Disruptors often rise to prominence because they see an opportunity in their vertical to make an experience more user-friendly or convenient for consumers. And it works – initially. These companies flood consumers with communications highlighting the functional role of their new platform, and word travels fast. Eventually, though, the rest of the industry catches up and is able to provide the same functionality. As a result, many of these disruptive organizations fall as quickly as they rose.
The mattress industry provides a perfect example. This is an industry that hadn’t experienced any significant change in decades – leaving the door open to innovation. Moreover, while many markets were seeing growth in online shopping, mattresses presented a challenge, being large and bulky to ship for any reasonable fee – and besides, customers needed to test them in-store, didn’t they?
Enter companies like Casper, which disrupted the industry by injecting much-needed technology and convenience into the customer journey. Casper created online-only, direct-to-consumer stores through which their mattresses could be compressed into a box small enough for home delivery. And as it turned out, consumers were actually more than willing to buy mattresses online without pre-testing them. In fact, they often preferred the convenience, lower cost and money-back guarantees of online shopping over the traditional retail experience of awkwardly lying on beds while commissioned salespeople look on.
Since Casper launched in 2014, the mattress market has become extremely saturated, now with 175 different players offering ‘bed-in-a-box’ products. The industry has caught up with the disruptors – and now all the products on offer are pretty much the same.
The mattress industry serves as a cautionary tale to other disruptors: “New and exciting” doesn’t usually last. Once a disruptor begins gaining traction with consumers, part of its evolution must include developing communications that connect the company’s products and services to higher-need states and emotions. While other organizations will eventually be able to match the function of a company, emotional connections formed through the right communications can help a disruptor stay ahead of the game.
After all, the goal of every disruptor is not to simply disrupt an industry, but to become the new normal and replace the outdated traditional model. Creating impactful collateral and messaging can help companies evolve from their initial big bangs to lasting, established success stories.