Bed-in-a-Box Brand Casper Wants You to Have FOMO—About Sleeping

Company is launching tech-centered products aimed at giving you a good night's rest and itself an edge over competitors

Jeff Brooks, Casper’s CMO, is photographed at Casper’s first permanent store in downtown Manhattan.
Justin Bettman

In 2014, Neil Parikh, Gabe Flateman and Luke Sherwin were living in Brooklyn with a roommate named Kasper, a lanky German man who had a tendency for tiredness and was so tall his feet dangled off his bed.

At the time, the three men were working with two others—Philip Krim and Jeff Chapin—on the launch of a new kind of mattress company, one that would ditch the exorbitant markups and commissioned salespeople in favor of an ecommerce business focused on wellness. The team was spitballing names for this new company when Parikh thought of his roommate, whose mattress failed to suit his needs—to the point where it didn’t even fit his body. With a switch to the Americanized spelling, Casper was born. The hope was that the name would bring relatability to a business that aimed to upend an industry oftentimes associated with smarminess and deception.

“At the end of the day, what Casper stands for is an experience around sleep that’s very connected to being human,” says Parikh, who has served as Casper’s COO since the company’s founding. “Casper’s a person’s name, so it has certain values and attributes, versus being something that’s branded and you can’t connect with.”

There’s no doubt that Casper is connecting with consumers. The company was valued at $750 million in its last funding round, in June 2017, and has raised $240 million total. Casper doesn’t comment on the number of mattresses sold, but in 2017, its annual sales topped $300 million. In that time, the brand has grown from a bed-in-a-box startup to a major player not only in the world of mattresses but in the business of sleep.

As Casper celebrates its milestone five-year anniversary in April, CMO Jeff Brooks says the brand is beginning its second chapter, which is all about serving as an antidote to hustle culture—the phenomenon of competing with your peers for who stayed at work the latest last night and who arrived the earliest the next day, viewing sleep as merely a pause in the endless professional grind. Now the brand wants to dig deeper and shift people’s attitudes about sleep.

The Casper for man’s best friend arrived in August 2016.

Casper wants to “make it cool to post on Instagram that you’re staying in on a Friday night and going to sleep for eight hours,” Brooks says. And a big part of this mission is the introduction of new products and, now, new tech centered on wellness and self-care. In January, it launched the Casper Glow, a light that dims to get your body ready for bed, designed “to sync with your circadian rhythm and promote healthier sleep patterns.” It links with an app to help coordinate setup and enable customization. Casper Glow, like many of Casper’s innovations, is a brainchild of the company’s research and development arm, Casper Labs, which launched in April 2015.

“Our job in disrupting the old way of buying a mattress is done,” says Brooks. “We have a lot of work to do there to remain the leader in our segment, but we very much view our next disruption as changing the cultural paradigm around sleep.”

The sleep conversation

Casper began with a single product: the Casper mattress. Its simplicity was revolutionary. There were no options for consumers to choose from besides the four standard sizes. That’s because during the prerelease testing phases, the team determined that “with the right mix of technologies, you can actually probably use roughly the same firmness for almost everyone,” says Parikh.

That universal solution is a four-layer mattress that promises optimal firmness throughout (more support for your hips, less for your shoulders), open-cell foam that promotes breathability to keep you cool, a 10-year warranty and a 100-day risk-free sleep trial. In creating this solitary option, Casper “eliminated the unnecessary choice” that mattress shoppers so often face, says Anagha Hanumante, senior intelligence analyst at CB Insights.

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This story first appeared in the Feb. 4, 2019, issue of Brandweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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