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rdmBlueBackgroundBY RICHARD DE MELIM


There is a popular theory in the bed industry that of all the recent startups in the rolled, folded and boxed mattress segment, one or two will emerge as winners with the rest falling by the wayside.


It is a plausible theory, but it is not the only one.


For example, it is perfectly feasible that all of them fail. What is increasingly clear, however, is that any or all that do succeed will do so with a business model that has evolved significantly from that at the time of launch.


The idea that a one-product route to market will win out is losing traction. Eve Sleep, whose IPO last year means its activities are more exposed to public scrutiny than rivals, has become the latest mattress upstart to diversify its offer (see related).


It has been adding new ancillary products for a while but has now launched a second mattress — a hybrid of springs and foam — to augment its original memory foam mattress.


In the U.S, Casper has already added several alternative mattresses, though here in the UK its offer remains centred on its legacy product.


Simba has also added a new premium product — Simba Luxe, retailing at £1,899 for a king size — to its existing product roster, while others, such as Emma, have also doubled up with a second mattress product. How long before Leesa Sleep follows suit?


My belief is that a one-product route to market can be successful, but only if the business is predicating on reaching a relatively niche market and with the company being happy trading at a certain size, probably with sales of no more than £10 million and a tight control over costs.


Expanding beyond that, profitably — as all the entrants to this market have ambitions to do — requires a more expansive offer, and more flexibility over how the product is sold.


This is evidenced not just by the new mattress brands' collective willingness to add new products to reach a wider audience, but also in their decision to partner up with established retailers and distributors to get their product on more shop floors.


A one-size-fits-all approach, both in terms of product and strategy, is becoming increasingly redundant.


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