Friday, March 9, 2007

The $50,000 Bed and Other Stories

About 8 years ago I remember how bad the experience was of buying a bed. By far it was the worst sales experience I ever had. The salespeople at the 3 stores I went to were so pushy and slimy. One thing I remember most is how they got you to think that paying $5,000 for a bed was a bargain by showing you the $10,000 bed that was in the back. "Designed for astronauts using space age materials" was the reason for the cost. Nice story. The result was that the beds in the range of $2,500 to $5,000 actually started to seem affordable. I felt crazy! Did anyone ever buy the $10,000 bed? Its purpose was almost concept-car-ish.

I wanted to see how the bed buying experience was online in today's terms. Interesting to note that they won't show you anything on until you enter your zip code. Weird. Imagine Amazon not showing you books until you told them where you lived. This mega-priced bed concept is not part of the experience here. They sort the beds automatically from cheapest to most expensive.

Mattress Giant was one of the few who showed me something without asking me for a zip code, but they had this really silly "Z" mascot that they put all over the place, sometimes right in front of the content via a non-amusing cursor-trailing animation (image at top).

So today on CNN there is a story about a new $50,000 mattress right on the homepage. In the story they talk about the more expensive beds being about a peaceful night's sleep. Aloe vera "enhanced" fabric from Vera Wang? Who buys this stuff? This is all about storytelling. All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin dives deeper into the workings of this. Does wine really taste better out of Riedel glasses? Will we sleep better on a $50,000 bed than a $700 bed (average price for a queen)? I think I'd rather buy a corvette and a $700 bed with the same money.

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