Casper doesn’t just make a mattress. It makes The Mattress.
There’s no deciding how much firmness or softness you want. No deciding between cotton or coils. If you buy from Casper’s website, you get the same latex-memory foam bed as everyone else — the only choice you have is the size.
The mattress is stuffed into a box small enough to be carried by a bike courier and shipped to your door. Open the box, and the mattress unfolds itself like a magic trick.
It only made sense for Casper to design a pillow and set of sheets next.
In an industry that’s bloated with so many options and marketing gimmicks, simplicity has been key to Casper’s success since launching in April 2014. The startup saw early on that people loved its one-size-fits-all approach — Casper generated $US1 million in sales in its first month, and $US30 million in sales in the first 14 months.
The original idea was to create a set of pillows with different sizes and materials, Jeff Chapin, Casper’s chief product officer, told members of the press during a small gathering in downtown Manhattan this week. But his team quickly realised that customers wanted Casper “to do all the work and sell us the perfect pillow.”
Like the existing mattress industry before companies like Casper came on the scene, Chapin saw that there were “way too many choices and a lot of confusion” around buying pillows.
So Chapin and his design team “dove deep.”
For the last 15 months, the team tested nearly every pillow design on the market, conducted focus groups, studied how people sleep, researched textiles, and realised that there “were very consistent things that people wanted,” he said.
“There’s this marketing artifice around how pillows are marketed and sold to us,” Chapin said, adding that people are trained to think we sleep one way — on our side, back, or stomach — when in reality “we’re moving a lot during the night.”
Starting with that assumption let Chapin’s team eliminate any ideas for the more outlandish, oddly-shapped pillow designs that fill retail stores today.
They realised that most people wanted a pillow that was cool and soft, but also supportive. Down pillows are popular, but they tend to sink too easily — no one wants their head disappearing into the mattress.
They found that while wool is a nice material, it smells like sheep when you sleep on it.
Chapin’s team tested a drawstring pillow design with adjustable sizes, measured how heat and moisture travels through different materials, and even tested a pillow made of tiny pillows.
All of the experimenting resulted in a single, three-chamber pillow design with different synthetic fibres for each part. The outer layer is machine washable, and the two inner layers are designed to create a balance of softness and firmness.
For making sheets, the team found that Egyptian cotton, widely considered to be a luxury bedding material, isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. You can go into a store and buy an Egyptian cotton set of sheets for $US40, or spend hundreds of dollars on a set. The cheaper sheets may be 10% Egyptian cotton and the more expensive ones may be closer to 100%, but there’s no way to really tell, Chapin said.
For Casper’s sheet, the company ended up going with a fibre sourced out of California called Supima cotton. Chapin said one of the reasons the company chose the material is because it’s traceable, which means Casper can monitor it through the supply chain and make sure that 100% of it is being used to make the sheets in factories.
It’s this attention to detail that Chapin hopes will convince people to buy the new bedding, which starts at $US75 for a standard size pillow and $US150 for a twin size sheet set — quite a bit more expensive than bedding you could get at Target.
And that’s something Chapin’s concerned about.
Casper could have made a cheaper pillow, but then it would have had to compromise on quality, he said.
“We didn’t design to pricing. We just designed the product. We could have said, ‘We need a $US50 pillow so let’s design a $US50 pillow,’ but we didn’t do that.”
When Tech Insider asked Chapin if one pillow design could really work for most people, he said “come ask me in three months.”
But he conceded that Casper’s pillow won’t appeal to everyone.
“It’s a very small percentage of the population that loves foam pillows, but those people love foam pillows,” he explained. “If someone’s already put in years of searching to find the perfect thing, I don’t think they will even consider this.”
When Tech Insider asked if a Casper comforter was in the pipeline, and Chapin said “maybe next year.”
“I think anything that’s on the bed we’d like to do sooner rather than later,” he said. “And then we’ll start branching out to everything else that affects sleep.”
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