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Chinese brands seek to meet soaring demand for smart doze

By LI JIAYING and LIU ZHIHUA | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-06-08 08:52


Sleepless nights and groggy mornings are no longer just personal struggles but a burgeoning market opportunity, as millions of Chinese grapple with sleep issues, sending the demand for smart and advanced sleep solutions soaring.

Difficulty in falling asleep has become a significant factor affecting the quality of sleep among individuals. According to the China Sleep Research Report 2024 by the social psychology research center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, although insomnia rates among Chinese residents improved in 2023, sleep procrastination still worsened compared to 2021 and 2022.

The report has also highlighted four popular methods for improving sleep quality — changing sleep habits, altering daily routines, using sleep-aid products and seeking medical treatment, among which the demand for sleep-aid products in a bedroom scenario is the highest.

For instance, in the case of mattresses, the most desired feature is a sleep-inducing relaxation massage, with an average rating index of 3.73. The second is adjustable sleeping positions, at 3.60, and the third is a comfortable wake-up feature, with a reading of 3.57.

Against this backdrop, a slew of domestic brands have introduced smart bed products, which can cater to individual sleep requirements and offer advanced sleep health management through intelligent technologies — for example, in areas like comfort and relaxation massage, deep sleep monitoring, pre-sleep guidance, noise isolation, as well as antibacterial and anti-mite protection.

For example, Chinese sleep products manufacturer Sleemon's Aise smart beds can simulate the scenario of soothing a baby's back to relax the spine and ease body tension. They can also provide differentiated sleep comfort based on different age and gender groups as well as body shapes, with real-time multi-level responses and dynamic adjustments to sense pressure changes in different zones, the company said.

Similarly, Softide, a smart bed brand of domestic household furniture maker Keeson Technology Corp Ltd, provides customized sleep health management services, focusing on the quality of sleep through a series of digital means and providing optimized recommendations. For example, it has incorporated a one-click reminder function, offering personalized health suggestions for different groups, such as students, young adults and the elderly by monitoring their physiological indicators like heart rate and heart rate variability in realtime.

As a major household furniture supplier for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Keeson provided over 6,000 intelligent beds for the Winter Olympics village in downtown Beijing, which gained affection from the world's athletes for multiple intelligent functions like free adjustment of sleep positions and a zero-gravity mode that allows users to relax quickly.

"Our products command a 36 percent market share in the United States, which means for every 100 electric and intelligent beds sold, 36 are from Keeson," said Tang Guohai, chairman of the company.

"Despite the success brought by the Winter Olympics, domestic awareness of smart beds started relatively late and expanding influence is a top priority for the industry's long-term development," Tang said.

According to market consultancy gonyn.com's report on China's smart bed market (2023-30), the global smart bed market size stood at about $5.207 billion in 2022, with North America now the largest consumer market, accounting for 44 percent, and the Asia-Pacific region at 22 percent. Notably, the penetration rate of smart beds in the Chinese market stands at only 0.2 percent.

Tang said that consumption upgrades and people's higher standards for life quality are expected to drive the future growth of the smart household equipment sector, where huge potential still remains to be explored by companies along the supply chain.

Tang's view found an echo in Li Laibin, chairman of domestic home textile company Mercury Holding Group. "Compared to previous generations, millennial consumers tend to exhibit a distinct preference for quality, diversity and functionality in home textile purchases. The traditional pursuit of practicality has evolved into a desire for not only practicality but also aesthetics and functionality.

"For example, in the past, warmth was the primary need for quilts. Now, consumers demand better sweat-wicking performance, moisture absorption, heat generation, and antibacterial and anti-mite properties."

Chinese consumers' recognition of the impact of the bedding sector on sleep quality is also increasing. The 2023 China Quilt White Paper revealed that 83.5 percent of residents surveyed believed that pillows significantly affect sleep quality, followed by 79.7 percent for mattresses and 73.8 percent for quilts, up from 58 percent in 2020.

The white paper showed that nearly 60 percent of respondents hope quilts can regulate temperature and humidity, while 55.2 percent desire antibacterial functions, representing increasingly rising standards for bedding, as well as new challenges and opportunities for the home textile industry.

"These new demands have emerged as health awareness and sleep quality expectations have risen, which will help drive the industry's upward development."

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