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Misleading Marketing Claims
Beware Misleading Marketing

Last updated on August 19, 2020

GoodBed readers tell us that their biggest fear when mattress shopping is getting "ripped off" and having the wool pulled over their eyes. Mattress stores and websites do that by using lots of inflated terms you can easily avoid.

One way that this happens is through the use of inflated, confusing, and misleading terms instead of plain English.

Called 'jargon,' 'buzzwords,' or 'puffery,' these are words and phrases that sound like something fancy, unique, or compelling, but really aren't. Advertisements and online product descriptions use these terms to make ordinary features sound extraordinary, or to justify a high price tag.

Gimmicks are another way you can get suckered. These can be sales tactics, policies or benefits that aren't all they're touted to be.

Mattress Buzzwords and Misleading Phrases

Open-Cell Foam. Foams are made by using an agent like bicarbonate of soda to introduce bubbles into liquid foam. Once set, this gives foam its rubbery, flexible quality. All foam used in mattresses is open-cell foam, so it's nothing special. Some stores or manufacturers tout "open cell foam' as cooler, presumably compared to closed-cell foam, which is never used in mattresses.

'DreamFoam,' 'SuperFoam,' etc. Mattress companies like to give their foams proprietary names, but in the end, only three broad categories of foam are used in mattresses: Polyurethane foam, memory foam, and latex foam. Despite a fancy-sounding name, almost all mattress foam is one of these three types.

More Comfortable. Mattresses are personal and individual, and what's comfortable for you, may be uncomfortable for someone else. So phrases like "our most comfortable" etc. have no value for you.

Marketing Gimmicks

Lowest Price Guarantee. This phrase leads you to believe that you can comparison shop, and if you find a lower price for the exact same bed, the store will honor the lower price. The problem? The names of the same (or very similar) mattress differ from store to store so it's impossible to comparison shop, especially for the big brands like Beautyrest, Serta, and Sealy. We call this the "Mattress Name Game".

"Exclusive" (to store XYZ). Wow, only this store has this model? That's because it's likely sold with a different name elsewhere. This phrase is useless to the consumer and won't allow price comparisons. It's also common for retailers to "white label" mattresses -- have a third party company make a very ordinary mattress, then put the retailer's brand name on it. These "house brands" are usually the biggest money-makers for mattress stores in large part because shoppers cannot shop for the best price.

Our Best Offer. Mattress stores have sales so frequently that it's doubtful you'll know if this is true. And even on the sale price, there may be wiggle room for negotiation. Especially at mattress stores (not so much department stores), 'our best offer' can probably be better.

Replace Every Eight. Propagated by Sit 'n Sleep and other retailers, this tall tale tries to put an expiration date on all mattresses. The truth? Replace your mattress when it becomes less supportive, too soft, and no longer fits your needs. See: When to Replace Your Mattress

Questionable Charitable Giving. Some retailers and brands say they donate a number of mattresses to charity. That sounds great on the surface, but keep in mind that returned mattresses cannot be resold. In many cases, the 'donated' mattresses are beds that have been returned by consumers and can no longer be sold.

Fancy quilting = better. It's what's inside that mattress that really counts. A heavily quilted cover looks luxurious and posh, but remember, it's getting covered with sheets. A mattress must be supportive and fit your needs above all. The cover makes little to no difference.

Greenwashing in Mattresses

Like other products, the mattress industry still suffers from a good deal of greenwashing. First of all, mattresses aren't a crop, so they can't be truly organic, but the term 'organic mattress' is used nonetheless (including, for the sake of convenience, by this site). In general, terms like 'natural,' 'green' and 'eco-friendly' should be thought of as marketing terms, no different than 'fabulous' or 'irresistable.'

Other claims are more regulated, including 'organic.' A number of agencies certify mattress materials as organic, and you will also see certifications meant to ensure against the use of harmful chemicals and offgassing. See our guide to Mattress Certifications

Read more on what so-called "green-features" claims mean -- and don't mean: Decoding Organic Mattress Claims

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