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MAP Pricing Guide for Mattresses
How to Get a Great Deal on a MAP-Priced Mattress

Last updated on February 28, 2019

The "Minimum Advertised Price" (MAP) is the lowest price at which a retailer can advertise a given product. Although MAP models do show greater uniformity in pricing, consumers should not assume that MAP-priced models are a better deal than other models, nor should they assume that prices on such models are truly uniform across retailers.

What is MAP pricing?

Under typical MAP pricing agreements, a retailer agrees not to advertise or promote a product below a certain price level that is set by the manufacturer.  Under some agreements, retailers also are not allowed to sell the product below this established price (but they can sell a mattress above it).

The arrangement is very similar to other industries. For example, Apple does not allow its products to be sold for less than a certain amount--that's why you'll see very uniform prices from store to store. Retailers agree to those pricing stipulations in exchange for being allowed to sell that brand/model. Premium jewelry, luggage, and sporting goods companies may also use this practice.

In the case of mattresses, a manufacturer might designate some or all of its beds as MAP models; if the retailer doesn't agree to restrict minimum sales prices, then the store doesn't get to sell the product.

If a retailer violates their agreement, the manufacturer has the right to cancel the relationship. MAP pricing is sometimes referred to as MMAP (Manufacturer’s Minimum Advertised Price) or IMAP (Internet Minimum Advertised Price).

MAP pricing has become increasingly common in the mattress industry, thanks largely to the success of Tempur-Pedic, who was one of the first mattress players to enforce MAP pricing across all of its products. Its popularity derives from simultaneously addressing consumers' fear of overpaying for their mattress, and retailers' fear of having price competition drive down their profit margins. Weary consumers are eager to believe that the manufacturer has protected them from having to comparison shop, when in reality the manufacturer has deigned to prevent them from comparison shopping.  In the end, retailers get a slightly better deal, as their MAP-priced products tend to be among their most profitable.

MAP vs. Name Game mattresses

In mattress and department stores, the majority of models fall into two camps. MAP models, discussed here, have very similar pricing no matter the retailer, and it's easy to comparison shop since beds have the same name from store to store. More confusing are "name game" mattresses. With these, a manufacturer will produce 10 or 20 almost identical mattresses, but with different covers and different model names for each retailer. That allows the retailer to say they are offering an "exclusive" mattress. However, it also misleads and confuses consumers who can't tell that the 'Austin Silver Plush' in one store for $1200 is the same as the 'Amarillo Gold Soft' at another store for $900.

On one hand, name game mattresses are the best way to get ripped off and overpay for a mattress that can be found elsewhere for less under another name. However, with some knowledge and research, consumers also have the best chance for getting a bargain with a name-game model if they can figure out which mattresses are similar. See our Name Game Mattress Guide.

How to find the best deal on a MAP-priced mattress

Just because a mattress is MAP-priced does not mean it will always be sold at the same price by every retailer. Many retailers will try to sell mattresses at a price that is higher the MAP price (we see this all the time in our price tracking).  So it still pays to compare the price of the mattress you want at several stores.

Likewise, even though retailers can’t advertise (or in some cases sell) below a certain price, this doesn't mean you can't find a better deal.  First, retailers are sometimes allowed to sell a MAP-priced mattress at a discount of 10% or more — they just can’t say that in their promotions. (Note that if you’re buying online, additional discounts offered by the retailer may be visible only after the mattress has been placed in your shopping cart.)  And, even under the strictest MAP agreements, retailers are typically allowed to add freebies to your purchase, such as free shipping, accessories (like pillows), or even a gift card or coupon.  So, be sure to compare prices on a total package basis to be sure you're getting the best overall deal.

Here's a sampling of recent pricing we found for the Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Adapt Medium Memory Foam Mattress in queen size. While the actual MAP price (the lowest a retailer is allowed to accept) is never stated, you can compare prices and make a good educated guess. As you can see from the sampling below, there's less than 10% difference from the lowest-priced store to the highest. This is information we found in about 10 minutes online and picking up the phone, and you can do it to.

If, in your research, you find such uniform pricing for a given model, you have likely found a MAP model. Here, we can guess that the MAP price is probably around $2,050.

Product: Tempur-Adapt Medium Memory Foam Mattress, Queen Size

Tempur-Pedic website $2,199
Online mattress store $2,099
Online general-merchandise store $2,074
Online discount store $2,199
Local furniture store $2,199
Local department store $2,199

MAP pricing policies and warranty coverage

When purchasing a MAP-priced model, be careful if the invoice for the mattress carries a listed price that’s lower than the MAP price, as this can sometimes affect the warranty should an issue arise. The manufacturer may regard the lower price as a violation of their agreement with the retailer, or it may assume the product you purchased was a floor model — both of these situations could void the warranty. Before buying a mattress with a price discrepancy like this, make sure to check the warranty and/or ask the retailer to confirm the exact coverage in writing.

Is MAP pricing legal?

The legality of MAP pricing is a frequent topic of debate. Under current regulations, as long as manufacturers set their policies independently, and present these policies to retailers on a "take it or leave it" basis, they are generally allowed to establish and enforce MAP prices as they wish.  What they must not do is cooperate with their retailers (or with other manufacturers) in setting these prices.  More details about the legality of MAP pricing can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website.

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