Casper, a New York-born sleep startup, is reimagining trite Memorial Day mattress sales with a pun-driven initiative -- a Memorial Day Sail. The company is chartering a sailboat on Memorial Day afternoon to take 75 guests on a trip down the Hudson River and try out a bed.
"Every big holiday we see that mattress stores are throwing these giant sales and waving flags and pumping money into giant marketing spends," said Lindsay Kaplan, VP-communications at Casper. "We wanted to take the wind out of the sails of these clearances, pun intended."
Casper doesn't do sales, unlike its competitors, which thrive on holiday deals this time of year. That's because its bed, which costs $850 for a queen, is already cheaper than many comparable memory foam mattresses, which cost $1610 on average, according to sleep product researcher Sleep Like the Dead. The company focuses on eliminating retail costs, reshuffling the supply chain and compressing the bed for cost-efficient shipping in order to bring down the price.
On Monday, Casper will put its own spin on the Memorial Day holiday.
"Instead of having people spend the day in the mattress store, spend the day on the boat," said Ms. Kaplan. "We want people to enjoy the sun in their eyes and the sea breeze," while they try out a Casper, of course.
Tickets for the event, which includes an open bar and hors d'oeuvres, are $30 and the proceeds will go to the non-profit Charity: water.
The effort also aims to establish an identity that's unique from others in the category, including manufacturers like Serta and retailers like Sleepy's. "It's really about building a brand and making sure people love Casper and feel good about us," said Luke Sherwin, Casper's chief creative officer.
Other ploys to promote the bed include Snooze Bars, pop-up style showrooms where customers can lounge on a Casper and have a drink, and an Uber partnership where guests took Casper rides last Labor Day. The company also covered New York's subways with illustrated ads from the Brooklyn-based shop Red Antler, which depict Casper's range of customers.
The startup, which initially targeted millennials, has attracted a broad range of customers who want new ways to shop for mattresses. "We don't ever really try to sell our bed," said Ms. Kaplan. "It may seem a little backwards, but it's more important to get people to experience the bed."
By not trying to sell beds, Casper, which launched in April 2014, earned $20 million in sales during its first 10 months, the company said.
Casper is disrupting other areas of the sleep category as well. For example, people can't buy beds at the retailer's New York and Los Angeles showrooms. There is no point-of-sale system in store. Instead, customers are directed to Casper's website to buy a bed with a 100-day trial period and 10-year warranty -- a departure for the mattress space where a majority of sales happen offline.
"Sleep on a bed for 100 nights and have it prove itself to you in your own home," said Mr. Sherwin, adding that people need time to make what is typically a ten-year investment.
Casper beds are also delivered in a box that's small enough to fit in the trunk of a cab. And the unboxing experience has wowed online reviewers, including some who returned the mattress because it wasn't the right fit.
The company, which prides itself on developing the "one-perfect mattress" and meeting the "Goldilocks standard of 'just right;'" is also experimenting with other sleep products, including pillows, bedsheets and blinds. "Sleep is what Casper is about," said Mr. Sherwin.