What should we rule out? And then what?

Hi KevinTMC,

Yes … once you’ve gathered some basic information so you know what to look for and what to avoid and you have a good sense of your budget range … then when it’s time to start testing mattresses it comes down to finding knowledgeable and experienced retailers and manufacturers that are transparent about the materials in their mattresses so you can identify any weak links and make meaningful comparisons between mattresses. When you are choosing a retailer or manufacturer to deal with I would always make sure that they will be able to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision (see this article).

Once you have confirmed this (and I would do this on the phone first so you don’t waste a trip) … then post #13 here has more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase but it comes down to 1. Suitability, 2. Durability, and 3. All the other parts of your personal value equation (including price and return or exchange options) that are most important to you.

This is as much about the effect of advertising on consumers and on their tendency as a whole to believe anything that is repeated enough times rather than doing more meaningful research so they understand the “why” behind the marketing claims they are exposed to more than anything else. This is compounded by the lack of meaningful information about mattress materials that is available for consumers as well and the general lack of knowledge that most salespeople have in the mainstream industry. In most cases reading reviews which say nothing about the suitability, durability, or value of a mattress for any particular person has replaced meaningful research. In the mainstream industry … profit margins (lower quality materials with higher markups) are the rule. The product that the major manufacturers sell to their customers (who are the larger retailers and chain stores, not consumers) is profit margin, not mattresses, and the focus on quality and durability has been lost.

This has been the topic of many posts around the forum over the years but you can read more about the major manufacturers, the current state of the industry, some of its recent history, and why I started the site in posts such as post #12 here and in post #404 here and post #4 here and post #3 here and in post #3 here but the “moral” of all of these is that I would avoid major brands or any mattress where you aren’t able to find out the quality of the materials inside it.

There are very few good resources available on the web that provide accurate and meaningful information about mattresses and unfortunately review sites have replaced sites where more legitimate and meaningful research is possible (which is one of the reasons I started the site in the first place). I am not a big fan of review sites for mattresses although they can be very helpful with more “commodity” types of purchases that are more objective or the criteria that differentiates better and worse are more clear and aren’t as subjective or preference based as mattresses. They can also be helpful for knowing the quality of the service of a particular business. There is more about mattress reviews and the reasons I would pay little attention to them in post #13 here and post #4 here and post #20 here.

In most cases mattress reviews will tell you little to nothing about the suitability, durability, or “value” of a mattress purchase because they don’t contain the specific information you would need to make them relevant to the specifics of any particular person or their circumstances or preferences. There are also broad categories of mattresses that include very high quality mattresses and very low quality mattresses and if the majority of mattresses in a category are in the lower quality range then making broad judgements about the whole category based on the “averages” of these types of mattresses would lead consumers to look past some of the best quality/value mattresses in the industry. In some cases there are many mattresses included in a category that don’t belong in that category in the first place.

For example on Sleep Like The Dead, the ratings for “innerspring” mattresses are the lowest of all the mattress categories and yet there are some innerspring mattresses that use very high quality materials, are very durable, and are the most suitable match for some people in terms of PPP (including some of the most knowledgeable people I know in the industry that could sleep on anything they wished to and sleep on an innerspring mattress). If someone was shopping by “category” and believed that innerspring mattresses have a lower satisfaction than other types of mattresses they may never look at better quality innerspring mattresses that used high quality materials in the comfort layers and which may be the best match for them. The devil is always in the details and broad assessments that don’t differentiate between the specific mattresses or the “why” behind the “what” are more misleading than helpful.

In addition to this … the highest rated memory foam mattress on the same site is a mattress that uses 3 lb density memory foam which is a lower quality material than I would suggest considering in anything but the very lowest budget ranges … which they aren’t (see post #2 here). The reason for this is that you can’t feel the quality of the materials in a mattress by lying on it (low quality and less durable materials can feel the same as higher quality more durable materials when they are new) and most reviewers that purchase a mattress that uses lower quality materials have no idea about the quality of the materials in the mattress they purchased because they don’t know how to tell the difference or how to make meaningful comparisons with other mattresses that are in the same budget range and use better quality materials.

There aren’t very many sites that focus on the types of “fact based” specific information that is focus of this site but one other good source of meaningful and accurate information is the beducation series of videos (see here or here) that are put together by Jeff Scheuer from Mattress To Go who is a member of this site and is among the most knowledgeable people I know in the industry.

While there aren’t many of them … the types of sites to look for are the ones that discuss “why” they believe what they believe or say what they say so that so that the facts and information you are learning becomes more self evident and “makes sense” to you in the bigger picture. That way you won’t need to “believe” someone else that may be more interested in “selling you” than “educating you” or that doesn’t explain the facts and reasoning behind their opinions.

There are also a couple of other “convince my other half” types of replies in post #4 here and post #2 here.