Las Vegas Market exhibitors make the best of a difficult situation with limited showroom openings and lots of virtual tours
It was no surprise that foot traffic at the Summer Las Vegas Market was low. Some of the feet not treading the halls of the World Market Center Aug. 30-Sept. 3 were our own. The editors of BedTimes did not pack our bags and board planes for the summer market. Instead, we gathered intelligence about the show, read news releases and attended virtual events.
Organizer International Market Centers reported that attendance was down 80% compared with the summer 2019 event. Originally scheduled for July 26-30, IMC moved the show back a month, staggered attendance by dividing the show into two sessions, and laid out careful health and safety protocols for exhibitors and attendees. It also canceled all special events, seminars and activities that normally are a part of the event. Even so, with many concerned about travel and crowds, some bedding exhibitors who earlier had planned to open their showrooms changed their minds as the dates approached and COVID-19 infection rates continued to climb.
Tempur Sealy International Inc. was one of the exhibitors that “out of an abundance of caution” opted not to open its Sealy, Stearns & Foster and Tempur-Pedic showrooms. A majority of bedding industry exhibitors followed suit.
Unrelated to the pandemic, Atlanta-based mattress major Serta Simmons Bedding LLC announced in May it was permanently closing its Serta and Beautyrest showrooms and would hold its own trade show. (See sidebar below.)
Whether physically present at the summer market or not, many companies created virtual showroom and product tours. In some cases, buyers could schedule in-person product presentations at factory showrooms or at a manufacturer’s headquarters.
The handful of exhibitors in bedding that were open in Las Vegas operated with a socially distanced skeleton staff and carefully controlled traffic flow through their showrooms.
Taking virtual tours
Industry exhibitors reached out to retailers with a range of virtual shopping options. These ran the gamut from pretaped videos hosted on YouTube to individual Zoom meetings to personalized virtual showroom visits conducted from afar.
Nashville-based manufacturer Southerland Inc. didn’t open its showroom but did launch Southerland Connects. It consisted of one-on-one product demonstrations at six Southerland factory showrooms. It also delivered product samples and point-of-sale materials directly to retailers who were unable to travel.
The executive team from mattress licensing group and manufacturer Eclipse International, in North Brunswick, New Jersey, did not attend the Summer Las Vegas Market. But it did offer a new twist on the virtual product tour. Eclipse’s showroom in Las Vegas was open, and buyers there could schedule one-on-one walkthroughs with Eclipse team members using smartphone teleconferencing.
Logan, Utah-based Malouf, a distributor of everything from sleep accessories to home furnishings, was open for business at the Las Vegas Market, but also offered a virtual tour of its spacious showroom. Housed on its website, the tour’s panoramic still images guided visitors through the showroom, allowing them to look all around the space and to drill down to the company’s product categories, bestselling products and new offerings.
Therapedic International, a licensing group headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, created detailed videos of its four featured collections — b-calm, Bravura, MemoryTouch and TheraLux HD Ice.
“Through engaging video of our Vegas showroom and newest collections, Therapedic is ensuring a safe, comfortable and convenient way for retailers to experience virtually our enhanced and refreshed lines that are designed to help drive business through the rest of the year,” said Gerry Borreggine, Therapedic president and chief executive officer.
Instead of opening its showroom, sleep products supplier Soft-Tex International launched a “virtual market experience.” The Waterford, New York-based company posted a YouTube video showcasing its products and innovations and hosted individual Zoom meetings with customers to review and demonstrate its latest offerings.
Ahead of the market, Tempur Sealy conducted a well-attended webinar Aug. 26 on updates to Retail Edge. The program launched a few years ago and provides retailers with guidance on advertising, merchandising and training. The latest initiative, Retail Edge Rebound, offers solutions and tools to retailers based on four emerging consumer trends that TSI research has uncovered, the company said. These include concern for safety and security as permanent behaviors, product discovery moving off the showroom floor, the necessity that retailers connect with shoppers’ new economic mindset, and the fact that a decade’s worth of digital trends have evolved in the space of a few months.
TSI also hosted individual retailer meetings at its headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, as well as at Sealy and Tempur-Pedic plants around the country.
Adjustable base, mattress and accessories supplier Reverie made the difficult decision not to open its Las Vegas showroom. Instead, the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based company communicated with customers using its Reverie Partner Network, launched in 2017. It offered the best way for customers to receive “an individualized digital experience,” the company said. The web portal provides retailers with exclusive access to new product introductions, comprehensive content on Reverie’s products, training resources and the latest in sleep science.”
Manufacturer Kingsdown, headquartered in Mebane, North Carolina, did not open its showroom. Instead, it invited retailers to visit a private, virtual showroom that included video introductions of each product, as well as details and talking points, and more. In addition to featuring all collections, the new portal introduced Fresh Start. The three-bed hybrid collection at an affordable $699 to $999 price point, is meant to help retailers kickstart their business.
There were new products
By all accounts, about a dozen showrooms were open among exhibitors we normally visit in Las Vegas. Despite the show’s light attendance — or maybe because of it — some exhibitors reported picking up new customers. And a handful had new products on the floor.
St. Louis-based Boyd Sleep was open for business and expanded its collection of inflatable guest beds under two licensed brand names. There was the Nautica Home airbed in five assorted sizes and styles priced from $69 to $199. Boyd also licensed the Beautyrest Silver name for another line of inflatable guest beds. Models in the group retails from $149 to $199 in different sizes and styles, including the Duet model that has side-by-side adjustability for two sleepers.
Diamond Mattress, headquartered in Compton, California, added a number of boxed bed collections —
Aspen Cool, Carbon Ice, Ethos Natural, Ethos Organic, Onyx Ice and Restore Copper. Mattress constructions include all-foam and latex to hybrid designs with pocket springs. All use premium components and the company’s patented coil system, ship nationwide, and are made in the United States. Prices range from $899 to $1,999.
“(Our) vertical integration and own coiling operation enable us to ship on time, and this is proving to be a key differentiator among retail partners who are seeing a nice demand for product now,” said Diamond President Shaun Pennington.
Mlily USA, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, expanded its collection of foam pillows. They are available in three heights and priced from $99 to $129.
Premium Italian mattress maker Magniflex introduced the Gino boxed bed priced at $1,299. Gino is a single mattress packed in a tall, narrow “spaghetti box,” a playful tribute to the Prato, Italy-based company’s roots. Inside the 10-inch foam bed are proprietary foam formulations, including the company’s signature memory foam, as well as latex foam. It has a cooling cover made with CoolMax yarns.
Serta Simmons Holds Its Own Trade Show
Mattress major Serta Simmons Bedding LLC, which announced the closure of its Las Vegas Market showrooms, replaced its participation at the wholesale furniture market with its first virtual trade show Sept. 23-25.
Day one of the 2020 Leading the Way trade show was opened by celebrity chef and television personality G. Garvin, followed by messages from SSB Chief Marketing Officer Melanie Huet and Chief Sales Officer Derek Miller. Brand directors for the Serta, Simmons and Beautyrest brands spoke and the day wrapped up with Q&A sessions, drawings and prizes. Days two and three provided in-depth “product immersion” tours.