Why Mattress Firm bets on original content like podcasts to prove its expertise in sleep

Mattress Firm is betting on its original content strategy to not only boost brand awareness but drive sales. 

The 37-year-old chain is in the midst of the second season of its podcast, “Chasing Sleep,” in partnership with iHeartMedia, which has surpassed more than 100,000 downloads, according to Sam Bennett, Mattress Firm’s svp of marketing. The mattress chain has also recently released its latest annual sleep research report and launched a new ad campaign that details what finding the right mattress can do for someone’s sleep. Those efforts are just the latest from the company, which has an ongoing focus on sleep content with Sleep.com. 

The current content focus is part of an overall effort to position Mattress Firm as more than a retailer — one with expertise on sleep, per Bennett. “The mattress category has been rooted in product and price,” said Bennett, when asked about why the brand is focusing on original content now. “Mattress Firm had a bigger story to tell than just product and price. We’re leaning into content to tell that bigger story about why consumers should choose Mattress Firm.” 

It’s unclear how much Mattress Firm is spending on the content effort, as Bennett declined to share advertising figures or what the brand’s content investment would be. During the first quarter of 2023, Mattress Firm spent $68.3 million on advertising, according to Vivvix, including paid social data from Pathmatics, which also found that the chain spent $308.5 million on advertising throughout 2022, up from $287.6 million in 2021. 

“Content is an always-on part of our plan,” said Bennett, adding that not only does the brand have its own podcast but it works with podcast hosts and podcast influencers on audio advertising efforts too. “It’s not a flash in the pan. It’s an always-on commitment and it’s a good part of our buy.” 

Overall, the push into original content is meant to showcase the brand’s expertise when it comes to sleep, according to Bennett. “We’re more than mattress sales people,” said Bennett. “It’s very important for us as a brand to talk the talk and walk the walk. The podcast, Sleep.com, the ‘Sleep Uncovered’ report, those are all very clear ways to show people we have the expertise. We’re not buying it from someone else.” 

Finding a way to connect with consumers on a deeper level through podcasts and original content makes sense to Mat Zucker, senior partner and co-head of marketing and sales at Prophet, a growth strategy consulting firm. “On the one hand, sleep is a hot topic in the health, wellness and lifestyle space,” said Zucker. “Podcasts are showing they can be full funnel. On the challenging side [for Mattress Firm], it’s hard to build an audience even with iHeartMedia.” 

Zucker continued, “They’re trying to use brand podcasting for acquisition. If they want that they should really advertise on other brand podcasts. However, they’re sticking with it. If they’re seeing success, it could be a good lesson for all of us if they figure out how to use their own media for themselves. If they can get the quality and engagement, it could be a lesson that you can do your own brand podcast.” 

Going forward, it’s likely Mattress Firm will continue to invest in its original content strategy even amid the currently difficult economy. 

“Traffic is tough for everyone,” said Bennett. “Marketers are being pressed to walk away from things like brand and content but honestly what we’re seeing is that differentiating who you are and what you stand for and giving people a reason — in addition to product and price — is starting to drive more traffic.”

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