The online mattress brand Casper has emerged over the last two years as a force in social media marketing, disrupting the department store mattress racket and building its success on an unlikely target market. Casper’s novel approach bears examination; their path to market, product development, and audience outreach each contain valuable lessons for today’s entrepreneurs.
A Disruptive Force in the Mattress Industry
When you think about industries that are ripe for innovation, mattresses may not be the first that comes to mind. After all, this is an expensive product that most people only purchase once a decade. Add to that the complexity of product options – densities, core materials, etc – and the vast range of preferences consumers have developed over time, and it may seem like a field better left untouched. The founders of Casper had a different idea. They flipped each of these problems on its head and achieved great results.
The first ingredient to Casper’s success was convincing investors that the mattress industry was ready for disruption. By highlighting their unique solutions to the problems of the existing industry, the Casper team gained investor’s confidence, closing their first major round with over $13 million in investment from venture capitalists and celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher alike. They’ve now raised nearly $70 million and are valued at $550 million just two years after their launch.
How did they do it?
Reach a New Demographic
Millennials aren’t the typical target audience for the mattress market. Young people tend to spend less on higher end items and shy away from salespeople, preferring online ordering and tech-savvy processes. Instead of seeing these tendencies as a problem, Casper positioned itself as the solution.
Casper’s online platform cuts out the middle man to lower prices and provides millennials with the ability to shop from home. They also target young people in their marketing by providing content that speaks to the overworked, underpaid demographic on the platforms that they use and trust. As a result, they’ve become the go-to mattress brand for millennials.
Simplify the Product Line
Another major contributor to Casper’s success is their slimmed-down product line. It’s so slim, in fact, that they only offer one density option, a far cry from the complex offerings of other brands. The mattress, a blend of memory and latex foam, is available in the standard range of sizes, but offers relief for those who are overwhelmed by the glut of options at other retailers. This “one for all” approach is now being extended into accessory products such as Casper pillows and sheets.
Casper also simplified the delivery process with a revolutionary development – each mattress is delivered to your door in a mini-fridge sized box. Once opened, the mattress unfolds to its full size, but there’s no more struggling up stairs and through doorways carrying heavy mattresses and box springs. That’s one more customer pain point vanquished through innovation.
Engage Your Audience
In addition to its innovative approach to target market, product offerings, and delivery options, Casper truly shines with its marketing strategy. In order to reach younger customers who felt underserved by traditional mattress companies, Casper found its audience on social media and podcasts. Their bold approach includes a talking mattress mascot, which tweets humorous observations such as “Still don’t think it’s a coincidence that ‘morning’ and ‘mourning’ sound the same.” It’s an award-winning strategy that works.
Casper was also at the forefront of podcast marketing. By sponsoring millennial-favorite podcasts like Serial, Generation Why, and even RuPaul’s What’s the Tee?, Casper reaches targeted subsets of consumers directly on a regular basis. When they’re ready to buy a mattress, the promo codes from their favorite podcast seal the deal.
This saturation of social media serves an important secondary function as well, providing brand evangelists the opportunity to share their enthusiasm for the Casper mattress with their networks. “Unboxing” videos, in which customers share the process of popping their new mattress out of its box, have become a favorite way to interact with Casper’s YouTube channel. Video reviews give customers the opportunity to share their experience with the mattress with others who are contemplating a purchase.
A New Day for Mattress Marketing
It all adds up to massive success for the company, which has since been joined in the online mattress space by several other companies such as Saatva and Leesa. Casper’s lead is holding strong, however, aided in part by a new partnership with West Elm that makes Casper mattresses available in stores for testing.
Casper’s example should be an inspiration to entrepreneurs and marketers. By tackling the specific needs of an underserved market segment and reaching them on their preferred platforms, Casper discovered innovative ways to disrupt an entire industry.