On the lighter side of life – Premier Inn goes viral… a story of pillows rather than a virus

Over the past year we have seen first hand how something can go viral. From initial cases in China to a worldwide pandemic COVID-19 has highlighted the meaning perfectly – “of the nature of, caused by, or relating to a virus or viruses”.

In the years leading up to the coronavirus crisis we perhaps interpreted the meaning of viral in a different form as we continued the digital transformation of our lives. Rather than considering the spread of a virus, ‘going viral’ became the journey of an image, video, piece of information as it circulated rapidly and widely on the internet.

At a time that we are witnessing the worse global health crisis of modern times and when aircraft remain on the ground, roads remain quiet and hotel rooms empty, British hotel chain and the UK’s largest hotel brand, Premier Inn, has found itself ‘going viral’… well, its pillow at least.

A craze on popular social media channel TokTok during the coronavirus pandemic has been #TikTokmademebuyit. With hashtagged posts now exceeding 1.3 billion views the platform has become a key shop window for items as short video reviews of products from various industries became regular daily consumption for users.

TikTok has quickly become the go-to consumer discovery tool. In many cases content creators have played a big part in driving the viral popularity of products they’ve shared online whether that is lipstick, leggings or for Premier Inn, it was pillows. One particular user shared her purchase of a pair of Premier Inn pillows and soon had thousands of others watching along.

Now, personally, I always get a good night’s sleep when I stay at Premier Inn properties when travelling. Similarly, I find the pillows comfortable – apparently they are made with blown hypoallergenic fibres to give them “the perfect lightweight and plump shape,” according to Premier Inn.

I’m not a social media influencer though. I don’t think I’ve even told friends and family about my views on a hotel brand’s pillows. However, platforms such as TikTok allow individuals to share their recommendations. Unlike more formal corporate marketing it becomes a seamless and not salesy way to influence purchase decisions. In the eyes of the watcher it is like a friend giving a personal tip on what brands and products to try and why.

In the case of the TikTok post on Premier Inn’s pillows, the original video has over 110,000 views and has already influenced copy cat posts about the quality and comfort of the hotel brand’s bedding. This meant that at the end of Feb-2021 Premier Inn was reporting a +65% uplift in sales of its pillows. In the immediate weeks after the video was posted it confirmed it had sold over 6,000 pairs of pillows, with a +400% increase on sales compared to the same time last year.

Like many businesses, Premier Inn has been forced to adapt to the changing circumstances and hopes it is not just its pillows that will be craved by the general public. With office working remaining very different and still being run in most cases from our home offices – for those that have the space – or bedrooms, spare rooms and kitchens, the hotel brand hopes to expand its in-room comforts to these environments.

“Working from home is all about staying professional whilst enjoying your favourite home comforts,” it says and with its own research revealing that around two-thirds (65%) of Brits only properly dress their top half when working from home it has entered into a partnership to develop the Zzzoovet (to be honest, I did initially check the date to make sure it wasn’t 01-Apr!).

The research indicates that we have embraced working in comfier clothes in a big way, with over a third of Brits (38%) saying they think wearing comfier working clothes helps them work more efficiently, and 1 in 5 saying they wish more casual clothes like pyjamas were acceptable in the office.

As such, Premier Inn has collaborated with The Sewing Rooms, a social enterprise in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, to create the Zzzoovet, an item that gives comfort, whilst also delivering a professional appearance on video calls.

The innovative outfit features a smart unisex crisp white shirt, or a fresh white sweatshirt, giving the wearer a professional and presentable top half for all of their Zoom and Teams video calls, whilst from the waist down the Zzzoovet wraps your bottom-half in a 10.5 tog microfiber Premier Inn duvet.

As well as our new Zzzoovet, we have plenty of other ways you can bring the comfort of Premier Inn into your home all year around.

While items like the Zzzoovet may be innovative, the sale of hotel items is nothing new – from pens, via dressing gowns, to pillows they have been catalogue items for some time. If you are interested, alongside the Zzzoovet and its pillows (available in soft or firm), Premier Inn also offers its hypnos mattresses for sale in single, double, king and super king sizes.

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