The Purple Company: Mattresses, Pillows

In which I explore the wild world of mattresses by analyzing the marketing messages in Purple’s viral video, and find myself buying a seat cushion, as well as a mattress

For me, it all started with a promoted post on Facebook, and the fascination continues to this day…

How to Use a Raw Egg to Determine if Your Mattress is Awful – #PURPLE

The Purple Mattress Ad

In the video, Goldilocks introduces viewers to the raw egg test, where raw eggs are placed at the points where the back and hips contact the mattress. The test: if a bed can cradle raw eggs while supporting weight, it’ll also cradle your pressure points while supporting your body for maximum comfort. It supposedly demonstrates the superiority of Purple’s mattress compared to conventional mattresses. The Purple mattress passes the test, eliciting a gasp from Goldilocks. We’re invited to watch as firm, soft, and medium mattresses all fail the test in spectacular fashion. Goldilocks also claims that the Purple mattress has 15 patents, and “was created by an actual rocket scientist.”

The video caught my attention, and being the skeptic that I am, I began investigating deeper into the world of bedding components and the names behind Purple.

The advertisement is a brilliant marketing home run. The ad agency behind the video is none other than The Harmon Brothers, the same agency behind the Squatty Potty advertisement.

Purple Mattress Marketing Claims

  • Better night’s sleep
    If one takes the raw egg test at face value, it stands to reason that the Purple mattress might just be something special
  • Has 15 patents
    More information on these patents and their origins can be found on Purple’s About Us page
  • Was created by an actual rocket scientist
    Without knowing specific projects that Tony worked on in his capacity as an aerospace engineer, I hesitate to call him an actual rocket scientist. It’s possible that he has worked on rockets, though aircraft are more likely. Still, it fits in the vernacular, so I’ll let it pass
  • Uses a comfort grid system to distribute weight across any body type
    The grid system is self-evident. “Any body type” is a bold statement, and will require some testing

Overcoming Objections

  • 100 night trial
    Customers may be hesitant to purchase a mattress without the opportunity to try it out. Because the Purple mattress is not sold in retail establishments, the Purple company offers the 100 night trial, matching the low-pressure sales tactic that other B2C online mattress distributors have offered
  • Free shipping, low price compared to top-end mattresses
    Both strike a chord with value-seeking consumers

Early Marketing Efforts

Purple Raw Egg Test: First Take

This first take is short and sweet. Some of the same visual elements make it to the Goldilocks raw egg test spot, like the goggles, and the breaking of the egg at the end to prove that it’s the real thing.

The Purple Company’s History

The Founders

Pearce brothers Tony & Terry are industry veterans. Tony is an aerospace engineer, and Terry is an expert in materials and manufacturing.

A Long History of Doing Business

The Pearce brothers have previously done business under the names ZZZest, GelMakers, and EdiZONE. (Purple joins online bedding arena, David Perry for Furniture Today). They’ve been businessmen for at least twenty years judging by their long history of business filings – at least 30 registered entities share Purple’s address (123 E 200 N, Alpine, UT 84004)!

It’s unclear when the Pearce brothers went from B2B and into the B2C arena, or whether such a dramatic shift ever occurred.

EdiZONE | Edison Zone

Founded by the Pearce brothers, EdiZONE LLC’s motto once read, “Helping companies around the world make money.” Their Flash website can be viewed at edizone.com. It states “EdiZONE is a world-wide product design and development company. Our technologies give *your* business the competitive advantage.”

EdiZONE’s Intellectual Property

Gelastic is EdiZONE US 5,994,450. Brief description from defunct EdiZONE website:

Gelastic is a patented (US 5,994,450) oil-extended tri-block copolymer elastomeric gel. It is a thermoplastic material so it can be processed by extrusion, casting, or injection molding. Because the softness is controlled by oil content, Gelastic can be made in a wide range of durometers. In any softness, it is remarkably stronger than other types of elastomeric gels.

