Over the past year, almost every Indian business/industry has undergone disruptions, even in those in which not much innovation was expected — such as the one which seeks to ensure people get a restful sleep.
But, the Indian mattress market has also witnessed an intense transformation, with changing perspectives and rising health consciousness giving a whole new outlook to how people sleep – and on what.
The e-commerce market was already a significant segment for the mattress industry, and the ongoing pandemic only worked as a catalyst to accelerate this usage. On average, close to 80,000 Indians purchase a mattresses every day, with Indian Sleep Products Federation (ISPF) data showing the Indian mattress market was estimated at 18.6 million units in 2020, with an expected new demand of 7 million units per year. So, it is safe to assume that the Indian mattress market will continue to evolve and expand in the coming years.
Joining the wave of technology that has revolutionised the sleep industry is SleepyPanda, a brand in the modern bedding space.
With an aim to spread awareness about the benefits and advantages of futuristic mattresses, Suhas Masuti, Monika Thakur, and Veerendra Koujalagi founded the bootstrap B2C startup in August 2020.
Kicked off with a simple idea to improve peoples’ well being through comfy sleep experiences, SleepyPanda provides a diverse range of superior mattresses at affordable prices. Some of these products include vita Ortho and Luna dual comfort Ortho mattresses, natural yoga mats (Samba, Darba, Banana), sofa cum beds, protectors, memory foam, and microfibre pillows.
“Even today, with several modern and advanced mattresses in the market, people are still using traditional mattresses. Mostly because premium and technologically advanced mattresses are usually expensive, and it is rather difficult for an average Indian household to afford them. After working for more than a decade in the lifestyle and mattress industry and gaining in-depth knowledge about the mattress world, we decided to bring an e-commerce solution where everyone can buy premium and modernistic bedding products at affordable prices. We firmly believe that a smart solution is a solution that is available for everyone, and not just a particular class or community,” says SleepyPanda Founder Monica Thakur.
With the advent of young Indian players and big brands in the industry, many customers have switched from traditional street-side shops and local brands to branded mattresses, giving a fillip to the organised sector with rising demand for good quality mattresses.
The Indian mattress market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10 percent and is on route to attain a $2.5 billion mark by the year 2022.
CHANGING CONSUMER DEMAND DURING COVID -19
Covid-19 has changed consumer behaviour and demands. Today, most people prefer shopping online, not only because of lockdown restrictions but also because it is more convenient. Added benefits such as fast delivery and compact packaging have also made it feasible for customers to choose e-commerce solutions rather than opting for local or traditional shopping methods.
And then, fitness and health also play a key role.
Since gyms were closed because of lockdown restrictions, people were forced to do in-house workout sessions, and hence, yoga mats went flying off the shelves. Similarly, ortho-mattresses are among the most popular mattresses in the market. As most people are doing work from home and kids are taking online classes, spending maximum time at a desk or laying down in incorrect positions is inevitable. This practice has led to back and neck aches.
“However, ortho-mattresses have come as a lifestyle change that can provide body pain relief to take that much-needed sleep after a long day. Covid-19 restrictions have made people realise the importance of fitness and health, which is why more and more customers are willing to invest in products that can improve their health,” contends Thakur.
BREAKING THE CLUTTER
One of the significant problems in the bedding market is the lack of awareness of new-age products.
Most people are unaware that they might be buying low-quality bedding products at higher prices from their traditional sources, and this is where SleepyPanda makes a difference, say its founders.
“The biggest difference between SleepyPanda and already established players is that we provide high-end quality with an affordable price range. Conventional mattress brands either don’t have modernistic and updated premium products, or if they do, the prices will be costly. By providing superior quality products within the budget price range is how we plan to break the clutter,” says Thakur.
Apart from the price disparity, SleepyPanda promises to also provide a solution to a leading problem nowadays: back and neck ache. Since most people are working from home due to Covid-19 restrictions, back and neck ache has become a norm. Even before lockdown, people who were doing long hour desk jobs often complained about upper body pain. “This is where our ortho mattresses come into the picture, as the product provides relief from body pain and helps keep the back aligned,” she says.
The memory foam bedding market is gearing for growth of more than Rs 300 crore by next year with body pain and aches appearing to be driving up the demand for memory foam.
The biggest challenge SleepyPanda faced was the traditional mindset, as most people preferred to buy offline to check the products in person.
“Lack of verbal communication during online shopping unsettled customers initially, so we decided to give them calls and offered the same personal touch. It helped customers to understand our products and the advantages they have over others. Ultimately we were able to gain their trust,” says Thakur.
Secondly, being relatively new in the market, customers were not aware of the brand, and obviously, had their share of doubts and queries. “So, we initiated multiple campaigns and started spreading awareness about the importance of sound sleep. Gradually people began visiting our website, and our strong content gave them confidence in our abilities,” she adds.
The brand also provides 100-night trials of ortho-mattresses so that consumers can make experience-based decisions after using them firsthand. Other added benefits include free shipping and a whopping 10-year warranty.
Since its inception, SleepyPanda has been growing immensely, with 35 mattresses sold in the first week itself.
“We started with 15 sales, on an average, in a month, then increased to 60 to 80,” says Thakur.
The company targets to sell at least 1,200 mattresses per month and secure Rs 100 crore sales by the end of 2021. Although the brand is present pan-India, it aims to primarily cater to the South India market, including Bengaluru, Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad and Telangana, and Kerala, and then move west to Mumbai and Goa.