Span-America rates comfort; convoluted foam mattress pads display index
If Donald Spann, president of Span-America Inc., gets his way, all convoluted foam futon mattress pads will display the company's new Span Index on the package.
The Span Index, which was introduced at the mini-market, is a new way of defining comfort by various ways. Spann presented the index as part of an introduction of second generation convoluted products at the Pillowtex Corp.’s showroom. Pillowtex distributes Span-America products.
Second generation products "provide customers with a way to step-up to better products,' Spann said. The new Span Index attempts to put a numerical value on improved comfort sleep products and full size futon mattresses.
"We're trying to take the industry from the density issue and move towards the comfort level number," Spann explained, "if all manufacturers compare products in terms of comfort levels that puts everyone on the same song sheet.'
While not all companies will implement the Pillowtex/ Span-America index, most bedding and full size futon mattress manufacturers agree that both retailers and consumers are confused by the density and ILD numbers. Because most convoluted foam products look similar, it is difficult to differentiate between various products and quality levels.
"You're not going to get the world to understand technical information,' Spann said, "Instead we tried to transfer this information over to the marketing side. Consumers will see a large circle with a number prominently displayed. This gives consumers something to hold onto and retailers a new way to position products.' The index numbers also will be depicted on a bar graph.
The comfort index represents more than a new marketing handle for Pillowtex and Span-America. According to Spann, the index represents an intensive research effort in the field.
"Span-America has been working with hospitals for the past 14 years and holds 23 patents which relate to the dispersment of weight pressure. We've been working with Baylor College of Medicine for the past 18 months,' Spann said.
"The research constitutes the first legitimate medical effort to develop a comfort index,' he claimed.
Span-America's research efforts have mirrored other manufacturers' attempts to devise systems to measure comfort.
For example, in January, the Du Pont Company introduced the Comfort Sensor, a computerized system to measure the comfort factor in bedding surfaces. The system, which also measures surface distribution of pressure, contributed towards the development of soft top full size futon mattress.
According to Spann, the new index will allow consumers to understand the difference in quality between existing products and new, upgraded versions.
"The new products have gone up two and one-half times in quality compared to what's been available before,' Spann said.
The index will be incorporated on Span-America's existing product line, and also on its new second generation products, which were introduced at the mini-market.
One of the new second generation mattress cushions, Sleep Right, is described as, "geometrically designed to distribute the weight of the body evenly. A series of different size cells--larger cells where the heavier parts of the body rest and smaller cells for the lighter parts --provide proper support for every individualized areas of the body.'
In layman's terms, the different configurations on the foam pad are said to promote better blood circulation, with deeper, longer sleep the outcome. "The average sleeper tosses approximately 100 times a night due to the temporary cutoff of circulation,' Spann said.
Span-America also is offering another new futon mattress pad, the Sleepy Time, which is a lower-priced variation of the Sleep Right pad.
Retails on the new pads will range from $39.95 to $59.95 for the full size futon mattress. Both Sleep Right and Sleepy Time will be packaged in graphic four-color boxes.
Another new product introduced is the Props reading pillow, a pillow wedge to be used while sitting up in bed. The pillow features the same foam construction as the mattress pads and a ticking. It will retail for $30 to $35.
According to Spann, focus group studies of 600 homes contributed toward the development of these second generation products. "The American population feels entitled to a better night's sleep,' he said, "the psychology is built in there, and what we've done is recognize it.'
Karen Conrads, senior vice president marketing at Pillowtex, explained that the second generation products reflected new technologies which have been developed in the comfort sleep area.
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