Intelli-Gel is EdiZONE US 6,026,527. Brief description from same source as above:

Intelli-Gel is a patented (US 6,026,527) method for using an elastomer to create a cushion with unique properties. Due to a natural phenomenon called column buckling, the cushioned object can sink deeply into the cushion without increasing the unit pressure on the object. Intelli-Gel has applications in any kind of commercial and medical cushioning for humans, vibration isolation, and impact absorption. Intelli-Gel is usually made from GelasticTM which can be found in the materials section. Intelli-Gel can be made to a wide variety of properties by changing the elastomer formulation and the wall and cell dimensions.

GellyCombTM, or Intelli-GelTM, provides cushioning with performance much better than other available cushions. U.S. Patents 5,749,111 and 6,026,527

The intelliBED Connection

Before founding Purple, Tony and Terry Pearce filed a Utah DBA (file number 5895998-0151), dated April 28, 2005 for Intellibed West, with Comforteria LLC as the registered agent.

intelliBED was founded by ACTI President Robert “Bob” Rasmussen, a former employee of EdiZONE. “While at EdiZONE, Rasmussen helped develop the material and set up marketing and manufacturing relationships for the company” (Dan Pearce, quoted by Greg Allen’s post The Real Dadbloggers of Utah County).

intelliBED’s About Us page (intellibed.com/about-intellibed/) states that the company was founded in 2000, and that their products are made in their Salt Lake City headquarters. They claim Intelli-Gel® as their proprietary technology, and made a series of mattresses and a mattress topper to take advantage of customer segments. The intelliBED page on the material (intellibed.com/research/intelligel/) states that the gel material is a “Space-age co-polymer called Gelastic.”

Deeper on the intelliBED website, we see that intelliBED licensed EDiZONE’s intellectual property.

Severed Connection

intelliBED shared a press release following the December 11, 2008 ruling by Judge Randall Skanchy in Utah State Court granting Advanced Comfort Technologies, Inc. (ACTI), better known as intelliBED, a permanent injunction against EdiZONE LLC, Sunshine Manufacturing, and MyComfort Stores (chiroaustin.com/press release.pdf). The ruling in ACTI v. EdiZONE, case 060910483, upheld ACTI’s exclusive rights to sell Intelli-Gel consumer mattresses.

Without a paid subscription to XChange, I am unable to find additional information on the matter. I do note that EdiZONE filed an appeal in the ruling (Case No. 20090037-CA, PDF).

What’s in a Name?

Per the Purple website’s About Us page:

Why Purple™? Well, why not? It is an awesome color, and it signifies treating everyone like royalty. The Pearces have spent most of their high-tech careers advancing the world of cushioning. With Purple™, they know they have put all they’ve learned into the world’s greatest bed, and they’ve figured out how to do it so everyone can afford it.

Kickstarting Purple

The Pearces launched their Kickstarter project on September 23, 2015 (kickstarter.com/projects/227992716/purple-the-latest-technology-in-comfort-and-sleep)

But before that, WonderGel made a limited run of mattresses. In a post on the WonderGel Facebook page dated August 24, 2015 (facebook.com/WonderGel/posts/1185529334794078):

WonderGel

Previously, the Pearce brothers marketed the material under the tradename WonderGel. WonderGel is colored blue, and at the time of writing, it’s still possible to find WonderGel products on Amazon.com. WonderGel’s website (WonderGel.com) remains active as of press time.

More on the Purple Company’s history: Read the Shopify case study “How This Purple Mattress 20 Years in the Making Became an Overnight Success with Shopify Plus”

Marketing for the Purple material appears throughout, with more at onpurple.com/science

Benefit selling for the material revolves around greater heat flux (read: no hot spots), neutral pressure, and neutral alignment of spine (especially important for side sleepers).

