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From an economic standpoint, competition among product suppliers is a means of providing the best possible price to the consumer. The “best” price does not necessarily mean the lowest price, but a more fair price compared to a situation where competition did not exist. In most cases the result is a lower price to consumers.

The result of competition stems from the idea that competing suppliers will try to outbid each other and potentially give up part of their profit to make the sale instead of losing the sale to a competitor. In some cases this can result in the supplier actually losing money on the sale in hopes that they will make it up with additional sales to the same customer.

In order for competition for a product to exist, there needs to be a means of comparing the benefits a product provides to the consumer. When we are dealing with the exact same product, the comparison is easy. For example, a Sony stereo model X will be the same product wherever you shop. The suppliers know this and will compete on price, service or additional benefits they hope will make their Sony stereo model X more valuable to the consumer than the competitors (better return policy or favorable shipping, for example).

In other cases the product may not be exactly the same, such as buying a “comparable” car from two different auto manufactures (the Honda Accord vs. the Toyota Camry). In this situation the consumer is still armed with enough available information to make fair comparisons. For example, one may compare safety features, horsepower or other performance aspects, comfort and luxury features like leather interior and heated seats, then relate all of these easily understood features back to a bottom line price.

Mattresses, however, are intentionally confusing. There is a “non-comparables” process that is very unique to the mattress industry and is primarily used to confuse consumers and reduce competition. Add to this some of the most notoriously aggressive and sometimes illegal sales tactics, finger pointing between retailers and manufactures, and you have an outcome that is designed to basically take money from the unsuspecting consumer who is usually ignorant to the whole process.


Keep Reading: "The First Problem: It's All in the Name!"...
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