Serta Mattress History:
Serta- What was to become know as Serta Inc. began in the early 1930’s when a group of independant mattress manufacturers joined together during the height of the Great Depression. The Businessmen behind the Serta name innovated, developed and marketed their way from these humble beginnings to become the second largest mattress manufacturer in the world.
The Great Depression hit America hard and exacted a huge economic toll. President Calvin Coolidge believed that the economy would right itself sooner or later and refused to have the government get involved in a strategy or policy of spending that would alleviate some of the economic hardship. As more businesses failed and it became apparent that a recovery was a ways off, groups of small business men began banding together and forming associations in order to survive. One such group to evolve from this strategy was that which would ultimately form Serta, Inc. It was 13 mattress manufacturers who formally organized in 1931 and incorporated their businesses under the name of Sleeper, Inc. A set of guidelines was established for all products that Sleeper, Inc. would produce and then a strategy was developed to market those products under an agreed upon brand name. The businessmen all agreed that only a brand name product would successfully compete against the larger mattress companies. That belief in marketing, name association and the power of advertising is a guiding principle that guides Serta, Inc. to this day. Sleeper, Inc. quickly researched and developed it’s first brand name mattress, the Perfect Sleeper, in 1932. The Perfect Sleeper was the first ‘tuftless’ mattress ever made and an instant success. Sleeper, Inc. survived the Great Depression using their nationally recognized brand name mattress and the extensive network of companies they had to provide retailers and consumers high quality products and services.
In late 1941 that the association of companies comprising Sleeper, Inc. voted to change their name to Serta-Sleeper Associates. That lasted a short time until they changed the name again, this time to Serta, Inc. Serta had set itself up well, through the 1930’s and 40’s they had initiated an intense marketing research campaign that found consumers wanted to own products that were recognizable brand names. As a matter of fact, the majority of consumers would be willing to pay a premium for brand names that they knew and trusted, rather than spend less on a similar item with no name recognition. This served to validate Serta’s long help belief that having a familiar and trustworthy brand name was essential for long term success.
In the 1950’s, Serta made the strategic decision to increase it’s advertising investment. This continued to follow their philosophical strategy of a strong brand name and to heighten awareness within the general public, distinguish it’s products, focus consumers, and make the shopping experience more fun. Serta was one of the first companies to advertise on Television via the “Tonight Show” and “The Bob Hope Show”. Television helped Serta to dramatically influence the publics preference for the Serta name.
The 1960’s were similarly a good decade for Serta. The companies advertising, especially on the increasingly influential television, provided high visibility and sales continued to steadily grow. Market research showed that the Serta mattresses were becoming one of the most recognizable consumer products in the United States. The image projected was that Serta mattresses provided a sleeper with a sound and peaceful sleeping experience and was worth the higher market price. As sales increased, it was decided that the time was right for a strategic expansion, so by the end of 1965, Serta had built up it’s organization to include 39 plants across the United States and Canada.
Serta continued to increase revenues through the 1970’s. Serta was selling it’s brand name mattress in record quantities across the United States. Company leadership decided to establish a research and development department that was well funded in order to conduct extensive research on sleep habits of consumers and new technologies. By 1976, the R and D department had developed the industry’s first Pillow Soft mattress, combining elements of a firm spring mattress with a soft pillow-like exterior, it was one of the most successful products in the history of the Serta company.
In 1980, Serta decided to undergo a major expansion of its overseas operations, first establishing facilities in both Mexico and Puerto Rico. Both these countries had a growing middle class to that could afford mattresses made by Serta. The second stage of the expansion involved establishing a network of facilities in both Australia and Japan, a somewhat more complicated process. Extensive market research was done and after the effort was made, it proved to be well worth it. In 1983 the R and D department introduced a revolutionary continuous coil innerspring mattress, and pioneered the use of ‘convoluted’ foam in designing an improved version of the ‘Perfect Sleeper’ mattress.
In the 1990’s, Serta made continued to invest and improve it’s, research and Development department. Serta invested in technology to make their R and D center state of the art with equipment like the Comfort sensor- allowing researchers to measure pressure points on the body. New technologies and tools have been allowing the Serta researchers to translate ideas and concepts into innovation. Such innovations and ideas have led to the Serta Triple Beam bed frame, largely regarded ad the most durable in the industry, as well as the Perfect Night luxury mattress line, which became Sertas most successful product to date. In conjunction with the R and D successes, Serta continued to increase its marketing budget, rolling out, in 1993, the “Serta: We Make the Worlds Best Mattresses” campaign- designed to communicate the companies values of comfort, quality, and trust. A unique aspect was that the primary target of the campaign was women, whom the research had indicated were the primary buyers of household mattresses. By the end of the 90’s, Serta had grown in to a $670 million dollar company with 31 factories and facilities in North America and 23 three over seas.
During the last 10 years, Serta has continued to lead the way in innovation and advertising prowess. In 2000, Serta introduced the “Counting Sheep” as their brand icons, they was an Gold Effie award for the campaign in 2002. In 2003, Serta became the first national mattress brand to offer a flame retardant system in its mattresses. In 2004, Serta introduced a memory foam collection with Fireblocker and in 2005 it became standard in all US mattress sets.
Today the Serta collection includes:
- The Serta Perfect Sleeper The best selling Premium mattress in the United States and a Consumers Digest Best Buy for three years in a row.
- Vera Wang by Serta, a collection of innerspring and specialty mattresses designed in collaboration with renowned designer Vera Wang.
- Perfect Day by Serta, Serta’s top of the line mattress collection designed for a rejuvenating sleep experience.
- Sertapedic, Serta’s promotional product line designed to deliver the comfort of Serta at exceptional value
As Serta continues to grow and establish market share they are preparing to make a run at number 1 in the world.