Bargain mad Britons could be wrecking their chance of a good night’s sleep because they would rather scrimp on the price of a new mattress – and save on the time needed to try it out.
According to the results of a major, European wide survey* into consumer bed buying habits, the UK tops the league when it comes to lack of sleep. 45% of us claim not to get enough compared to an average of 35% across the rest of Europe.
Yet despite close on half of us feeling we don’t get enough sleep, less than one in 10 Brits have yet to make the link between poor sleep and the quality of their bed or mattress. Only 9% thought the quality of their bed/mattress disturbed their sleep while twice as many (18%) of their more ‘rested’ counterparts in Europe have sussed the connection between good sleep and good beds.
One reason could be that Britons are much more likely than their continental cousins to buy mattresses online (where they can’t try them out first) rather than through traditional retail outlets (where they can). 16% of those questioned in the UK, compared to 12% in Europe said they had bought online.
According to the new study, part funded by the UK’s National Bed Federation, British bed buyers are also more price sensitive than their European counterparts with 52% saying price was important to their purchasing decision as opposed to 45% across the rest of Europe. Indeed 41% of those questioned in the UK agreed that they would only buy a mattress if it was on sale – only 16% of those questioned across Europe said special discount offers were important.
And 73% of bargain-hunting Brits won’t pay more than £750 (1,000 euros) for a double mattress.
Could it be this pre-occupation with price that drives so many Brits to buy online? Jessica Alexander, executive director of The National Bed Federation certainly believes there’s a link: “Online is quite definitely where a lot of budget mattresses are sold and if people don’t try before they buy, no wonder so many of them don’t feel they are getting a good night’s sleep.
“Buying online certainly has a role to play in today’s world and it’s not exclusively the domain of bargain beds – some very good mattresses can be bought on the internet too. But our advice to people would always be to try before you buy so that you can be sure the mattress you are buying is comfortable for you. It’s a very subjective purchase and what’s right for one person doesn’t suit another.”
This ‘race to the bottom’ could also explain the apparent dissatisfaction of many Brits with mattress purchases in the past few years. According to the research, 47% of the UK sample had replaced their mattress in less than five years compared to only 30% of Europeans. Said Jessica: “While we recommend that people should look to change a good mattress every seven years, the fact that so many people in this country are doing it in under five would indicate they were not altogether happy with the mattress they had. Perhaps that’s not surprising if it was a really cheap one which they didn’t even try out.”
The growing shift to online sales could also account for Britain’s love of brands as a buying reassurance. Buying a well-known brand was deemed important by 16% of those questioned in the UK but only by 11% of Europeans.
The main reasons for buying online were: delivered to my door (favoured by 72% of those questioned in the UK as opposed to 64% in Europe); lower prices (69% UK, 55% Europe); saves time (69% UK, 54% Europe).
Plus there’s the fact that shopping for a bed still isn’t considered much fun. Just over half of Brits (54%) and Europeans (58%) said it was.
Europe is also divided by very different preferences when it comes to the type of bed people buy. 40% of the UK sample felt memory foam was the best mattress technology while across the rest of Europe the figure was a much lower 25%.
Over there, latex, is the second most favoured foam, popular with16% of Europeans. In the UK it was only favoured by 2% of those questioned with their second favourite technology being pocket springs (23% of those questioned in the UK as opposed to 14% in Europe).
Said Jessica Alexander: “We have always known that, in terms of construction and design, the UK bed market is very different to that across the rest of Europe and this study further highlights that. It also throws up the rather worrying fact that UK consumers would rather bag a bargain than a good night’s sleep – and that fewer people here than in Europe have made the connection between good sleep and a good bed.”
*The UK survey was conducted by InSites Consulting, commissioned by the European Bedding Industries’ Association (EBIA) to examine European consumers’ perceptions and expectations of mattresses. The research, was conducted across 10 countries (Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK) involved interviewing 500 consumers in each country with a focus on those who had either bought a bed in the past year or who were intending to buy one in the next year.