24 May 2024, 17:31
By Furniture News Jan 06, 2016

UK bed buying habits exposed

According to the results of a Europe-wide survey* into consumer bed buying habits, the UK tops the league when it comes to lack of sleep. 45% of respondents claim not to get enough compared to an average of 35% across the rest of Europe.

Yet despite close on half of the British feeling thry do not get enough sleep, less than one in 10 have yet to make the link between poor sleep and the quality of their bed or mattress. Only 9% thought the quality of their bed/mattress disturbed their sleep, while twice as many (18%) of their more ‘rested’ counterparts in Europe have made the connection between good sleep and good beds.

One reason could be that Britons are more likely than their continental cousins to buy mattresses online – where they cannot try them out first – rather than through traditional retail outlets. 16% of those questioned in the UK, compared to 12% in Europe, said they had bought online.

According to the new study, part-funded by the UK’s National Bed Federation (NBF) and The Sleep Council, British bed buyers are also more price sensitive than their European counterparts, with 52% saying price was important to their purchasing decision as opposed to 45% across the rest of Europe. Indeed, 41% of those questioned in the UK agreed that they would only buy a mattress if it was on sale – only 16% of those questioned across Europe said special discount offers were important.
73% of bargain-hunting Brits would not pay more than £750 for a double mattress.

Jessica Alexander, executive director of the NBF, believes there is a link between this perception of value and the trend for buying online: “Online is quite definitely where a lot of budget mattresses are sold, and if people don’t try before they buy, no wonder so many of them don’t feel they are getting a good night’s sleep.

“Buying online certainly has a role to play in today’s world, and it’s not exclusively the domain of bargain beds – some very good mattresses can be bought on the internet too. But our advice to people would always be to try before you buy so that you can be sure the mattress you are buying is comfortable for you. It’s a very subjective purchase, and what’s right for one person doesn’t suit another.”

This focus on low prices could also explain the apparent dissatisfaction of many Brits with mattress purchases in the past few years. According to the research, 47% of the UK sample had replaced their mattress in less than five years, compared to only 30% of Europeans. Says Jessica: “While we recommend that people should look to change a good mattress every seven years, the fact that so many people in this country are doing it in under five would indicate they were not altogether happy with the mattress they had. Perhaps that’s not surprising if it was a really cheap one which they didn’t even try out.”

The growing shift to online sales could also account for Britain’s love of brands as a buying reassurance. Buying a well-known brand was deemed important by 16% of those questioned in the UK, but only by 11% of Europeans.

The main reasons for buying online were: delivered to the door (favoured by 72% of those questioned in the UK as opposed to 64% in Europe); lower prices (69% UK, 55% Europe); and saves time (69% UK, 54% Europe).

There is also the fact that shopping for a bed still is nott considered to be much fun. Just over half of Brits (54%) and Europeans (58%) said it was.

Europe is also divided by very different preferences when it comes to the type of bed people buy. 40% of the UK sample felt memory foam was the best mattress technology, while across the rest of Europe the figure was a much lower 25%.

In Europe, latex is the second most favoured foam, popular with 16% of Europeans. In the UK it was only favoured by 2% of those questioned, with their second favourite technology being pocket springs (23% of those questioned in the UK as opposed to 14% in Europe).

Jessica adds: “We have always known that, in terms of construction and design, the UK bed market is very different to that across the rest of Europe, and this study further highlights that. It also throws up the rather worrying fact that UK consumers would rather bag a bargain than a good night’s sleep – and that fewer people here than in Europe have made the connection between good sleep and a good bed.”

* The UK survey was conducted by InSites Consulting, and commissioned by the European Bedding Industries’ Association (EBIA) to examine European consumers’ perceptions and expectations of mattresses. The research was conducted across 10 countries (Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK), and involved interviewing 500 consumers in each country, with a focus on those who had either bought a bed in the past year or who were intending to buy one in the next year.

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