The Unexpected Key To Casper’s Success As A DTC Brand: Turning Something Terrible Into Something Fun
Buying a mattress is:
- Way too expensive.
- All of the above.
I think most of us would go with (d), right? Who wants to spend hours in a mattress store, talking to salespeople about things like memory foam and back support, before paying what could be thousands of dollars?
Not many of us—even though we all know how important mattresses are for our sleep and overall health. This isn’t just a guess or assumption. I’ve been in marketing for a long time, and I can tell you for certain: the connected consumer is not into this model.
This fact, of course, is why the direct-to-consumer (DTC) mattress retailer Casper has grown to a $1.1 billion company since its founding in 2014.
Their key differentiator? Make mattress buying fun. Let’s take a closer look.
A bold proposition
Casper launched itself into the deeply traditional, entrenched sleep market with a radically bold proposition: they were going to get customers to make a large, long-term purchase totally online, sight unseen.
Now, after accounting for the fact that a high-quality product had to be the foundation of any sustainable business, Casper established two central strategies for turning curious onlookers into first-time customers.
Make a relatively boring product fun and novel with the “mattress-in-a-box” delivery model.
When co-founders Neil Parikh and Luke Sherwin first came up with the idea for Casper, they both lived in a fourth-floor walkup—so they knew how hard it could be getting a traditional mattress from your door to your bedroom.
Developing a mattress that could be delivered in a box would make the move-in process much easier, while also drastically cutting down on shipping costs.
But it also added an element of fun and novelty to the mattress-buying process that provided a key differentiator for the brand.
Go all-in with their content marketing to position Casper not as a mattress retailer, but as the authority in the sleep industry.
Content marketing has been central to Casper’s branding since day 1. They’ve used the usual formats, like videos, blog posts, and social posts to position themselves as an expert in the sleep industry, but they didn’t stop there.
Casper also created a digital and print magazine, Woolly, focused on comfort, modern life, and attainable wellness—in other words, wellness that’s built around you simply being you and focusing on the good things in life.
Is it directly related to mattresses, or even sleep? No way.
Is it fun and engaging? Absolutely. And when you’re talking about reinventing the sleep industry (or, more accurately, inventing the sleep industry), which is what Casper is doing, you get to call the shots.
What’s more, this kind of high-value (even if only from an entertainment viewpoint, like their section on sloth), creative, and authentic content is exactly what connected consumers crave when building relationships with brands.
Take this sentence from the article “Why You Should Get More Sleep,” by Woolly editor John DeVore:
“Sometimes, in the middle of the afternoon, I close my eyes and think about that moment when I can collapse onto my mattress (that link goes to Casper, my favorite mattress company, who also happen to be my benevolent employers.)”
There’s both complete transparency and tongue-in-cheek humor there—a winning combination. Connected consumers can spot a fake a mile away, and Casper knows this. It would do no one any good to gloss over the relationship between Casper and Woolly. It would come across as disingenuous, or worse, deceptive.
So instead, Casper embraces and owns that connection, which is a highly effective way to build trust.
Of course, in addition to building trust and giving customers content they value—both critical in building a sustainable brand—all this content also gives Casper an edge over other mattress companies when it comes to search traffic. By investing in more branded pages to index and more backlinks, Casper has given itself a real SEO advantage over other brands.
So the key takeaway here is:
Bold, fun ideas can be enough to give your brand the edge over others in the market—as long as they’re backed up by a high-quality product.
With Casper, that boldness and fun is baked right into the product offering itself: a mattress that’s high-quality, affordable, and delivered in a unique and novel way. When combined with their cohesive, wrap-around branding through content marketing, Casper’s got a fail-proof model that connected consumers love.
And the proof is in their financials: last year, Casper posted $373 million in net revenue, according to The Information.
We can’t all be billion-dollar companies, but we can all inject a little fun into our brands now and then. Whether that’s through experiential campaigns, content marketing, or a comprehensive social strategy, by offering connected consumers something that’s both entertaining, and authentic to your brand, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating long-term, loyal customers.