Martin Gee for TIME
Casper Mattress / $500+
Available at Casper.comBuying a new mattress is a lot like purchasing a used car: stressful, confusing and likely to overwhelm you with options. “We want to cut the clutter,” says Philip Krim, CEO of Casper, one of many startups upending the sleep industry, including Leesa and Tuft & Needle. The model is simple: create one mattress style; up the comfort factor (using a mix of foams); set clear prices; and sell it online (cutting costs, so prices remain low). Once the mattress arrives—it’s vacuum-packed in a cardboard box—customers get a 100-day trial period during which they can return it for a full refund. But that rarely happens, says Krim. Casper’s sales are expected to exceed $75 million this year, making it a leader among its startup competitors.—Victor Luckerson


 

 

…and it’s surprises me because I saw neither disruption of an industry in any form and nothing to warrant 1.5 million in investment.

There seemed to be a big emphasis on direct to consumer online shipping available for customers but really that’s a pretty standard service in most industry’s nowadays and nothing proprietary in terms of the product they are producing as it’s just a combination of latex and memory foam.

I mean seriously, what would their competitive advantage be in this industry? Who is their target consumer that they believe they could change the mind of that they provide the superior product and service? I guess let’s try and figure it out:

  • Cost – Doing a quick google search a low end, generic brand, queen size bed goes for $200 – $500 and the high end market mattress with all the bells and whistles ranges from $3,000+. The Casper Mattress goes for $850.
  • Selection – The Casper Mattress limits the choices by providing a quality “One Size Fits All” type of deal in regards to firmness.
  • Warranty – Casper provides a 10-year warranty and the standard mattress warranty’s range from 5 – 20 years and a 100 day free trial which again is standard.
  • Target – Consumer market only. Perhaps some commercial markets could use it but that’s not their target market.

Okay maybe there is some novelty towards the initial presentation of the product being shipped to you in a box but honestly it’s a one time event and won’t happen again in a minimum of 10 years if the mattress lasts as long as expected.

Philip Krim emphasizes in the Time article that they want to “cut the clutter.” Honestly, all I see is a middle cost middle quality mattress and was subtracted one decision, which was the level of firmness and in a sense that’s who they are targeting I assume? The middle everything consumer with no time. To me though that’s too much of a broad market with no huge incentive for that consumer to choose Casper over another.

Webster’s Dictionary defines Innovation as: “Something new or different introduced.” 

Maybe if an entirely different material never before used. An approach where the mattress is on a slight angle due to a research towards better sleep efficiency. Or how about a vertical mattress because sleeping standing up is the future. Or even some sort of specialization and cornering of a market of some sort based on geography or something? Japanese inspired for example? (though they sleep on the tatami mats basically but I’m just trying to break from the norm here.)

It’s just another Mattress to me. An imitation that had some good marketing. But if it succeeds to gobble up some of that 9 billion dollar industry’s market share, what do you the industry leaders will do about it? Nothing? They’ll apply their resources to address the threat and there’s nothing Casper will be able to do about it.

References:

  1. Innovation in Action: Casper Mattress – http://www.cnn.com/videos/bestoftv/2014/11/27/exp-gps-casper-sot-innovators.cnn
  2. https://casper.com/
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