Mattress Name Game
How to Beat the Mattress Name Confusion

Last updated on February 28, 2019

A longstanding tradition in the mattress industry is for retailers to sell the same mattress under different model names. The sole purpose of this confusing practice is to prevent you from comparison shopping.

This practice 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. The true identity of these 'name game' models is closely held, but with the right information, you can begin to figure out which models are comparable to others.

MAP vs. Name Game mattresses

In mattress and department stores, the majority of models fall into two camps. We're discussing name game models here, which represent the majority of what you'll find in a traditional mattress store. The other pricing type is MAP, or 'minimum advertised price,' in which a manufacturer dictates the lowest sales price for a mattress. Retailers must adhere to the restriction or risk the manufacturer refusing to let them sell that brand. The best example of this is Tempur-Pedic, where prices for a given model tend to vary only minimally from store to store.

On one hand, MAP pricing is more transparent since there's uniformity. On the other hand, you lose the chance to bargain or shop the sales to get a better price. But getting the best price on a name game model means doing the research, patiently tracking prices, and/or negotiating in the store to get the best deal.

How does the mattress name game work?

With "name game" product lines, a manufacturer will typically produce 10-20 variations of its models, each with a different and cover, which will then be sold under different names across the country.  Each model name is exclusive to a given retail chain (like Mattress Firm or Macy's) in your area. Usually, the mattresses are identical on the inside, but making the models look different further extends the illusion of their uniqueness.  In some cases, the largest chains are able to negotiate a minor (and typically meaningless) variation in the padding layer of the mattress in order to further solidify their claim that the price of that mattress can't be compared with versions available at other stores.

A retailer's 'house brand' can also be considered a name game model. In this case, a retailer contracts with a manufacturer to create a bed with their store name on it, and it's likely that bed is very similar to others made by the manufacturer under other names. These so-called 'house brands' are typically where a retailer stands to make the largest profit.

How much do prices vary between stores?

At GoodBed, we track prices at over 100 top retailers, so we have seen first-hand the wild fluctuations in mattress prices. We've observed that prices for a given model vary widely, both across retailers and over time.  In other words, most retailers are constantly moving their prices up and down for each name-game model — sometimes by as much as $1,000 at a time! So on any given day, a model's price may vary by that same amount from one retailer to another.  Knowing that 67% of consumers say that they do not need to negotiate the price of a mattress before buying, this means that walking into the wrong store on the wrong day could easily cost you hundreds--if not thousands--of dollars.

Do retailers know which models are the same?

At one time, we had assumed that a common practice of the most savvy retailers would be to closely monitor their competitor's model names, so that they could confidently show customers their comparable versions when asked. 

To put this hypothesis to the test, we called 19 different retail stores — a mix of mattress-only retailers and department stores — each of whom carried Sealy Posturepedic (a popular name game product line). With each sales representative, we asked for the mattress on their floor that was the closest equivalent to the Sealy Posturepedic “Reyna Ridge” Euro Plushtop model sold at Macy’s. To our surprise, not a single one of the salespeople was able (or willing) to accurately point us to their most comparable mattress, even after looking up the specifications for the Reyna Ridge. Our conclusion? Don't expect the average salesperson to be able to help you with your mattress comparisons, even when it seems to be in their best interest to do so.

Can consumers use the name game to their advantage?

With the right information, consumers can compare the specifications of two mattresses and determine if they are the same.  Therefore, the key to beating the name game system is having an efficient way to find comparable models, obtain their detailed product specifications, and compare their materials and construction.

That said, finding out exactly what’s inside a mattress is often easier said than done, since not all manufacturers provide such specs to retailers, and not all retailers provide them to their customers.  Some retailers will disclose the layers of a particular mattress, but not the quantities or the order of these layers.  Even when the information is available, specs are often rewritten to make them harder to compare, so there’s often some translating required to effectively compare two mattresses.  One retailer may say a mattress has “two inches of memory foam” while another retailer will refer to the same layer as “two inches of UltraSoft visco-elastic foam."

The lesson? When researching mattresses, pay more attention to what's on the inside than what it looks like on the outside. Hit the mattress stores knowing your stuff and you might know more than the salesperson!

Here's a great example. Beautyrest is being at least somewhat transparent with its Platinum line (at least they are all called Platinum). At three different retailers, we found a 14" Platinum Plush mattress with a very similar cover, and the same materials: A pocketed coil support unit, along with several of Beautyrest's foams going by such names as AirCool, GelTouch, and AirFeel, along with gel memory foam, and some kind of cooling coating called InfiniCool.

But the full name (and price) varied significantly at each store, but as much as nearly 30%. So you can see how knowing that these three models are essentially identical can save you a bundle, and that's before any further store sales or discounts. Unfortunately, getting to this point takes hours of research. Clearly, the name game stacks the deck against consumers, and only the most aggressive and committed consumers will be able to overcome it.

The solution? Bypass the name game models. Consider a MAP brand or model, or shop online directly from a manufacturer like Casper or Purple, where pricing is uniform and brands are more up-front about what's inside their beds.

Model Name Retailer Price (queen)
Beautyrest Platinum Plush Haven Pines Online Store $1,600
Beautyrest Platinum Plush Fairview Local Chain $1,300
Beautyrest Platinum Platinum Preferred Chestnut Hill Plush   Department Store     $1,700

Beautyrest Platinum Plush

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