The world of national mattress brands is one that’s far more intricate than most of us realize. These titans of the industry typically have extensive supply chains, stretching from manufacturer to consumer, where each link adds another layer to the price. More often than not, these brands prefer to sell captivating narratives instead of concrete value. Their strategic partnerships with big retail chains and their sizeable marketing teams play a pivotal role in creating these enticing tales.
Every time there's a wave of complaints about subpar quality, these brands manage to roll out a new model with a fresh story attached, which supposedly addresses the previous complaints. Ironically, these "new" models are often eerily similar to their predecessors. The savvy sales teams in the outlets know just how to persuade consumers that this latest model is the panacea for all past issues, and that the older models, now reduced in price, are outmoded. Frequently, these companies will pair inferior quality materials or craftsmanship with a glowing endorsement or some other kind of marketing ploy, consequently hiking up the price.
A notable case that significantly impacted mattress quality across the board was the advent of one-sided mattresses. Touted as a "convenient" and "beneficial" option, these models were in fact a strategic move to boost profits while reducing quality. The persuasive narrative accompanying these mattresses, coupled with a largely unperceptive consumer market, led many industry bigwigs to follow the trend. They chose either to downscale the quality of materials in two-sided mattresses or to create their own one-sided alternatives. These products, despite their significantly reduced manufacturing costs and durability, were sold at slightly lower prices that still didn’t mirror their true quality or production cost.
Modern features like pillow tops and euro tops, typically stuffed with low-quality polyfoam, have managed to find favor with consumers, who are easily swayed by their immediate comfort and store appeal. When these mattresses inevitably lose their charm or wear out ahead of schedule, there's always a new model in the wings, promising to "fix" the problems created by the very same manufacturers. A recent trend is the sale of "non-pillow top" mattresses boasting "higher quality materials," when, in reality, they might just be offering the same low-grade polyfoam with a few additional tweaks to sell a "new" narrative.
Quality and Durability of Mattresses from National Brands
However, amid the sea of profit-driven corporations, there are a few national brands still helmed by passionate "mattress people." Their approach may be more corporate than artisanal, but compared to the larger, often "S"-named brands, they tend to offer better value and pricing. Nonetheless, these value-focused national brands often show regional disparities in manufacturing due to varying ownership and operational strategies. It's quite astonishing to see the extent of the differences in mattresses carrying the same brand name across different regions.
These inconsistencies in quality and durability make purchasing from these mid-tier national brands (some of which are in the top 10 in terms of sales) a gamble unless you're well-informed about the variations and the manufacturing quality in your area. These brands can represent anything from excellent to poor value and everything in between. Their occasional misses have even been used by their larger competitors to propagate the myth that "off brands are worse," creating a roadblock to their market share growth.
While this myth has some basis in truth when talking about certain companies, it was unfortunately generalized to all alternate brands by many unsuspecting consumers. As a result, consumers increasingly chose to "play it safe" at the expense of truly high-quality regionaland local manufacturers that create exceptional mattresses.
A Little More on Value
While many of the large national brands struggle to compete with their smaller rivals in terms of quality and value, a few smaller national brands specialize in making mattresses that do offer these attributes. These brands can be slightly trickier to find due to their limited distribution networks. However, with a little research, you might find that these smaller national brands are worth considering. Some are even sold in larger chain stores, albeit with less prominence as the store might guide you towards more profitable or heavily advertised mattresses. These brands can also serve as a useful testing ground when you're trying to determine which type of mattress suits you best.
The "better" national brands can represent good - though not exceptional - value for those who have limited options in their local area (which is very rare), need to make a quick mattress purchase, or prefer to shop by brand rather than research materials and mattress construction differences.