Specialty Sleep Association shares green survey results at Las Vegas Market event

Specialty Sleep Association shares green survey results at Las Vegas Market event

Provides insights into consumer interest in eco-friendly bedding

David Perry — Furniture Today, February 3, 2010

LAS VEGAS — Most consumers would choose a mattress with an environmentally friendly claim, and a significant number would pay more for such a mattress, according to consumer research sponsored by the Specialty Sleep Assn.

And a separate study of bedding retail sales associates, also sponsored by the SSA, found that many salespeople believe bedding manufacturers are not supplying enough information on the environmental impact of their bedding.

The SSA research, revealed here by that group at a presentation Tuesday in the SSA space (World Market Center C-1350), found overwhelming consumer interest in various green issues. Those results boost the SSA’s
“Green Initiative,” an effort to clarify environmental claims made by bedding producers, SSA officials said.

As part of that initiative, the SSA asked what claims consumers would want addressed by an industry label, seal or program. “Safety” and “emissions” were the top two issues raised by consumers. The survey found that 79% of consumers surveyed said they would choose a mattress with an environmentally friendly claim.

According to the survey of 637 adults in the United States, two-thirds of consumers were “very” or “extremely” concerned about the health and safety of the products they purchase. Safety of materials was the single most important environmental attribute to consumers selecting a new mattress (41%), followed by mattresses that are free of emissions (15%), and mattresses produced by responsible manufacturing processes (10%). In addition, the study showed that 39% of the respondents indicated that they would pay more for an environmentally friendly mattress.

“We are pleased to be sharing this information with the industry and – for the first time – are presenting not only research on consumer and retail sales associate priorities but also significant guidance on making environmental claims, what terminology actually means, and what global trends might influence how products are designed and marketed in the U.S.,” said Dale Read, president of the SSA. “The Mattress/Bedding Industry Green Initiative is working to achieve greater transparency for consumers and provides this research-based report on environmental claims as the first step in what will need to be a multi-faceted industry communications effort.”

The SSA conducted a separate survey of retail sales associates at 233 stores with a total of 61 retailers. This research identified a need for clear environmental terminology, SSA said. Half of the respondents believed that manufacturers are not supplying enough information about the environmental impact of their mattresses. The vast majority (87%) believe an industry standard, certification or seal would be helpful, with almost one in three saying it would be “very helpful.”
Among key findings of the SSA research:
• Three-quarters of the RSAs surveyed (76%) have experienced customers asking for “natural,” “organic,” or “environmentally friendly” mattresses.
• Two-thirds of the RSAs surveyed (69%) have had customers ask for mattresses free of added chemicals.
• More than half of consumer respondents (56%) said a “green” seal or certification on a mattress would make them more likely to consider that mattress.

Consumers expressed greater concern for the environmental impact of a mattress at the end of the lifecycle versus the beginning of its lifecycle, SSA said.

“Environmental Claims: What Marketers and Retailers Need to Know – Terminology, Definitions, Standards and Trends for the Bedding Industry” was presented by the Specialty Sleep Assn. here. The report was developed by Vicki Worden of Worden Associates, an environmental consultant to the SSA’s “Green Initiative” Board of Governors.

The Mattress/Bedding Industry “Green Initiative” was created to identify definitions and terminology, as well as existing standards and certifications that apply to the mattress industry. The SSA Board is now considering a number of future steps to implement the findings of the report and study. Among the options:
A consumer-oriented public education campaign and labeling program aimed at increasing clarity and transparency for consumers shopping for mattresses and bedding.

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