Selling Sleep as a Luxury Commodity

Consumers’ busy lifestyles and today’s greater understanding that sleep enhances lives and health including goals like weight loss, mean that more brands are responding to the consumer pursuit of quality sleep. A slew of products offering better sleep include “Night Milk”, herbal supplements, and sleep monitoring and enhancing apps, calming baby toiletries and hotel and airline options. This comes at a time when sleep feels like a luxury amenity as time-pressed, digitally active consumers eat into their nightly slumber.

Blue light, “night milk” and 24/7 mobile accessories

Sleep Review, a journal for specialists recently reported on how German company Milchkristalle had found success selling “Night Milk”, from cows milked at night. Night time milking means the resulting milk contains up to 20 times more of the sleep hormone melatonin than standard milk.

This comes at a good time as 24/7 mobile connectivity is taken literally by many. Most people sleep holding their mobile phones according to a Motorola seven-country online study of over 7000 consumers published in late July 2015, which revealed highest percentages in India (74%) and China (70%). This attachment to mobiles at night exists despite well publicised studies indicating that the blue light from mobile devices disrupts rem patterns. Website Digital Trends has just turned its attention to how consumers can reduce the damaging effects of blue light on sleep. It highlights the special filters, protective glasses, light bulbs, and even software available. Among the most popular current sleep-enhancing software options is F.lux. It tweaks the colour of your computer’s display to the time of day, so it gets warmer at night and has more blue throughout the day. The Twilight app on Android does this too.

Hotels and airlines at your service

Airlines are competing to make air travel more relaxing. In early August 2015, Korean Air is promoting its ‘next generation’ “Kosmo Suites 2.0” with sliding doors for privacy and greater width to improve sleep quality, as well as ambient lighting and a new seat layout to minimise disturbance to sleeping passengers.

Quality sleep is also increasingly seen as a hotel unique selling point, with higher-end hotels offering patrons a choice of pillows and mattresses. A May 2015 Wall Street Journal article “Secrets of the World’s Best Hotel Beds”, points out that it’s really rest and not Wi-Fi or outstanding service that most luxury travellers are focused on. According to a 2014 Gallup survey, more than half of guests who stay in the highest-priced properties said they would pay more for an improved bed and most prioritised a comfortable bed. As author Lauren Lipton puts it: “We spend roughly a third of our life in bed. In hotel time, however, it’s more like half of our lives, making the bed arguably the most important element in the room”.

The introduction of Simmons mattress with a heat-absorbing core and interchangeable toppers in Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts was driven by a 2013 survey of US and foreign travellers showing that over 90% of respondents have a mattress firmness preference, with people under 35 (Millennials) most likely to gripe about hotel beds—and to do this publicly, on social media and travel-review sites.

Digital pillow talk

Business Insider reports how new start-up, Helix Sleep, launched on the 4th of August 2015, will persuade you to buy your next mattress online. Buyers respond to an online questionnaire and receive a custom mattress based on four key metrics: feel, support, temperature regulation, and “point elasticity” (how well a mattress supports a part of your body that protrudes, like an elbow).

An article in “Sleep Savvy”, a 2014 trade magazine for industry products professionals, while touching on new high tech beds like Select Comfort’s Sleep Number x12 that monitor user sleep patterns, criticised brands for focussing on pricing and product features instead of on how quality sleep helps consumers. As many consumers turn to search engines at the start of their hunt for better bedding, brands are urged to link product information to terms such as better sleep, sleep deprivation and sleep facts. As younger consumers expect tech-led updates, mattress brands and retailers are communicating via digital tools. bedMATCH offers an initial online followed by an in-store module that builds a shopper profile based on unique sleep preferences and has reportedly boosted bed upgrades. Kingsdown’s Sleep Smart system comes with an app that provides daily summaries of sleep statistics and tips.

Can sleep deprivation be put to bed?

A majority of American adults (85%) say they have problems sleeping at night according to Better Sleep Council surveys from April 2013 and September 2012. A plethora of ‘natural’ products such as herbal supplements, sleep-inducing apps and recordings, are available alongside medicines to assist consumers with insomnia. By November 2014, according to xyo.net, the Sleep Cycle alarm clock saw 6.1 million downloads on iPhones.