Best Memory Foam Mattress: Reviews and Buyers Guide
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This site is meant to be used as home-base for anyone looking to purchase a memory foam mattress. Memory foam is such a complicated product. There are dozens of manufacturers of memory foam, and with the advent of lower cost Asian foam in the past six or seven years, it has caused many to wonder “Is all memory foam the same?”
The answer is No. All memory foam is not the same. And to complicate matters, not all memory foam retailers are the same. This page will help you easily identify the quality companies and types of memory foam on the market, in addition to providing a wealth of information on memory foam, its history and its applications.
History of memory foam
Memory foam is one of the better known types of foam today, and hasbecome a very important part of the bedding industry in recent years.
There is much folklore behind memory foam being a NASA developed product. This is true, but only to an extent. In the early 1970’s, NASA engineers produced a type of foam called T-foam.
The idea was to make a foam that could be used in the seats and suits of astronauts, to help reduce the negative affect of high g-force pressures on the body. T-foam was the predecessor to the memory foam we are familiar with today.
Unfortunately, T-foam was never used in the space shuttles. So the technology sat there, unused for a long time. One day, somebody stumbled upon the possibility of a consumer application for the foam and set about redeveloping the technology. After years of research they came up with what is the memory foam we are familiar with today.
Initially this was marketed as Swedish memory foam. The company that came up with it was Tempurpedic.
Tempurpedic, widely known today had very humble beginnings. They opened a store in the Midwest in a small shopping center. Though profitable, the store was not doing unbelievable sales. At this point Tempurpedic was the only company marketing memory foam. The year was 1992.
What the company realized is that if they were to become large, they were going to have to develop a new way of distributing their product. Other mattress stores just wouldn’t carry them; there wasn’t enough demand.
So the company, with significant venture capital involved at this point, developed a very sophisticated direct marketing campaign. This consisted of 30 minute to 60 minute infomercials. The infomercials were played late at night when most people that had trouble sleeping were still up. Though very costly, the campaigns proved to be successful.
Tempurpedic had accomplished something that nobody had to done before in the mattress industry, selling to consumers without having the customer try the bed first. The catch was they would have to offer some sort of trial period, in which people could get at least a percentage of their money back.
This strategy was played for about 5 years, with literally no competition from other companies. It got to the point where this market could no longer be ignored because of its growing size, thus the competition entered. Initially, the competition’s memory foam was far inferior to Tempurpedic’s foam. Where as Tempurpedic was marketing 5.3lb memory foam, the competition used 2-3lb memory foam and the difference was very apparent.
Over the next few years, the competition became greater and greater and there were even Chinese manufacturers that entered the mix. At this point, the quality of Tempurpedic alternatives really took a dive. Clay and all types of harmful chemicals were being mixed in with the foam. On top of adding chemicals people were misrepresenting the products they were selling.
Fortunately, in the last few years the domestic memory foam market has caught up with Tempurpedic. You still need to be wary of things like density and whether it is 100% viscoelestic memory foam or not ( memory foam buying guide ). There are domestic alternatives that are just as good, in some cases better than Tempurpedic.
Today memory foam can be found in all major mattress stores. The market accounts for about 10% of mattress sales each year. In most mattress stores you will find Tempurpedic mattresses along with a low end, low density memory foam mattress that is carried to hit a certain price point. You will not find memory foam beds with foam of the same density as Tempurpedic’s in stores. We’ve been told by certain dealers that this was a part of their dealer agreement with Tempurpedic. A good place to get memory foam of the same quality as Tempurpedic is right here on the internet.
(See our ratings of online memory foam stores here)
Memory foam is even sold in big box retailers, such as Wal-mart and Target today. You can buy it on airline catalogs and airports, as well as over the phone. We recommend doing your homework and you’ll end up with a good product. Our website is packed with real reviews of retailers, both online and off, and of buying information, as well as answers to even the oddest memory foam questions you may have.