At the San Francisco research lab of online mattress-in-a-box brand Casper, you can find mechanical engineers and technical engineers, but don’t expect to find any ex-mattress-industry employees.
That’s a fact Casper CEO and cofounder Philip Krim would proudly relay if you asked him about the company’s plan to stand out in an increasingly crowded field. Newcomers are eager to steal share in this industry, which has seen rising demand from consumers who are spending more on their sleep-related gear as part of the growing wellness trend.
“We like to have new ideas,” Krim said in an interview. “You see continued disruption in the industry. … It reinvigorates us to think differently.”
Thinking differently will be crucial for Casper, with the five-year-old startup's competition coming from sources beyond the other direct-to-consumer mattress brands, including publicly traded Purple as well as Tuft & Needle, now owned by the largest U.S. mattress company, Serta Simmons, following a merger. Both Amazon and Walmart have unveiled mattress-in-a box private labels.
“Before Casper came along, no one invested in online,” Krim said. “We don’t mind competition. We think our approach is highly differentiated. We call ourselves a sleep company. … What Nike did for exercise and what Whole Foods did for organic, we want to do for sleep. … There’s renewed (consumer) investment in sleep as part of the wellness trend. The sleep category will be huge. We have a long way to go.”
A look at some of the new products Casper introduced this year helps explain what Krim meant by "sleep company." The Hybrid mattress line, which contains both foam and springs and can be packaged and shipped in a box via UPS, is just one element. Casper has also unveiled a $129 Glow Light that it said can help consumers sleep better. In a sign of consumer demand, the item—with three months of planned inventory—sold out in the first three weeks, Krim said.