An Interview With Bedstar Digital Marketing Director, Jonathan Stalker

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If you’re a fan of sleep products and want to know what’s going on and where the industry could be going next, then have we got an article for you. 

We sat down and had a chat with Jonathan Stalker, our Digital Marketing Director, who gave us a view from the inside of some of the things that have been happening in the industry, a few thoughts on what might happen next and how consumers can shop for their beds more easily. 

Ready for a little extra insight? Let’s get going….

What’s trending?

What’s cool and what’s not? From what Jonathan tells us, it seems storage, cosiness and aesthetics are the order of the day for consumers when it comes to sleep products and bedroom furnishings. Consumers want practical but also elegant. Jonathan shares a couple of trends he has observed with us:

Fabric upholstered frames

Upholstered frames are soft, cosy and add a real pop of colour to your bedroom. You can buy them in a variety of colours to match your tastes and existing décor. They can even help regulate temperature in the different seasons. The heat-retaining properties of the material offer an extra layer of insulation against the bedroom wall.

It’s perhaps for all these reasons that fabric upholstered frames have been a real seller this year for Bedstar. If you’re looking to get on trend, a fabric upholstered bed frame could be the way to go. The ‘in’ colours? Potentially, yellow and blue. Jonathan tells us more:

‘Fabric upholstered bed frames will still be the big seller this year as they have been for the previous two years, with grey tones being the colour of choice. We are seeing an uprising in brighter pastel tones though, such as yellow and blue, so the tide may be beginning to change later in the year.’

This reflects a general trend Jonathan has noticed: a greater focus on interior design elements. A bed is no longer just a piece of furniture that serves a practical purpose. It’s a focal point of a bedroom, something which manufacturers have recognised. This is one of the reasons why they offer so much variety in terms of colours, whereas previously they’d have only provided beds in a single colour.

The rise of ottomans (the beds!)

Of course, the big benefit of an ottoman bed is the extra storage space. Buying an ottoman bed helps you to keep a room clutter free. Not only that, often you don’t have to assemble them because the manufacturer has already fitted the lifting mechanism for you.  It’s just a case of attaching a headboard. It would appear that ottoman beds are in – and are so in a big way. Jonathan explains further:

 ‘The biggest trend I’ve seen in the last few years is the introduction of the ottoman lift bed (this is when the top part of the bed base can be lifted up on hydraulic arms and the entire interior space of the bed can be used as storage). Although we traditionally always have had drawers in bed bases, the ottoman base allows up to four times more storage space than drawers, which has proven a big hit! It really makes sense when you think about it as, in modern times, houses seem to be getting smaller and people are crying out for more storage space!’

Handy tips for bed buyers

Labels and product descriptions can be confusing, unless the customer knows exactly what they’re looking for. Doing a little homework by researching into beds can help you to focus on the product itself and not become distracted by salespeople, prices or other factors. Here are a few little tricks from Jonathan to help you clear up any confusion when buying a mattress:

Analyse product descriptions

When you’re in a store, salespeople can be a little too hungry to make the sale. In their enthusiasm, they may fail to address some of the important details you need to know when you’re buying a mattress.

Jonathan warns consumers that some retailers will also use gimmicks to attract the sale, so you should pay careful attention to product descriptions. Sometimes they’re confusing. Other times they’re simply misleading, so you should also watch out for them. Take the spring count, for instance:

‘Don’t buy into the gimmicks. As an example, some mattresses can advertise 10 000 springs, which makes you think you’re getting a better mattress than, say, a bed with 2 000 springs. What they’re not telling you here is they’re just taking one spring and cutting it into five separate springs which would have no extra benefits when you lay on it!’

Consider the core structure of the mattress

Jonathan tells us that product labels can cause confusion for consumers who shop around before buying a mattress. He suggests the solution is a question of paying attention to the core structure and fill of the mattress so they can compare mattresses more easily: 

‘Product misdirection can leave consumers feeling confused if they visit several different bed stores. Manufacturers tend to white label their products to give the retailer the opportunity to create their own product names. From a consumer standpoint, you could be looking at exactly the same product in four different stores without realising it as the names of the product would be slightly altered. My advice here would be to pay more attention to the fillings and core structure of the product so you can easily compare elements if you’re wanting to visit several stores to find the best price.’

