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Tip For Consumer Reports And One-Size-Fits All Mattress Recommendations

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Michael Magnuson - GoodBed.com

As founder of a mattress information website, people often ask me what I think of the information that Consumer Reports provides about mattresses. This question comes up enough that I thought I’d share my answer publicly.

What do I think about Consumer Reports mattress information?

Let me start by saying that I love Consumer Reports. I’m a big fan of their mission and methodology, and a long-time reader of their publications. Over the years, their information has helped me with numerous household purchases, from cars to kitchen appliances. Their model of providing ‘one-size-fits-all’ evaluations for select products serves most categories very well.

Unfortunately, in the mattress category, the Consumer Reports approach has two critical downfalls:

Problem #1: There is NO ‘best mattress’ for everyone.

This is perhaps the first thing that every mattress shopper should know. In fact, there is not even such a thing as a ‘great mattress’ for everyone. Not even at a given price point. In short, this is a complete fallacy. As a fan of Consumer Reports, it’s very disappointing to see them perpetuate this fundamental misunderstanding. The reality is that everyone’s mattress needs are unique — depending (for example) on your body’s specific size and shape, and your personal comfort preferences.

Mattresses are actually more like pants than they are like washing machines. As such, publishing a list of the ‘best mattresses’ is kinda like saying the ‘best pair of pants’ is the Levi’s 535 Slim Cut Jeans in a size 7 Long. Obviously, it would be crazy to recommend this exact pair of pants for everyone… Similarly, a useful mattress recommendation needs to be more specific about which type of people would be well-served by it, and which wouldn't.

Problem #2: Every mattress is a good match for someone.

At any given time, there are thousands of available mattress models, each of which is right for some combination of personal preferences and price. So, how many models are covered in the heavily promoted new study from Consumer Reports (forthcoming in the May 2013 issue)? A grand total of...12 models!

Most mattress retailers will have at least one mattress model that is a great match for you -- the challenge is in choosing the right one. The average mattress store has 40-60 unique models on their sales floor, and there are thousands more listed on GoodBed from across the country. Unfortunately, if you’re a Consumer Reports devotee considering any of these other fine models, you’re out of luck!

Is there hope for Consumer Reports in the mattress category?

Consumer Reports is a great organization with a noble mission. In many ways, our mission at GoodBed.com is to be the Consumer Reports of the mattress category. We aspire to the level of trust and respect that Consumer Reports has earned over its many years, but aim to develop a specialized solution that meets the unique needs of the mattress category.

That said, there are things that Consumer Reports can do that will be hard for us to offer. For example, predicting durability is a very important question in the area of mattresses. Scientific studies of durability require specialized equipment, a large laboratory, and significant expertise in testing and measuring such things. We hope to see more from Consumer Reports in this area, and would even be interested in partnering with them in this regard.

In the meantime, we urge Consumer Reports to refrain from misleading consumers into thinking they can rely on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ list of mattress recommendations. Mattress shoppers are confused, and desperate for a simple answer like a list of the ‘best mattresses.’ It’s incumbent upon reputable information sources like Consumer Reports to protect them from this type of misinformation, not foist it upon them.

About Michael Magnuson: Michael Magnuson is the founder and CEO of GoodBed.com, the leading online research destination for mattress shoppers. He has nearly 15 years of experience in the digital media industry, as both an entrepreneur and a private equity investor. Michael graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and received his MBA from Stanford University. Questions about this article or any topic related to bedding sales and marketing can be directed to him at www.goodbed.com/contact or call 415 738-9500.

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