Bed pillows seem to wear out at the same time, and replacing them can be alarmingly expensive.
There are many reasons for this, ranging from the shipping costs to the materials of which they are made.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 reasons pillows are so expensive.
Why Are Pillows So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Types Of Filling
One of the things that cause bed pillows to be so expensive is the type of filling that is used to make the pillows fluffy and comfortable.
Down-filled pillows are among the most expensive.
The down is taken from the breast area of a large fowl (usually a goose) and must be gathered by hand, which causes it to come with high price tags.
There is less down on the birds than there are fully-formed feathers, which adds to its rarity and its expense.
People who sleep on their backs and sides enjoy the fact that they can conform these types of pillows to the most desirable configurations to support their heads, necks, and shoulders, simply by rearranging the feathers.
Down pillows are noted for being soft and airy and very comfortable to sleep on, and for their high cost.
Another popular pillow filling is comprised of a small amount of down mixed with mature feathers.
The feathers are specially treated to make them hypoallergenic
They are of such high quality that they provide a plush loft for the pillows and will not poke through the pillow covers.
They are odorless and are silent when the sleepers move, unlike some fillings that can make a crunching sound.
The mixture is noted as being breathable and comfortable, and it allows for good air circulation, causing the pillow not to retain heat as many of the synthetic-filled, lower-priced pillows do.
Among others, kapok, buckwheat hulls, and cotton are also frequently-used natural pillow fillings, each with its own drawbacks and benefits.
2. Materials And Functionality
Bed pillows may look similar on the outside, but their real value lies in their materials and functionality.
Take memory foam pillows, for instance.
The more expensive memory foam pillows are more functional in terms of supporting the body, especially the head and neck areas.
This can make all the difference to a good night’s sleep, and can even aid in the healing of injuries or provide psychological comfort, in some instances.
A. Foam Pillows
There are four different types of memory foam pillows.
The three most expensive ones cost as much as they do for the following reasons.
The Nest Bedding Easy Breather pillow comes at a steep $89 per pillow, and there is good reason for this.
It was designed to have accessible shredded foam that enables its users to unzip it and take out as much foam as needed to create the loft that is perfect for the individual.
The foam appears in a mesh bag that enables it to be laundered, and this is a big plus in keeping a healthier bed environment.
While adjustable, the pillow remains firm.
It also features a cooler cover that is very soft for those hot summer nights.
While some types of memory foam pillows impart a chemical smell when taken from their plastic bags, the more expensive pillows do not.
This is one of the things that justifies the expense.
B. Layered Foam
Tempurpedic has come out with a high-priced layered foam pillow that earns big points for great functionality.
It also costs almost $150.
This pillow has a luxurious level of comfort with its dense layering that offers excellent support.
It is manufactured at three different heights, (aka densities) and has a rather complex design.
Inside the pillow is a thick block of dense memory foam.
This type of pillow is recommended for people who sleep on their backs or sides, and is very supportive for those positions, although it is considered too large by some people.
Adding to its cost is the high-quality fabric used for the outer cover.
The seams are well-stitched and the pillow remains cooler than other types.
C. Contoured Foam
Contoured foam pillows are another variety under the banner of expensive foam pillows.
What makes this type so expensive is the foam is carved to offer full support to the neck.
It is another adjustable pillow that comes with two additional layers of foam that can be added to the inside of the cover to make the perfect height adjustment.
At around $80, these pillows have great workmanship and high-quality covers.
D. Natural Latex Foam
Latex foam or natural foam is noted for being one of the most expensive types of memory foam pillows.
They are highly revered by people who prefer natural products because the latex comes from a specific type of tree sap.
The main expense comes from the fact that the sap is very difficult to extract.
It is sold in two pillow varieties, shredded and block.
The former is known for being moldable, and the latter is firmer and provides better support.
A less expensive type of synthetic latex foam is available but this product does not match the quality of a natural latex foam pillow and sells for much less money.
While some polyester pillows are among the least expensive pillow choices, some can cost $85 and up.
Generally speaking, they are made with polyester fibers that are nice and fluffy and appear by the hundreds.
The more expensive ones are heavily packed.
