Why the world’s biggest DTC mattress brand is betting on Australian retail

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m>Inside Retail understands they include specialty homewares chain Linen House, which partnered with Emma on a launch event in Melbourne last week. 

Other partners are expected to include online marketplaces and retailers in the FMCG, technology and lifestyle space, as well as traditional mattress retailers. 

“We’re not just focused on the sleep industry,” King said in a presentation about Emma’s omnichannel retail strategy at the launch event. “We’re about reaching customers, whether you eat, sleep, shop, buy – all these things are driving us forward.”

King, who previously worked at Harvey Norman, said the brand will partner with one or two leading retailers in each category and provide them with unique product ranges that it doesn’t sell online to enable them to differentiate their offerings. 

“We don’t just turn out cookie-cutter models. Everything we bring into Australia is specifically tailored to the Australian market and the Australian consumer and how we sleep,” he said.

Going forward, the majority of the mattresses sold in Australia will also be manufactured locally.

Linen House partnered with Emma on a launch event in Melbourne last week. Image: Emma

Targeting $100 million in revenue

The move comes nearly three years after Emma first entered the Australian market with a local e-commerce offer, and is expected to rapidly accelerate its revenue growth, which exceeded 300 per cent over the last 12 months.

“When we launch into retail, we’ll be well over 500 per cent,” Lindsay King, the brand’s newly appointed commercial director, who is heading up retail operations in Australia and New Zealand, told Inside Retail at the event. 

The brand aims to generate 10 per cent of total revenue in Australia and New Zealand this calendar year. Last year, it had more than $1 billion in global revenue, a 59 per cent increase from 2020. 

“We’re not here for a holiday,” King said. “[Our attitude is], ‘Let’s get down to business and take what we do very well to the market’.”

Since launching in Frankfurt in 2013, Emma has expanded rapidly to 33 countries on five continents through a mix of direct-to-consumer online retail and partnerships with bricks-and-mortar stores. 

In 2021, it made a big push into Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

This approach has enabled Emma to sell more than 4 million mattresses globally, making it the biggest direct-to-consumer sleep company in the world, both in terms of dollars generated and units sold. 

Despite this, the brand is still flying relatively under the radar in Australia. 

“We don’t talk a lot about ourselves, if anything, we’ve crept up on a lot of people,” King said. 

Investment in R&D 

One of the main drivers of Emma’s growth is its product innovation. 

The company has invested millions of dollars into research and development and operates a lab in Frankfurt where it develops new products, such as Emma Motion, a smart mattress that automatically adjusts to a person’s sleeping position to ensure optimal spinal alignment and body temperature throughout the night. 

Users can control the mattress and monitor their sleep patterns through the Emma Sleep app, and the company is exploring the possibility of connecting the technology to appliances, such as lighting, to help people wake up more naturally. 

“Health and wellness is a massive part of where our journey is going. It’s always been that way from the inception of the organisation,” King said. 

Retailing for nearly €2,500 (roughly A$4,000) for a single, Emma Motion is at the top of the brand’s range. It also offers more affordable all-foam mattresses and hybrid foam-and-spring mattresses, which start at around $1000. 

King said the brand aims to have a mattress for everybody, both in terms of affordability and functionality.

Linen House is expected to stock six Emma mattresses, including the Emma One, Emma One Hybrid, Emma Original, Emma Original Hybrid, Emma Deluxe and Emma Deluxe Hybrid. 

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