Surprise: Purple’s Hyper-Elastic PolymerTM Isn’t Unique to Purple

In online discussion surrounding the Purple material, I saw reference to SomniGel (beddingcomponents.com/somnigel.asp, somnigel.com). Leggett & Platt Inc., a leader in bedding components, licensed the same technology that is used in Purple. On the bottom of the SomniGel site, in small lettering, “SomniGel® is a trademark of EdiZONE LLC Alpine, UT.” Leggett & Platt brought the material to market under the tradename SomniGel. In Leggett & Platt’s marketing efforts, they demonstrate the material’s extraordinary elasticity by filming elephants standing and lying atop the gel. Once the elephants move off, the material returns to its original shape.

A Leggett & Platt study conducted in collaboration with the Institute of Environmental Research at Kansas State University validated the material’s heat transfer properties as compared to memory foam (L&P study validates SomniGel’s ‘cool factor’, BedTimes).

I shared the video and onPurple website with family. Hope commented that the material looked like the stuff inside of backpack shoulder straps. This is because the stuff inside of backpack shoulder straps also came from EdiZONE – the product in that application was called Gellycomb, licensed to JanSport in January 1999.

New and Upcoming Purple Products

The Purple Pillow

The Purple company launched a new Kickstarter campaign on September 22, 2016, announcing the Purple Pillow: The World’s First No-Pressure Head Bed (Kickstarter.com).

Ending Comments

I was curious whether the Purple company had any intention of bringing a gel mattress topper to market. I followed up on this with a new article: Will Purple Release a Mattress Topper?. This would make a great product for consumers operating on a tighter budget, or for those with newer mattresses that would like to experience Purple’s cushioning technology.

Partway through researching this article, I placed an order on a 2-inch Royal Purple seat cushion to experience firsthand what all the noise is about (MSRP $79.99, Amazon.com). It’s been treating me great, and I’m really pleased with the purchase. I’ve shared my review of the Royal Purple seat cushion.

Personal Thoughts

The Pearce brothers’ go-to-market strategy probably mirrors that originally taken by intelliBED. intelliBED offers the intelliPILLOW, a foam core pillow topped with Intelli-Gel, and supported by an adjustable, hand pumpable air chamber that lifts the pillow up to two inches. If I were a gambling man, I’d wager that the Pearce brothers are building up Purple to be a long fuck you to Robert Rasmussen, and they’re doing a great job by the looks of things.

From a product standpoint, little has changed. Yet Purple has the potential to be a runaway success and a household name, where intelliBED and intelli-GEL will ultimately be forgotten.

Key determinants to Purple’s initial success revolve around social proof and more competitive pricing.

Next Actions
I’m working on a review of the Purple Mattress. I’ll publish my review once I’ve collected sufficient sleep data to assess the marketing claims mentioned earlier. You can expect objective sleep data, courtesy of my Misfit Shine activity tracker.

I have also reached out to Purple to inquire about becoming a Purple affiliate, but have yet to receive a response.

Edits

  • 20161115: Added link to my Royal Purple Seat Cushion review, updated Next Actions
  • 20161005: Added new text blocks – The Purple Pillow, Personal Thoughts, and Next Actions. Additional content to elaborate on the intelliBED connection, and structural changes for readability
  • 20160923: Additional content, prettified several links
  • 20160916: Fixed a broken link
  • 20160907: Minor formatting changes for readability, added a missing link for the Royal Purple No Pressure Seat Cushion

8 traits of successful people – Richard St. John

What really leads to success?

“8 to be Great”

  1. Love what you do
  2. Work really hard
  3. Focus on one thing, not everything
  4. Keep pushing yourself
  5. Come up with good ideas
  6. Keep improving yourself and what you do
  7. Serve others something of value, because success isn’t just about me, me, me
  8. Persist, because there’s no overnight success

More people said these 8 things helped them than anything else

They are the foundation of success – on top of those, we build the particular skills that we need for our career: technical skills, analytical skills, people skills, creative skills. No matter what field we’re in, these eight traits will be at the heart of our success.