They can also be custom-crafted to meet the individual needs of one who sleeps on his or her side, back, or stomach.
The best polyester pillows are those that contain synthetic down, which imitates the look and feel of genuine down, and that is light, airy, and moldable.
One of the more high-end pillow brands features a unique design called its “pillow in pillow” design that enables the pillow to be manipulated to change its shape.
Luxury polyester pillows tend to be breathable and keep the sleeper nice and cool through the night.
3. The Outer Shells
The construction of and materials involved in making a pillow’s outer shell can be quite expensive.
Not all pillows have an outer shell, other than the walls of the pillow that contain the filling.
More expensive pillows, however, can have an outer shell system that is quite complex, which explains the higher price.
For instance, some pillows come with a layered outer shell.
The two layers are typically secured using machine stitching.
These outer shells can be part of a system that, along with double inner shells, defines several chambers along the length of the pillow.
The chambers are filled with pillow filling, such as foam or feathers, and the spaces between the chambers are filled with down.
The outer shells of pillows are typically made from the same fabrics that are used to make pillowcases.
They include cotton, silk, nylon, linen, and satin.
Of these choices, silk is the most expensive due to its limited availability and the expensive methods used to manufacture it.
The process of manufacturing silk includes the farming of silkworms, which involves feeding them and keeping them at precise temperatures.
The labor-intensive acts of killing the silkworms and harvesting their cocoons is a resource-heavy, expensive process, which raises the price of pillows a great deal.
One can logically deduce that a larger-sized pillow could drive up pillow costs with the additional expense of adding more filling and fabric.
Not only that but larger pillows must be manufactured in different ways from other pillows because they are above standard size.
This must be accommodated by adjusting the equipment used to make them, or by the manufacturer acquiring new machinery to make larger pillows.
The larger sizes can be made for the head and neck area, or are sometimes manufactured as “body pillows” against which a person’s entire body can rest.
King size pillows are a popular size, regardless of the size of the bed.
If considering spending the extra money to purchase one, a consideration for the pillowcases and shams that will be used with it should be made because, like the pillow itself, these things are more expensive, too.
5. Special Engineering
People purchase specially engineered pillows for different reasons.
Certain shapes and sizes can help with spinal alignment.
Other types of pillows are more conducive to sleep if someone is suffering from insomnia.
Pillows can be manufactured for people of a specific height, or are crafted to accommodate some type of injury, such as a shoulder or leg injury.
Specialty engineering and the machines with which to construct specially engineered pillows cost more for the manufacturer, and the pillows are more labor-intensive when specific dimensions and shapes are required for things such as sports injury recovery or recovery from certain types of surgery.
Do not be surprised by prices that exceed $100.
The consumers are the ones who must absorb the extra costs of pillows of this nature.
Smart pillows are another type of specially engineered pillows that is becoming more and more popular.
While expensive, these pillows also accommodate the needs of multiple consumers.
A more health-conscious demographic is taking advantage of the smart pillow trend because they offer therapeutic relief from spine-related injuries, such as sports injuries.
They are also used as mental health aids to help alleviate stress-related injuries.
However, their shapes and other aspects of special engineering make them much more expensive than other traditionally shaped and sized pillows.
6. Frequency Of Sales
In business, the frequency of sales, or consumption, helps owners establish switching costs.
In other words, items that are purchased less frequently can be sold at higher prices.
Pillow purchasers are not seasonal, nor can they be counted on for specific numbers of sales per year.
Most people keep their pillows for many years before replacing them.
Things that are sold less frequently must be sold at higher prices to compensate for the lack of sales of replacement pillows.
This may change in time, as smart pillows are breaking this trend.
Over the next 10 years, sales of smart pillows are predicted to rise by as much as 12.3%.
We will see if this causes prices to be lowered.
In the meantime, expect good pillows to make a dent in the wallet of the average consumer.
Pillows are sold to retailers at wholesale prices, but it is up to the discretion of the business owners to mark up prices as much as they feel will work in terms of profits.
Normally, mathematical formulas are used to determine the exact price.
