A.H. Beard - Six Week Sleep Challenge
Solving Human Problems Solves Business Problems
How we helped everyday people get an excellent night’s sleep, and transformed a traditional bedding company into an innovative digital business along the way.
A.H. Beard is a premium family-owned bedding manufacturer established in Australia 115 years ago. They’re a global brand, and behind well known brands such as King Koil, Domino, and Health Rest.
A gap to bridge
Mattresses are an intrinsically challenging product to sell — most brands seem the same, and the purchasing cycle is typically only once every 10 years. To further the challenge, A.H. Beard is reliant on external retailers to sell their products. With these third-party retailers sitting in between the brand and their customers, A.H. Beard had little control over the B2C conversation.
A.H. Beard came to us to help them improve their brand recognition, and help them open a channel to talk directly to their consumers. Despite being the second largest manufacturer in the country, A.H. Beard had never been a consumer facing brand — instead, they had relied on their sub-brands to target small specific markets.
Results > features
With most competitors focusing on selling product features, we decided to take a different approach.
Through our research into A.H. Beard’s customers, a clear trend emerged — most consumers don’t care about product features like springs, or memory foam. However, sleep quality was a universal pain point. Topics like depression, energy levels, food cravings, weight loss, overall wellness and all things linked to sleep quality were things they could relate to. This reflected other research which showed an increase in the popularity of wellness overall in the Australian market. This lead us to our first key insight — people care about quality sleep, not mattresses.
To validate this efficiently, we ran a series of Facebook campaigns, testing messages such as ‘Get better sleep & lose weight’. The result was overwhelmingly positive, receiving 157% more click-throughs than any previous campaign. People found it so relevant that they were even sharing it with their friends, without prompting.
How can we Improve Sleep?
WOnce we demonstrated that people wanted to talk about sleep and wellness, we set out to understand why people weren’t getting quality sleep, and how we could help them improve. Through desk research, and interviews with medical professionals, 2 key points emerged.
Firstly, poor sleep occurred due to:
- Waking up during the night — Sleep was disturbed by external factors
- Pain during sleep — Pain like back-aches, and muscle pains prevented sound sleep.
- Trouble getting to sleep — People were unable to fall asleep
- Erratic sleep patterns — Shift work, or other external factors prevented sleeping normal amounts, at normal times.
Secondly, there were 6 easy things people could do to improve their sleep.
- Improve sleep environment — Take control of the light, temperature, comfort and sound in your sleep environment
- Reduce Caffeine — Stop drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks at least eight hours before you go to bed
- Remove technology from the bedroom — Keep phones, computers and televisions out of the bedroom and stop using them 30 minutes before bed
- Exercise — Complete 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise every day
- Eating well — Stay away from heavy meals and alcohol two hours before bedtime
- Me Time — Take time from your busy schedule and dedicate 30 minutes to yourself each day
Our research all pointed to one simple idea — we could improve people’s sleep quality by encouraging them to change to their lifestyle. Even though information on how to improve sleep quality was already easily available, it’s difficult to consume, and act upon. By making this information simple and actionable, we’d be able create real change in people’s lives.
This lead to the birth of A.H. Beard’s 6 Week Sleep Challenge. The structure was simple — every week, we’d send participants a challenge to change their behaviour for a week, and see how it would improve their sleep. We hypothesised that we’d not only make a measurable impact on people’s quality of sleep, but also position A.H. Beard as an expert in sleep, and build a community through which they could talk to their customers.
We wanted to validate this as quickly as possible, without spending excess time or money, so we built the most stripped back version of the Sleep Challenge we could. A simple signup form, emails to deliver the challenges, a blog for extra detail, and a way for people to track how successful they’d been each week. Within 3 months from concept ideation, we had a working product in the market.
A win-win situation
The initial results were incredibly positive, validating our idea that this product that would be valuable to end consumers.
- Out of 26,000 participants, all recorded on average a 44% increase in their quality of sleep
- We grew A.H. Beard’s Facebook community from 0, to 11,000 all driven by the Sleep Challenge
- The Facebook ads comment rate was 18% of people who clicked to view the ad. The majority of these people were also tagging friends, telling them to sign up
- Participants were keen to share their experiences and tips on blog posts, and even requested us open a dedicated forum In follow-up surveys, 87% of people rated the Sleep Challenge as ‘helpful’, or ‘very helpful’
- We won several awards, including Mumbrella’s ‘Insight of the year’, the WARC ‘Social Media Award’, and the WARC ‘Long Term Idea’ award
The biggest testament to the effectiveness of the Sleep Challenge is that A.H. Beard was not perceived as a brand attempting to force marketing messages onto its audience. Members’ participation and commentary throughout the challenge, as well as feedback in follow-up surveys, tell us that the programme was seen as a genuine solution to address their sleep problems.
Results for the business have been equally positive, with A.H. Beard growing it’s marketing database from 0 to 50,000 active users, and their Facebook community growing to over 11,000 members. Additionally, follow up surveys showed that 9% of respondents actually followed up the challenge with purchasing an A.H. Beard mattress, with another 60% saying they were likely to purchase within the next 12 months. Most importantly, A.H. Beard also found their brand in a new position — they had a strong digital presence, and were now seen as experts in sleep and wellness, not just mattresses.
Improving Lives Through Better Sleep
It was clear that this was the way forward — we would no longer focus on selling mattresses, we would sell sleep, with all the health and wellbeing benefits that come with it. This insight was the turning point for A.H. Beard to take the leap to becoming a consumer facing wellness brand, rather than a traditional mattress company.
The original logo represented the company’s strong family heritage, so we worked iteratively with A.H. Beard and the founders Garry & Allyn Beard to rework the master logo, to a fresh and modern brand. We also unified all their disparate ranges under the primary brand, further raising brand awareness — strengthening it as a consumer brand in it’s own right.
Wrapping this all up, we came up with that the new brand promise that speaks to the key insight, and everything we’ve accomplished so far — ‘improving lives through better sleep’.
We rolled out this new brand message across a full website refresh, and all A.H. Beard’s social channels. This was brave step forward — differentiating the brand from competitors, who were still primarily product feature focused, and cementing their place as a leading wellness brand.
Iterating to a Better Night’s Sleep
The Sleep Challenge has run 6 rounds since conception in 2013. Each time we work to improve based on customer feedback. We’ve added improved stats and tracking, so users could see their improvements over time, while also simplifying the email messaging, instead encouraging people to visit the site for detailed information about each challenge. Finally, we added an open forum for participants, to give them a space to discuss their progress, tips, and experience.
After 3 years running, the results speak for themselves. Participants routinely say that they’ve experienced the benefits of their improved sleep patterns, and that the Sleep Challenge has caused permanent positive change in their lives.
Leading the category forward
For 3 years, the Sleep Challenge has been delivering on the brand promise — improving lives through better sleep. We were affecting real positive behavioural change in participants, but we wanted to go further.
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