Pizza Delivery Driving Tips

I’m writing this article after having worked at Domino’s as a delivery driver. I start with a discussion of my personal philosophy on the job and earning money as a pizza delivery driver. I then introduce some nuggets of wisdom that I received before my first shift. This culminates in a number of common-sense items that I believe are the foundation for working effectively in this capacity, and I’m writing a follow-up article to discuss one simple trick that I found significantly increased my earning potential within the scope of this job.

First, some history and philosophy about the job:

I took up delivery driving because I’d gone without a regular source of income for months on end, and market forces were working in my favor. My lack of an occupation left me feeling out of place: I was essentially living the life of a retiree at the age of 25. Concurrently, crude oil bottomed out at $45 a barrel. This made using my car to make money a fairly attractive proposition.

My delivery driving experience started with very little in the way of training, not that I could have expected much. The job itself is simple: all you have to do is safely take the order over to the customer, making sure not to forget anything. You find doing this that you’re entirely at the mercy of the customer. After all, they are the ones who wield the power. They decide how much money you will make during any given shift. Do this for a while, and you’ll have your share of good and bad experiences.

When I started at Domino’s, I went under the impression that I would be going just to do my job, and to get out as soon as my shift was over. What I found was that by consciously working to be the best pizza delivery driver that I could be, the customer came to appreciate that, and so with every interaction I sought to make a good impression. Likewise, I found that good work ethic earned me the respect of my peers, and I quickly became a trusted and valuable member of the team. It was the least that I could do, and the most that my position required of me.

A brief aside

When starting a new job, you can shorten your learning curve and save yourself grief by learning from the experiences of others.

Start by looking at an example of a very poor delivery experience. The pizza delivery driver appears thirty minutes late at your door, badly in need of a shave, and there’s pizza sauce smeared across his shirt (wrinkles, wrinkles everywhere!). His beat up car, music blaring, sits idling noisily on your driveway. It expels the occasional puff of off-white smoke between misfires. The pizza delivery driver shoves your order at you before presenting his upturned hand in your direction. If yours was a credit card order, he reaches into his pocket and brings out a crumpled receipt for you to sign (of course he has no pen). If cash, no change to offer. Naturally, he receives a poor tip.

Three functions in optimizing revenue

  1. Increase revenue potential
  2. Minimize lost revenue opportunities
  3. Maintain work efficiency

If you pay attention to these three functions, you’ll be a smooth operator.

Discovering the Key to Earning Fat Tips

I saw it written once that a rich man is someone who makes 15% more than you do. With that in mind I set about on my pizza delivery career for Domino’s Pizza seeking a way that would guarantee I would make greater tips than anyone else for the time that I spent on my shift.

To make 15% more than your peers, simply reaching the level of acceptable is not enough. You have to go a step further.

I started by querying WF about his delivery driving experience. WF had been working at Jimmy John’s, mostly as a delivery driver, since he came to Houston just over half a year ago. He had recently decided to pick up a second job as a delivery driver – he tried Domino’s against a Houston-based pizza chain over the period of one week. I knew that he’d have some wisdom to pass down about the job.

WF’s tips on delivery driving dealt primarily with the core tasks of navigating and presentment of the customer’s order.

On navigating:

  • Know your delivery area: have a general idea of where an address is so that you can get headed in the right direction as soon as you leave the store
  • Avoid traffic: when there are long waits to make a turn, cut through an adjacent lot to skip the line

On presenting the customer with their order:

  • Hold the order above your head, with your arm out at an angle to your body (like a server at a restaurant)
  • Employ some theatrics: make the experience engaging for your customer. At events with groups, ask where they would like you to place the food items

I thanked WF for these tips, and searched for more to add to the list.

Pizza Delivery Driving Tips

Here are some tips that I found through my experience working at Domino’s, ways to create a good impression upon the customer, in partial service of Domino’s corporate goal of, “Sell more pizza, have more fun!”

