Retailing in India: From Waking Up to Sleeping Soundly

The increasing preference of the health-and-wellness-conscious consumers of India for “scientific” mattresses is transforming the way they’re bought at retail
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Posted June 28, 2019

Attitudes to wellness in India have changed considerably in the past five years, owing to a growing, highly mobile, young middle class, which is well informed, well traveled and globally connected. This segment has shown high willingness to pay for specialized products that enhance their health and wellness. Brands are responding to this trend by employing the use of ergonomics, anthropometrics, engineering and technology in product innovation across categories, such as furniture, sports gear, footwear, technology, mobility and appliances.

In tune with this trend, health and wellness experts in India have been evangelizing the need for good sleep to deal with the stress today’s busy lifestyle brings. The result is the elevation of the humble mattress, from a basic soft surface to a ”scientific” product developed from medical and engineering sciences.  Increased awareness, multichannel availability and a rise in disposable income have all driven the growth of preference for scientific mattresses among the increasingly discerning consumer segments. As per RedSeer Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd. (“Overview of Mattress Market in India”), the Indian mattress market reached $1.7 billion USD in 2018 and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 percent to reach $2.5 billion USD by 2022.

Today mattresses, broadly classified into the types “coir,” “polyurethane foam” and “spring,” serve the domestic, hospitality and healthcare segments, with about 80 percent being dominated by the domestic segment. Though the acceptance of good quality branded mattresses has driven sales across online and offline stores, the majority of Indian consumers prefer to sit and feel their mattress before making a serious investment. Hence, brands are focusing on providing educative product trials in physical environments created with experiential store design, visual merchandising and consultative service.

The increased revenue contribution from this product category has raised its status from an add-on category in home and furniture stores to a shop-in-shop or an exclusive store. Though the Indian mattress market today offers established international brands like King Koil and Tempur-Pedic, it is dominated by widely distributed Indian brands, such as Kurlon, MM Foam, Duroflex, Sleepzone, Dunlopillo, as well as private labels of omnichannel brands Pepperfry and Urban Ladder. A close look reveals that there are three emerging trends in mattress retailing in India – the “Experience Center,” the “Flagship” and the “Specialty Corner.”

THE EXPERIENCE CENTER: PEPPERFRY SNOOZE

Pepperfry, the largest omnichannel furniture store in India, enjoys a customer base of more than 3.5 million Indian homes, converted from more than five million visits from more than 500 cities. Recently it launched Pepperfry Snooze, focused on offering sleep solutions. The exclusive private label store offers a curated range of mattresses, pillows, comforters and bed sheets, all in an environment designed to deliver the brand’s empathy and competency in a compact space of roughly 600 square feet. The store experience is designed to evoke the idea of trying out the products, to educate through storytelling and to provoke the latent product need in an uncluttered environment featuring three distinct zones: entice, educate and experience. A color palette in hues of blues and whites accented by light wood helps create a memorable brand environment.

THE FLAGSHIP: KURL-ON

Kurl-On is a pioneer in the Indian mattress industry with a strong brand preference built from a heritage of 57 years and a wide network of more than 10,000 dealers across India. Its state-of-the art manufacturing facility manufactures spring, foam, rubberized coir and therapeutic mattresses for beds and sofas in 126 configurations. To cater to the need of trial before purchase, Kurl-On’s flagship stores offer the complete product range in an aspirational and consultative, modern, casual, café-inspired setting. A palette with its brand color complemented with pop colors adds a youthful feel to the store’s identity and presentation. Visual merchandising and communication play a significant role in providing silent assistance in making informed decisions when selecting the perfect fit from the range offered in store.

THE SPECIALTY CORNER: URBAN LADDER

Urban Ladder, established in 2012, is an omnichannel furniture and decor retailer with a large distribution channel across more than 75 cities in India. The brand, being design-led, is a collaboration of 5000-plus designs across 35 categories, offering curated solutions for living, dining, bedroom, study and decor. Urban Ladder’s business model encourages external designers to bring in more innovative additions to  the brand’s in-house creations. Having opened its first offline store in 2017, today the brand is rolling out many more across the country. The mattress corner, which features a “mattress tech wall” with information and samples to help shoppers make informed decisions, is prominently located in the bedroom solutions department.

WAKING UP

With the Indian consumer becoming increasingly aware of the connection between good sleep and good health, the demand for specialized branded mattresses has been growing exponentially. As reported by RedSeer Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd., about 25 branded mattress manufacturers account for 34 percent of the market, which is growing at a CAGR of about 13 percent. With the branded mattresses players having awoken to the reality of steadily increasing demand, Indians consumers are sure to benefit from enhanced mattress shopping experiences – as well as peaceful sleep – in the years to come.   

Surender has more than two decades of experience in the Indian retail industry in retail strategy, store design, planning and development, retail marketing, visual merchandising, writing and academia. He’s held senior positions at leading retailers like Shoppers Stop, Reliance Retail, Mahindra Retail and as a senior retail consultant working with leading retailers and brands in India. Reach him at surenderg.retail@gmail.com.