However, manufacturers only suggest retail prices, and there is no iron-clad rule that forces retailers to use the mathematical formulas that can help them determine prices.
If a given retailer demands a product that is not easily accessible elsewhere, the prices of merchandise, including pillows, can suddenly and substantially rise.
8. Shipping Costs
Some of the most expensive pillows are those made in Europe.
The cost of shipping has gone through the roof in recent years, and the costs associated with getting the pillows into US stores have skyrocketed.
COVID-19 was the beginning of the rise in shipping costs.
The time during the pandemic has emphasized the importance of maritime container trade and its effect on the worldwide economy.
From London to Paris to New York, the virus interrupted the smooth flow of transport across the globe and overturned supply chains as we knew them.
Labor at ports was cut considerably as many workers contracted the virus and could not show up for work.
Shipping crews and big rig drivers were unable to cross borders due to public health restrictions.
As demand grew, lockdowns prevented the supply chain from operating as it should, causing great delays in delivering merchandise to consumers.
Shipping costs began their tremendous upswing, and they have not eased yet.
As the virus waged on, the expenses associated with shipping merchandise from overseas increased even more over the following months.
The cost of shipping items in bulk increased even more.
As a result, retail businesses began to fold globally.
S malls began to close, and prices started to rise as the cost of shipping was passed down to the consumer.
Shipping costs became a determining factor in world inflation.
The US was hit particularly hard.
When you see pillow price tags that seem extraordinarily high, the shipping costs will be largely responsible.
9. Synthetic Vs. Organic
The average cost of a synthetic pillow is usually lower than that of a natural or organic pillow.
However, over time, the more expensive natural pillow may be the better bargain.
Synthetic pillows tend to not last as long as those made from natural materials.
Some of them, in fact, have very short lifespans, depending on the synthetic materials used, and can wear out after six to twenty-four months of use.
Even though natural pillows tend to have higher prices in the beginning, they can sometimes last up to ten years or even longer.
Natural pillows can be rejuvenated by emptying the filling and fluffing it.
In some instances, the filling can even be replaced or added to for much less money than replacing the entire pillow.
Some even offer inner net bags that enable the filling to be washed and dried, depending on what kind it is.
It can pay off to spring for the extra expense of the natural pillow because after the synthetic ones have been replaced a couple of times, you will have spent two or three times the money that you would have originally spent on the natural ones.
Natural pillows are expensive because they tend to require more manual labor to manufacture, a cost that is passed on to the consumer.
10. Brand Name
When products cost a lot of money, people will often go with the more familiar brand name even if it costs more than a little-known brand of the same quality.
Often, brand names have reputations that impart security to the buyer and cause them to feel more confident about their experiences with the products.
Social acceptance can also play a role in that people want to fit in.
Buying certain brands because there can lie a psychological response to the idea of fitting in better or because buying a particular brand causes them to feel like high-class shoppers using a mentality synonymous with “keeping up with the Joneses.”
When the manufacturers gain customer loyalty, they know that they can charge more for their merchandise and that consumers are willing to pay it, even though the quality might not change or be better at all.
Brand loyalty develops when a high-quality experience occurs, or when a brand advertises that a high-quality experience with the product is bound to occur if the customer chooses that particular brand.
Loyalty is the same thing as having a psychological attachment to the brand.
The effect can cause consumers with brand loyalty to spend a great deal more on a brand, even when they might not be able to afford it.
Although it is not always the case, brand-name merchandise can be of higher quality than ordinary or lesser-known brands.
This is especially the case with designer brands that have built their reputations by using the best materials and by creating the most beautiful products on the market.
An investment in a higher-priced designer pillow can prove to provide a superior pillow overall.
Designers’ reputations are based on customer satisfaction and on their ability to cause their consumers to feel they are special or better for having purchased their products.
Sometimes people will pay more for the work of an expensive designer or brand-name pillows as a means to support their personal images.
Paying a lot of money for pillows can impart an image of having excellent decorating skills or of being wealthier than the person actually is.
Brand-name pillow manufacturers understand why the demographic associated with their products makes the marketing designs that they make.
They also understand that sometimes people feel special when they pay more.
Price markups reflect this knowledge.