Casper is one of the fastest growing consumer brands of all time. And their idea is annoyingly simple: create the best mattress for a good night’s sleep, make it affordable, and most importantly, make it easy to buy online. It’s a formula that’s worked extremely well for other companies such as Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club. Now, Casper’s applying it to the mattress industry, which in the US is worth $14 billion a year.
In their first month, Casper took an incredible $1 million in revenue – a number they’d forecasted to achieve in 12 months. Two years later, they’ve grown to over 100 employees, raised $70 million in funding and taken more than $100 million in lifetime sales. Going international is next on the agenda. With an office in Berlin and pop-up showroom in London, they’re looking to replicate their success in Europe. Philip Krim, Capser’s CEO, sat down with us to explain how.
Hi Philip. Tell us how the idea came about.
There’s five of us co-founders: Jeff, Gabriel, Luke, Neil and myself. All us were trying to manage busy lives, but not getting enough sleep. At the same time, we were seeing really exciting companies like Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and Warby Parker revolutionize the way their industries worked. We were looking for a company like them that existed in the mattress industry. But there wasn’t anything out there. So we decided to do something ourselves.
You’ve achieved a lot in a relatively short amount of time. What’s the secret?
I think it helps that we never describe ourselves as a mattress company. We see ourselves as a sleep company. People can connect a lot more with that. We’ve also never taken ourselves too seriously. We try to inject a bit of fun in everything we do. For instance, we deliver our mattresses in a box, which not only makes them easy to transport but also gives people a really fun experience of unboxing them. Go online and watch the videos – you’ll see what we mean!
Was there a particular turning point for the company, when things started ramping up?
I’d have to say it was the day we launched, April 22, 2014. We received a huge amount of press, which made a real difference. Following that, people kept getting in touch to tell us about how much they loved their experience with Casper. That’s when you know you’re doing something right. We’ve always put our customer’s experience first, such as offering a 100 night trial so they can make sure it’s exactly the right mattress to help them sleep. I think that’s what’s made the difference.
What have been your most successful marketing activities?
In London, we’ve done a lot of tube advertising which driven a lot of brand awareness. Another thing that’s worked really well for us was the launch of our dog mattress. It came about because we kept seeing posts on social media that people had taken of their dog on a Casper mattress. They’d have captions like “Look how much Fido loves it too.” So the idea to create dog mattresses simply came from that. The press we got from it was mind blowing. Everyone loved it, and we had so much fun creating it.
What role do physical stores played in your business strategy?
We don’t see ourselves as an online or offline company. We want to be wherever our shoppers are. We know a lot of people want to touch and feel our mattresses before they buy them so we’re giving them the opportunity to do just that. You spend 1/3 of your life sleeping on it, so it needs to be right. Our stores are a place for us to have fun with our brand and learn more about our customers. We’ve now got stores in LA, London and New York.
Talk us through your London pop-up?
It’s similar to what we’ve done in LA . We’ve created a whimsical showcase for our Casper products. It’s all been done in-house by one of our designers. In terms of style, it’s quite unique and very Casper. We decided to take a space in Covent Garden with lots of footfall. The design of the store means that it stands out on the street and that brings in a lot of people. It’s been great seeing how much they love exploring the store.
You launched in the UK in August 2016, what’s been the biggest learning so far?
I’d say my biggest learning was the how much build up you need to do in advance of your launch. We only launched in the UK in August, and we’ve still got to do a lot in terms of educating people and raising awareness for how Casper can help when it comes to sleep. Having a physical store has helped with this, it’s a place where people can come in and chat to us in person to find out more.
You’ve also expanded into Germany, Austria and Switzerland. How have you adapted your brand to different markets?
We’ve spent a lot of time localizing our website, which isn’t just about the translation. For each new country we rethink how we communicate our message and what’s going to be received the best. We want to connect with people in a local way, which means having teams on the ground too. We’ve already hired 22 people in Berlin, and we’ve got our first guy in London. We’ll be looking to scale this up in the coming months.
What advice would you give to other brands looking to expand globally?
For a start, you need to think about your business differently in different markets. And that’s a lot more work than you’d imagine. You can just assume that what worked in one country will be deliver the same results in the next. You need to invest time in building new audiences and understanding the local community. But when you get it right, it makes everything worth it.
Tell us, what’s the secret to a good night’s sleep?
Less stress! You need to do whatever you do to get rid of that before heading to bed. And obviously, sleeping on a Casper mattress helps!