Are you reading this a little bleary-eyed? Didn’t get enough sleep last night? Maybe you want to spend some money on that? Certainly a number of brands want you to.
The business of sleep is the next big thing to keep ambitious CEOs awake at night. (Yes, we couldn’t resist that one.)

Have you read Arianna Huffington’s new book, The Sleep Revolution? She was inspired to write it after she came round from passing out exhausted and hitting her head on her Huff Po desk.

A new study from IBISWorld reveals that sleep clinics have seen consistent, fast-paced growth in the last 5 years, (probably as a result of the proliferation of always-on electronic items and the always-on life they promote) and will generate over $10Bn by 2020 – with no single dominant brand emerging in the market yet.

Whatever sector you’re in, you can be in the business of sleep.

High-end hotels used to promote the quality of their offering by promoting the quality of their bar scene. Now it’s the Hypnos beds that you’ll sleep on.

If you’re at home tonight, you can rest your head on a Mongolian white goose down pillow for just under £400. And Charlotte and Co (a womenswear retailer client of ours) has extended their brand to sell you a silk pillow case, so you can wake up after your beauty sleep without a crease – as recommended by Kate Middleton’s make up artist.

Where consumers go, tech is building empires already. Sleep apps are big news and maybe they won’t all succeed. But the market for sleep disorder diagnostic devices is already over $100M.

One thing is sure. Fully-commercialised sleep is a new market and like any new market, there’s an opportunity for a land grab: to own forever some of the defining values of the sector. Which means there’s a need for clarity of vision and a focus on brand values.

Brand owners can choose to position sleep as rest – a recovery. But we believe that the growth will come from brands which position sleep as offering something unique, in particular its role in the growth of ‘super-abundance’ wellness (see our blog post on the subject here). The outright winners will be those brands that discover a new way of conceptualising and talking about sleep.

We imagine undiscovered opportunities for sleep-promoting brands:
– in restaurants: late night menus which stimulate healthier sleep
– in retail: floorspace dedicated to a range of homewares which promote sleep via smell, lighting, sound, furnishings.
– in grocery: supplements and a focus on ‘dormogenic’ foods.
– in personal services: if you’ve had your wardrobe decluttered, it might be time to have your mind decluttered before you go to sleep.
– and of course, travel: we challenge an airline to promise to leave their passengers feeling better when they step off the plane than when they stepped on it, for their overnight flight.

Chris West is Founder of Verbal Identity, brand strategy consultants working with the leaders of some of the world’s most ambitious brands, helping them clarify their vision and values