The Science of Sleep
People will spend at least one-third of their lives sleeping, so it pays to make sure that mattresses are comfortable and aid restful slumber. That is the thinking behind the strategy of Kingsdown, which specializes in the design and manufacture of a range of luxury mattresses.
Headquartered in Mebane, North Carolina, and now 118 years in business, Kingsdown has ten manufacturing facilities across the USA, employs over 500 associates and sells in more than 20 countries across the world. The business boasts manufacturing sites in Canada (which hosts R&D, manufacturing and production from Ontario Province), Australia, Brazil, China, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan and Vietnam. It has representative offices in the UK, Hong Kong and Japan, and revenues are in excess of $100 million a year.
Sleep is big business. Mattresses do more than provide just a cushion between the sleeper and the floor. A good mattress will aid restful sleep and last for years; a bad one will lead to aches and pains and just one night can be too much.
Kingsdown’s comfortable product range extends from its ‘affordable luxury’ $699 Prime Collection up to $8000 Vintage Collection creations. Its markets include individuals purchasing for the home, boutique hospitality contracts and the interior design community.
“Product designs cover the whole gamut, from inner springs to hybrid, artisan foam, premium latex, superior air systems and even boxed bed solutions,” says Frank Hood, President and CEO of Kingsdown.
Finished mattresses are bulky and have to be shipped by surface transportation. Multiple facilities across North America mean that the business can service its customers efficiently, quickly and with the lowest possible carbon footprint. While not the biggest mattress manufacturer on the planet, Hood sees that as a distinct advantage. “Our smaller size, combined with our large-scale capabilities, makes us a nimble, flexible partner, and our speed to market means that we can meet the most ambitious challenges.”
Kingsdown is a forward-thinking company. Regardless of price point, strategic analysis is the basis of every product’s design and development. Since it was founded, the company has invested in technology to make its products better, more competitive and more attractive to purchasers. Customer-centric product design is a collaborative process. Hood acknowledges that this means it can take longer and create SKU complexity but maintains that its personalized approach is worth the effort.
“While much of the industry is moving towards centralization, automation and standardization, we still value hands-on attention carried out by highly engaged, skilled associates,” he says. “We will do things on a personal level that the largest brands simply won’t take the time and trouble to do.”
Kingsdown is proud of its tradition of hand-crafting but technology is integral. It sees distinct competitive advantages in its styling and the quality of its materials and manufacturing techniques, which are very much driven by sleep science and testing.
“While we integrate innovations in materials, construction and assembly techniques, we do so without sacrifice to long-term performance and lasting comfort,” Hood explains. Product design is a customer-focused, collaborative process. Kingsdown maintains that close business relationships and collaboration with commercial partners may be complex but they allow retail customers to help ensure that products address specific needs on their showroom floor. The company constantly monitors the bedding marketplace to spot emerging trends and to identify new markets and opportunities.
Its advanced solutions are scalable across large retail networks but can also be bespoke to individual customers. The company maintains that its bedMATCH® application is the leader in consumer diagnostics. It uses 18 statistical measurements and over 10,000 scientific calculations combined with sleep preference details to provide personalized recommendations for products on the retail floor that will offer optimal postural support.
“Our product development process begins with X-Factor testing. Fourteen differently-shaped platens work together to simulate body shape and mass, from the smallest person to the largest. The mattress’ support characteristics are then measured and performance curve data are entered into our database,” Hood explains. All Kingsdown mattresses are tested to ensure they meet proper support standards. “Our patented Inline Comfort and Support Analysis (ICSA) system is the first in the world that measures every mattress to ensure the intended support level is delivered, every time.”
No Kingsdown mattress is delivered to a consumer’s home or a retailer’s showroom unless it passes ICSA standards. All test results for each product are recorded and held in the system and each individual item made is tracked.
“These processes are unheard of in our industry but Kingsdown is dedicated to exceeding industry standards, so our manufacturing integrity is of the utmost importance,” he says. “Kingsdown has been a ‘smart company’ for over 20 years, developing smart mattresses, the rigorously scientific bedMATCH® process, and our patented ICSA system. Lately, we have gone further into generating and utilizing data insights through every aspect of our organization, from market strategy to specific customer insights.”
This has enabled the company to respond with agility to the challenging market conditions of the past few years – and it hasn’t stopped thinking about development and innovation. Growth is an ongoing objective, both organic and by acquisition; Kingsdown is constantly on the lookout for other businesses that will complement its existing capabilities, help it enter new markets or enable it to gain a competitive advantage. Licensing to manufacturers in Europe and Asia is another development route. In addition to commercial sustainability, environmental responsibility is also high up the agenda.
“We take pride in sustainable sourcing of natural materials, such as organic cotton, Joma wool, Canadian lumber and coil systems made from recycled steel. Zedbed, our artisan foam bed partner, sources natural, sustainable latex and practices low-emission processes. We have comprehensive recycling programs in all our facilities and the Kingsdown Group operates in accordance with Mattress Recycling Council and Forest Stewardship Council standards,” Hood says, adding in conclusion: “As consumers continue to evolve their shopping preferences, Kingsdown has many exciting developments on the horizon, and technologies like bedMATCH® are positioned to exceed their expectations.”