A quick refresher on the three functions of optimizing your pizza delivery:

  1. Increase revenue potential
  2. Minimize lost revenue opportunities
  3. Maintain work efficiency

Judge for yourself how these tips apply to the three functions.

The first tip: be prepared. This is the Scout Motto, and something that you ought to hold close to heart. This means reviewing the order before it leaves the building. I left the store without customer drink orders a couple of times in my first week at Domino’s, adding unnecessary time to my delivery run. In the event that you leave the building with a botched order, it’s highly likely that you will be the one who has to make it right with the customer. Eliminate repeat trips during which you won’t make anything, and you’ll have the capacity to take more deliveries during your shift.

In the event that you arrive at the delivery address without the customer’s soda, it’s probably worth your time to go to the nearest store and purchase the soda with your own money. You can inform your manager about the incident later.

If your customer has paid for the order with a credit card, a good place to keep the receipt is on top of the pizza box, and inside of the bag. This ensures that the receipt won’t get lost, soiled, or come out looking like garbage. Bonus points for keeping receipts on a clipboard (more on this, later, in the section on tools)

If a customer is paying cash for an order, let the customer know aloud how much change they are due. Go through the process of counting out the customer’s change, and hand it to them. Customers will tell you if they want you to keep the change or not. It’s always safe to assume that the customer wants all of their change, unless they say otherwise.

On my first few cash orders, I’d prepare coin change before leaving my car with the customer’s order. I no longer do this, because I find that most of my customers will tell me to keep the change right away. I do keep sufficient coin change in my car. My BMW E46 has a very neat coin holder. If your vehicle isn’t equipped with a good coin holder, it may be worthwhile to invest in a coin holder.

Treat your customer with respect. This goes without saying. Unless they prove otherwise, assume that the customer is deserving of your respect.

If you are late to the customer’s address, make some type of apology to the customer in recognizance of this. It can be as simple as telling the customer that things got hectic at the store. Most people will be quite understanding. In these situations, I always thank the customer for their patience as part of my greeting.

Take pride in your job, and take it seriously. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about working any job, it’s that. Your customers (and your coworkers!) can tell the difference. When you behave professionally, you eventually establish a good reputation. This results in myriad benefits that you wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.

Weigh the costs and benefits of speeding, especially inside of residential areas. When you accelerate and decelerate rapidly, you introduce added stress on your vehicle. Tickets are counter-productive to your hustle. Are the potential rewards from arriving a few minutes early worth the risk?

Keep your vehicle street-legal. Getting pulled over for any issue with your vehicle will slow you down at best, and may result in a ticket at worst.

Maintain your vehicle, both inside and out. Under normal conditions (read: garaged, driven to the grocery store and back every week), I might check my vehicle’s tire pressure once a month. When I’m relying on my vehicle as a money-making tool, I increase the frequency of these checks. I am careful to account for my vehicle’s needs, because keeping it running well means that I can perform my job with fewer unexpected setbacks. The customer will almost never see the inside of your car, but in the off chance that they do, what does your vehicle’s interior say about you?

Take good care of yourself. Aside from your vehicle, the most important machine to take care of for this job is your body. Make sure to treat your body well. Get enough rest so that you are vigilant on the road. If you’re working hard, you deserve to eat well. You can do much more in good health than in poor health.

Appear professional. Like it or not, you will be judged by the customer based on your appearance. At Domino’s, there are rules on facial grooming standards and the use of hair colorings and dyes. Not every pizza shop is going to have such restrictions on how you look, but it’s always safer to err on the side of caution lest your customer take offense.

Finally, avoid these unproductive behaviors:

      Passive aggression
      Dwelling on the bad customers. I’d rather do something about them, instead of fretting about it.
      Avoiding what needs to be done. If it’s part of your job description, you should see to it that you do it in a timely manner to the best of your ability.
      Substance abuse. If it isn’t helping your work performance, then don’t bother with it. If you want to be the stoner pizza delivery guy, you can be that guy, though I think you owe it to yourself to try it sober.

