This is the first in a series of blog posts highlighting a few of Theory House’s store visits from THX | A Theory House Experience in NYC.
Each retailer we visited was unique and innovative in their own ways, but we start by sharing what was unanimously the crowd favorite, Casper.
There is an enticing energy inherent to one of the first digitally-native disruptor brands. Casper started as an online-only, direct-to-consumer brand, that disrupted an industry when they were the first to innovate the supply chain by shipping mattresses in a box. This and a fresh approach to mattress marketing, lead to early success and a brand most people recognize.
However, there is much more to Casper. As guests of their flagship store, we were given a glimpse into the heartbeat of this bold organization. A combination of an authentic story and purpose, and associates who passionately embody them, created a memorable store experience.
Jared Anderson, Head of Enterprise Partnerships, and Joshua Dufek, Store Manager, welcomed us to the NewYork SoHo location. Josh captivated us with his passion for the Casper mission — to become champions of “the power of sleep” — and how it translates to the workings of every component of his store, from merchandising to customer engagement to Casper’s retail partnerships.
After all our store visits, our client attendees evaluated each retailer on a select set of criteria that Theory House believes to be important for creating remarkable retail experiences. Here is a glimpse into reactions toward Casper:
Merchandising (Product Selection, Curation, Availability, Interactivity, etc.)
From sleepwear to dog beds to meditation tools, there is more than just mattresses in a box when it comes to product at Casper. Some of these extensions are Casper-owned while others like sleepwear and meditation essentials, are carefully selected product partnerships. Not surprisingly, mattresses have the most dedicated space, but these other sleep categories are actually given priority promotion when entering the store.
Experience (Customer Service, Aesthetics, Layout, etc.)
A noteworthy feature of a Casper store are the mini “houses” for private consultations and product interaction. It’s a tactic we see being leveraged more frequently as brands aim to create more intimate and engaging moments for their guests. Casper aims to provide an empathetic approach to customer service. In these one-on-one interactions, they’ve learned how vulnerable customers are when purchasing a mattress. It turns out, more often than not, shoppers look to buy a mattress at a time of life transition, both positive and negative. This insight and resulting strategy serve as great reminders to put customers first and to empower store employees to create an authentic interaction.
Brand Story (Marketing/Signage, Visuals, Messaging, etc.)
The Casper store matched the design-forward branding that its online counterpart first established. Subtle yet impactful messages about the importance of sleep are scattered throughout the store, matched to a specific merchandise set or display. And just as packaging famously led the initial brand story (mattress-in-a-box), Casper continues to innovate across varying merchandise, such as their cylindrical packaging for pillows.
Casper employees also sport clever uniforms, think lab coat meets pajama button down, for a thematic tie to their “science of sleep” brand story.
X-Factor (Unexpected, Surprise & Delight)
The obvious x-factor at Casper’s SoHo location is their newly launched Dreamery. This separate space back-to-back with the store was created not as a way to push product but instead as an opportunity to elevate the brand. It goes beyond selling tools to help people get better sleep to actually providing an atmosphere in which to do so. The Dreamery is most definitely an experiment, but a thoughtful one for its part in raising the brand’s position as leaders in sleep wellness. Its dedicated employees help guests unwind, set them up with fresh sleepwear (if they want), and guide them to a private, playful looking but impressively functional, nap pod. These thoughtfully designed experiences feature curated lighting, scents, and sounds to lull guests to sleep. It’s a complete departure from the busy streets of New York just outside and a space you have to nap for yourself to appreciate.
All brands and retailers could learn something from this Casper store, especially the other mattress-in-a-box competitors. Casper’s ‘why’ is strong. The challenge that lies ahead is taking that ‘why’ — the power of sleep — and continuing to evolve it past their original claim-to-fame as the disrupter mattress-in-a-box brand.