As our ever-stretched lives become consumed with family, friends, work, play, and technological touchpoints intersecting every facet, the priority of self-care (sleep, in particular) gets pushed to the side.
But as research continues to prove not only the value, but the necessity of a good night’s rest and the impact sleep has on long term health, innovators are responding to re-envision how sleep plays a part of our lives.
The “sleep space” has been given the Silicon Valley makeover in recent years, with the rise of hip online startups including Casper, Tuft & Needle and Yogabed. Innovators are rethinking not only how we shop for the bedroom, but also how our sleeping choices fit into our lives. These direct-to-consumer brands are shaking up the old-school mattress industry by creating a “sleep” lifestyle that is an art form in itself, complete with bedroom design hacks, napping tours and more, all the while making the mattresses themselves more compact, affordable and easier to move.
Primed to be the “Amazon of sleep,” Casper does a lot more than sell mattresses. The company hosted a sleep symposium in New York with Arianna Huffington as a keynote speaker, published a trend report on sleep in partnership with Sean Monahan of trend forecasting agency K-Hole, and hosted free sleep-themed pop-up shops across America, complete with waffle stations and pillowcase screen printers. Casper isn’t the only one participating in the sleep-trend; Composer Max Richter partnered with a neurologist on Sleep, an eight-hour sedative opus that lulled 400 pajama-wearing audience members to bed overnight at the Sydney Opera House.
So what does this all mean for a brand looking to get into the space? Form and function, and the head and heart both must be taken into consideration. Consumers are hungry for education, are ready to immerse themselves in the why and how, and want to have fun in the process. Deliver an experience that imprints a memory, and a loyalist lifestyle brand can come to life.
This age-old innovation challenge is twofold. To disrupt a tried and true category, we must illuminate tensions that consumers may not know are even apparent. Equally important, to break the frame we must balance anticipating needs with nuanced timing of when the market is ready to receive them. And this is where insights come in. Going directly to consumers, collecting time-sensitive data that can optimize product and brand development, and ensuring you have the ability to quickly shift to respond to findings. Consider asking your target directly what they want via social media and externally-facing platforms, folding them into your R&D to not only yield authentic insights, but create opportunities for customers to become invested in the life of your brand.
In the words of Apple, think differently. Take action differently. And really be innovative, get your eight hours of sleep.