In this case, elements to consider, then, would be:

  • Spring count.
  • Spring type.
  • Fill.
  • Comfort.
  • Size.

Beware of false economy

Factors such as the mattress size, brand and filling all influence the price of a mattress. A good mattress can last anywhere between 6 and 10 years or even a little more. The price of a mattress can range from as little as £100 up to several thousands, depending on the quality of the mattress. Jonathan warns against skimping on the cost of your mattress:

‘Be careful not to buy too cheap as this can be a false economy. A really cheap bed or mattress may only last a year, so you’ll find yourself having to spend again sooner than you think.’

Jonathan isn’t the only one who is concerned for consumers when it comes to the subject of cheap mattresses. The National Bed Federation also suggests that consumers take care if they’re trying to save money on mattresses, especially if they’re considering buying a secondhand mattress. The federation recommends consumers buy from a reputable retailer so they can receive professional advice, guarantees and good customer service.

A bed is an investment in your wellbeing, at the end of the day, which is why it pays to spend more on a bed. Still, if you find yourself wondering why beds are so expensive, Jonathan clears this up for you:

‘I would say you get what you pay for. Investing in a good quality, comfortable bed is one of the best investments you can make. A bed is one of the most used products on Earth as, on average, we spend one third of our lives using it! If you opt for a reputable manufacturer that can offer guarantees of up to 12 years then, relatively speaking, if you bought a good quality bed for £800 it actually works out at less than 19p a night, which is well worth the money for a great night’s sleep!’

What does the bed industry have in store next for consumers?

There have been a variety of predictions regarding mattresses and the wider sleep products industry. Of note have been the observation of a rise in focus on interior design and home furnishing and an increase in smart mattresses, both of which will drive growth in the industry. Challenges the industry faces include the volatile price of raw materials. 

What other things may we see in the industry?

The return of leather fabric

In the fashion world, leather has a timeless, cool quality to it. No matter when you wear leather, it will always look fashionable. In autumn 2019, it was all about the leather biker jacket, although leather trousers, skirts and even shirts were all in, too. That’s the fashion world, though. Leather doesn’t have to remain confined to trends in clothing. With a smile, Jonathan foresees a day when leather will make a comeback to the sleep industry:

‘When we first started, beds upholstered in leather fabric were all the rage, but now people have turned to more standard fabrics like velvet and linen. I’m sure leather beds will come back again as is likely with most fashion!’

Greater incorporation of sleep tech in products

Do you watch TV in bed? Do you use sleep trackers or mood lights? These are just examples of how tech and the world of sleep products are starting to merge. According to Jonathan, we’ll start to see sleep devices become more a part of bedroom furniture. He also mentions the surge in the integration of entertainment devices into beds, which may also become something of a trend in sleep product design and manufacture as Jonathan explains below:

‘We’re already seeing a lot of sleep tech emerging with devices that can monitor your sleeping habits, mood lights that can adjust to your sleeping time clock and apps that help you fall asleep with stories and breathing exercises, so it’s fair to say it’s just a matter of time before these devices are fused into our bedroom furniture. We’re already seeing a surge in entertainment devices being merged into beds, with soundbars and phone ports being built into bed frames, which makes sense as we do spend a high percentage of our time connected to the product.’

Some final thoughts

It’s all happening in the beds industry. With the insight above, savvy consumers can find what they want a little easier and follow some of the latest trends when it comes to buying their bed and keeping up with what’s going on in the world of interior design. What will happen next? The integration of sleep tech into beds looks like it could be the next big thing in the manufacture of beds. We may also see the (welcome) return of leather. The beds industry will be a space to watch for all you interior design fans out there!

We thank Jonathan for his time and insight.

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