By Craig Patterson
New York City-based sleep brand Casper has partnered with Canada’s Indigo Books & Music to house shop-in-store ‘nap pods’, as part of Casper’s retail expansion into the Canadian market. Casper, which launched initially as an online-only memory foam mattress brand, is now partnering with physical retailers to showcase its wares, which have expanded beyond just mattresses to include pillows, bed sheets and even products for pets (Casper is a very well known company and a lot of review websites such as: https://www.trymattress.com/casper-mattress-reviews which does product testing for consumers).
Casper pillows are now available at 30 Indigo locations across Canada this month, as well as on the retailer’s website, indigo.ca. What’s getting the most attention, though, is cleverly-designed birdhouse-like ‘nap pods’ to be housed at seven Indigo locations across the country.
We first reported on Casper’s Canadian expansion in August of 2016, when the company unveiled temporary “snooze rooms” in selected cities, following a spring 2016 “Napmobile” tour that saw stops in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Casper found that having a physical presence created consumer engagement and provided feedback not found online — not to mention, consumers enjoyed being able to test the popular memory foam mattresses prior to buying.
It was an overwhelming success and in March of 2017, Casper launched its first retail presence in Canada through a partnership with Williams-Sonoma-owned retailer West Elm, in Toronto. Casper products had only been available online until then, and the West Elm partnership was the first time that Casper offered its products with a retailer on a cash-and-carry basis, anywhere.
The Indigo partnership further extends Casper’s reach into the Canadian market, though pillows are currently the only items being offered in a similar ‘cash-and-carry’ basis. The birdhouse-like ‘nap pods’ are more for show, though having these in stores will no doubt drive sales for Casper products online. Furthermore, it’s an added element of interest for Indigo, which continues to diversify its product offerings beyond just books and magazines.
One of the seven Indigo stores to house Casper ‘nap pods’ is at Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens. That Indigo location, which opened in the spring of 2016, was the first in the company to feature Indigo’s updated ‘cultural department store’ concept which includes a variety of product categories ranging from books to gifts and homewares. This year will be a very significant year for Indigo’s operations — not only is it expanding into the United States for the first time, it’s also in the process of aggressively leasing space in former Sears Canada locations to further roll-out its new ‘cultural department store’ concept. Last week, Indigo announced that it would open a new store with the format in downtown Vancouver’s former Forever 21 location on Robson Street, and we’ll be hearing more location announcements in the coming months.
Backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Adam Levine and Ashton Kutcher, Casper launched in 2014 as a direct-to-consumer online mattress retailer, with its product delivered in a “how did they do that?” sized box. Casper’s memory foam mattress comes in a variety of sizes, ranging in price between $725 and $1275 (Canadian), depending on size. The company has expanded its product assortment to include a “perfect pillow” pillow-in-a-pillow and soft, breathable sheets, and even dog beds. Casper keeps its prices reasonable by eliminating commission-driven wholesale channels and related costs, including retail space. The company’s phenomenal growth saw it being declared one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies in the World” and in 2015, Casper won the title of TIME Magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2015”, with sales in excess of US $100 million.
Stay tuned for more Casper announcements, as well, with landlords confirming that they’ve been in talks to further expand Casper in dedicated retail spaces.
*Photos were taken at Indigo at CF Sherway Gardens in Toronto, and were supplied by Casper.
Craig Patterson, now based in Toronto, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief Retail Insider. He’s also a retail and real estate consultant, retail tour guide and public speaker.