Potentially Useful Tips

Dave Ramsey has apparently been a vocal supporter of taking up pizza delivery driving for extra money. If your customer knows Dave Ramsey and has heard him speaking, you might get extra consideration by using the line, “I’m doing better than I deserve” when you exchange pleasantries.

Using a highlighter to call attention to the tip, total, and signature lines on a credit card receipt may help, but I don’t bother with this because I use my time before leaving the store doing something else (you can read about it, soon)

Probably Bogus

I’ve read some reports of pizza delivery drivers with multiple cars stating that they’ll drive their beater, reasoning that a customer spotting a nice car might not tip as well, assuming the driver to be well off. I’ve gotten a handful of compliments and humorous comments on my BMW E46 from customers. Most customers will hardly notice your car, so long as it doesn’t draw attention to itself in a big way.

Possibly Damaging

You might ask the customer if they need their change, but some customers may take offense to this question.

Tools

– Get on Amazon.com and pick up a 6″ x 9″ clipboard, or look into Vaultz for a premium touch
– Pens (keep a spare in the car)

One simple trick to make fat tips

It’s easy to get upset with a customer, say, for leaving no tip on a $70 order. From the customer’s point of view, there is no obligation to leave a tip for a basic service. Remember that tipping, while polite, is by no means mandatory.

As a driver, you should ask what you have done to earn a tip. Once you lose the sense of entitlement, you can move forward, and begin to uncover solutions to making more money. It requires that you be an active participant within the game.

Sometimes in customer service, we have a tendency to forget about the customer’s needs because we’re so fixated upon our own. Remember that the customer is your best friend. If not for the customer, you would have no one to serve. Consider this tenet of customer service: take care of the customer, and the customer will take care of you. Exceptional service is the key to earning exceptional tips on the job.

That’s the thinking process that led me to discovering my game changer…

Anti-Stiff Field Test #2

Scenario

Delivery to a credit card customer totaling $20.

Before leaving the store, I routed the destination into Waze. I used the store’s phone and called the customer (one trick to make fat tips). She sounded pleased, and thanked me. I grabbed the order, bagged it, and walked over to my car.

I pulled up to the address. Three vehicles in the driveway. One late-model Mercedes Benz, one pickup truck, one nondescript sedan. The Benz and the pickup truck both had vinyl signs on them, advertising (presumably) the owner’s business.

An African-American male opened the door. He was clad in blue, plaid boxers and a worn white shirt. Chains and a big watch on his wrist. I handed him the order, the receipt on top of the stack, and offered my pen.

He signed for the order. I examined the receipt. He’d filled the tip section with:
$00.00

and wrote in the order total.

Enter Anti-Stiff.

“I noticed that you didn’t leave a tip. It’s my goal to provide exceptional customer service. Were you satisfied with the service that you received tonight?”

He told me that last time, they (the store? the delivery driver?) had forgotten something.

My response with terse, bordering on curt.

“This time?” I inquired.

“This time,” he let out a chuckle as he mumbled my words to himself, retreating behind the door. “Hold on, let me get you something.”

I heard the sounds of coins jingling in the background. Pictured him bringing back a fistful of pennies and throwing them in my face.

He returned. His hand was balled up, and into my upturned palm he placed eight quarters. $2 tip. Modest, by most estimations, but better than nothing.

During his absence, I’d reflected on the exchange. Time to smooth things over with the customer.

“Thank you for your generosity,” I said, “I’m sorry that you had a bad experience with our store in the past. I can promise that if I’m delivering to you, I’ll make sure that everything is right with your order.”

He thanked me, and I returned to the store to take care of my next customer.

Anti-Stiff works. I’ve played with the script in my mind, running through interactions enough times to feel confident deploying it on a whim. My only regret is that I didn’t issue my apology to the customer earlier, instead of falling back on my wits. Not quite smooth yet, but getting there.

No matter – another opportunity to deploy Anti-Stiff will present itself.