Don’t Sleep on The Helix Personalization Strategy
How personalization helps with both short-term and long-term growth
There are some big-ticket items that most people have and need, but absolutely hate shopping for. Mattresses fall into that category. In fact, studies have shown that people would rather go to the dentist than buy a new mattress. Helix Sleep is trying to take the pain out of that experience.
Adam Tishman is the co-founder and co-CEO of Helix Sleep, and on an episode of Up Next in Commerce, he explains why his DTC mattress company is different from the rest, and why it matters.
“The issue where we really differentiate at Helix is around the product itself,” Tishman said. “So what Casper did and what pretty much every other player in our space did was say, ‘It’s really challenging to choose a mattress. So we’re going to just get rid of choice altogether, and offer one type of mattress for every single person.’ And what we found doing a whole ton of research and talking to people is that there really is a wide variety of needs and preferences as it relates to your mattress and to the way that you sleep. The same way that we all don’t fit in the same clothing, we all don’t have the same exercise routine that works best for us, or the same diet. Sleep is quite personal. And our mission was effectively, could we take information that you knew about yourself and translate that into product attributes and match you to the right product?”
To get to that perfect-fit mattress, gathering data was a critical part of the process — both in the form of sleep research, and from customers themselves to learn exactly what they needed from their mattresses. According to Tishman, rushing to market with a substandard product would have meant certain death to the company, so the founding team decided to take the slow-and-steady approach in order to set themselves up for long-term success.
“It’s really interesting, this tension around, do I want to get to market as quickly as possible, or do we want to take a step back, feel really confident in the research, the development, the product testing?” Tishman said. “We went through many, many versions of the mattress, many, many versions of the algorithm on how we matched people. And the approach that we took was that you really only get to come out to the world and present your product once, at least in physical products. That’s our belief, which is differentiated, perhaps, from a more technical product where you can have an MVP. We couldn’t really sell a mattress that was only 50% as good as we wanted it to be one day because we would get terrible product reviews, and we couldn’t build brand equity that way. And so we did a lot of work upfront to make sure that the product is where we wanted it to be.”
With a product and process they were confident in, Tishman said his team felt good about launching the business and starting to gather the customer information they needed to deliver the perfect product to those who chose Helix. And now, five years and tens of thousands of mattresses later, Tishman believes that the data strategy and personalization approach they opted for has been the key to the company’s success and its ability to scale.
“The first three and a half years of our business, we were holistically a single DTC brand and started out as just mattresses and then extended into other sleep products, pillows, sheets, box springs, adjustable bases, et cetera. Then about a year and a half ago, we took a step back, saw what we were building, which was this really fast-growing profitable brand, and in a category that we were one of the leaders in, but what we saw under the hood was this really excellent collection of skill sets across our team, across our technology, and across our supply chain capabilities and relationships. [We asked], ‘Could we view ourselves less as a single brand and more as a platform on which we could build a portfolio of home good brands?’ And that is the strategy that we are currently on.”
Helix is still growing, and has big plans for the future. Be sure to check out Up Next in Commerce to hear all about them.