I don’t usually do rants. But today I’m all fired about a commercial I heard run on a local radio spot here in the Atlanta area. I won’t mention the national chains name because a) it’s irrelevant and b) the commercial was actually quite bad in my opinion. The commercial in question supposedly answered the question, “How often should you change your mattress?” I was shocked by the answer.
This commercial’s action message challenged consumers to replace their mattress every 8 years. I shouted “What?!” out loud when I heard that (and I never do that in the car). Think I actually scared myself…and the driver in the car next to me at the red light.
I thought to myself that there is no way this could possibly be true. Does the mattress industry really suggest that consumers replace their mattress every 8 years? Well, when I got home and started doing some research I realized it’s even worse than that.
Current industry suggestions are that consumers replace their mattress every 5-7 years.
Give me a break!
An Inconsistent Mattress Message
On the one hand mattress companies extol the high quality construction of their materials. That’s why when you go to a mattress store there is always one model on display with the cut-away look. They have sliced a mattress in half so you can see the inner workings of how the springs and other mechanisms are designed to support you.
Warranties on mattresses vary depending on their price. A low-priced mattress typically comes with a 10 year or less warranty. However, purchasers of these mattresses are not usually looking to use them full-time or for a long time. This might be the type of mattress you’d purchase for a college student or a spare bedroom.
Many consumers will then step up from these models into the mid or high-range price points. Here they will find better construction materials that would typically be reserved for the mattress that will be used day in and day out. Warranties also get better as they will range anywhere from 10 to 20+ years for the highest priced models.
So, if I’m buying a mattress with a 10-20+ year warranty, why do I need to replace it every 5-7 years? What am I missing here?
Playing on Our Pain and Germaphobia
I think the mattress industry knows the conflict in their “warranty-buy new” message. So they have to use another hook to make consumers bite. Those two hooks – both of which were present in the commercial I heard – are our ongoing battle with body pain and our fear of germs.
On the issue of body pain you might hear in a commercial the following:
“If you wake up with constant back or muscle pain it’s time to replace your mattress.”
I’ve had very little lower back pain since we bought our Sleep Number Bed from Select Comfort 8 years ago. If a person has morning aches and pains they can’t automatically assume it’s the mattress. There could be a host of other factors including:
your level of physical activity at work during the day,
your lack of exercise or
your five year old child whose kicked you in the back all night because he’s in the bed due to the loud thunderstorm that happened at 2 AM. (Sorry, that’s a rant for another day.)
The bigger marketing ploy may be to play on our fears.
In this commercial they warned how old mattresses collect heavy amounts of allergens, bed bugs and even dead skin cells. That all sounds gross doesn’t it? Would that be enough to push you over the edge to purchase?
I’ve never been caught up in those cleanliness issues with my mattress. We live around microscopic organisms and germs everyday that do us no harm. In fact, germs go a long way in helping your body build immunity. So I’m not losing any sleep at night even if those things are potentially on my mattress.
Maybe I should be doing more to sanitize my mattress on occasion. I just don’t know how scientifically credible that information is. I’m sure the mattress industry would say it’s 100% accurate.
The Real Reason Behind the Message
Of course you realize this is all about the money. These companies have sales projections to meet and we are the target who will fill up their bottom line. They will do whatever they legally can to get us into the store, including playing on our fears.
I for one won’t be shopping anytime soon even though my king size mattress is 8 years old. It’s still going strong and we love it. We paid $2,600 for it 8 years ago, frame and all. With inflation that would definitely be more expensive now.
I can’t imagine spending that much or more every 5-7 years for something that has a warranty to last for 10-20. That seems very unwise from a consumer’s standpoint.
Questions: How often should you change your mattress? When was the last time you replaced yours? How long do you plan to keep it? Do you routinely sanitize your mattress? Any other insights as to why the industry is saying 5-7 years?