Sleep has been considered a remedy for health since ancient times, and it is crucial for health management. To achieve healthy sleep, sleep technology is rapidly growing in the global market. According to the global market research firm Visiongain, the global sleep technology market was valued at $16.08 billion in 2022 and is projected to show a growth rate of approximately 22.6% by 2033.
As the number of modern individuals with sleep disorders such as insomnia increases in contemporary society, the sleep tech industry is gaining attention. Notably, at CES 2023, the world’s largest consumer electronics and IT exhibition, sleep technology-related technologies have received significant attention. The outlook for the sleep tech market is promising to the extent that the term “Sleeponomics,” referring to investing and spending money for a good night’s sleep, has been coined.
We exclusively met with World Home Doctor CEO Kim Yongsuk, who is challenging the global market with the next-generation sleep care brand ‘Dr.Friend,’ amid the birth of various products.
Q. What kind of brand is Dr.Friend?
Everyone likely desires to sleep well. Dr.Friend is a sleep care brand born with the intention of providing a stable and proper sleep environment to anyone, regardless of race, gender, or cultural background.
Through Dr.Friend, we strive to enhance the quality of life by enabling many people to experience improved sleep and natural health.
Q. How big is the sleep tech market?
The traditional bedding market has been a commonly encountered market, including mattresses, blankets, and bedding products. However, the concept of sleep tech began to emerge in 2018.
With the addition of science to sleep, the sleep tech market began to take shape by providing solutions that measure sleep quality or address and improve sleep issues. Until around 2011, the domestic sleep industry had formed a market size of approximately 480 billion KRW. However, the market is currently estimated to grow to over 3 trillion KRW.
Dr. Friend Enhances Sleep Quality with Five Key Healthcare Principles
Q. What are the distinctive features of Dr.Friend?
Compared to conventional bedding, the most significant differentiator for Dr.Friend is that it incorporates health care principles. The development began with the idea of creating a product that is most in line with our body’s principles and can be the most activating from the very beginning of its development, rather than being just a regular product.
We have five healthcare messages, and the first one is maintaining normal body temperature. Body temperature is a crucial indicator showing whether our body is in a normal state or not. One of the current issues for modern individuals is hypothermia. When the body temperature drops, cells cannot function properly.
The second message is a detox lifestyle in our daily life. There are many pollution factors both internally and externally. For example, industrialization has led to exposure to pollution such as instant food, air pollution, soil pollution, stress, etc. It is crucial to incorporate detoxification into our lifestyle to address these pollution factors.
The third is grounding. Walking barefoot on a forest path or by the beach gives a refreshing feeling. This is because it creates an effect where the body and the ground periodically balance, promoting good circulation. Since it’s not possible to do this every day, we have applied it to bedding.
The fourth is maintaining soft muscles. Muscles include skeletal muscles that support our bones, smooth muscles found in our internal organs, and cardiac muscles unique to the heart. However, if muscles are tense or stiff, energy is generated in the stomach during food intake, which needs to be transmitted to various organs. When muscles are tight, this transmission doesn’t occur effectively. That’s why products like our Dr.Friend grounding mat are registered with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety as medical devices for muscle pain relief.
The last is promoting smooth blood circulation. Even with the advancement of modern technology, blood cannot be artificially created. It can only be naturally generated within the body. Therefore, our products aim to facilitate good sleep, allowing for the continuous circulation of blood throughout the body.
To demonstrate this, since 2018, we have been collaborating with Ajou University School of Medicine to research anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The results have been officially published in the domestic Journal of Sleep Physiology and Pathology. In 2021, we collaborated with Kyung Hee University School of Medicine to study stress relief, sleep improvement, and the relationship between sleep and depression. Researching whether improving sleep simultaneously alleviates depression and stress, the findings were published in the prestigious journal “BioMedicine” in January 2023.
Q. You collaborated with sports teams as well. Could you provide specific details about this collaboration?
The most rewarding aspect of purchasing our Dr.Friend brand products is the improvement in the quality of life. We continue to make significant efforts to enhance the quality of life, and as part of this initiative, our theme for this year was to contribute to the sports industry as well.
To promote the development of sports culture, we signed a brand partnership with the Hanwha Eagles this year. We also sponsored the Hanwha Classic golf tournament, contributing to the improvement of the quality of life for sports athletes. We believe that athletes need to sleep well. Quality sleep can extend athletes’ lives, and achieving good performance creates a positive cycle, bringing joy to both the athletes and their fans. This year, the Hanwha Eagles achieved an impressive 8-game winning streak. Witnessing the positive and enthusiastic support from Dr.Friend’s customers and staff seems to have fostered a communicative culture that everyone can enjoy as members of society.
Q. We have heard you collaborated with hospitals, not just sports teams. Could you provide specific examples or cases of these collaborations?
In addition to sports teams and championship competitions, our products are also available for hospitals and medical institutions because Dr.Friend’s mats are registered as medical devices. We donated approximately 300 million KRW worth of products to the Saemam Nursing Hospital in Pocheon about three years ago. Many cancer patients suffer from insomnia, and we hoped that our products could contribute to improving their lives. We plan to expand this initiative to the maternity and pet markets.
Q. Sleep cultures vary from country to country. What is Dr.Friend’s unique strategy for global expansion?
The global market is different from Korea. While we traditionally use heated floors and sleeping mats, in the United States, for example, there is a culture of using mattresses. Unlike mats, mattresses are preferred to be very soft. Due to these different lifestyle habits, we conduct extensive research to tailor our products to fit the market.
For products intended for the U.S. market, we present them in mattress form, and our grounding bed has received a patent. We apply designs and technologies that align with the culture of each country in our export products. We do not believe that a product popular in Korea will necessarily be successful overseas. We believe in providing products tailored to each country, increasing the chances of success.
Transitioning from SleepTech to Life Care: Pioneering a Healthier Society
Q. What is your company’s ultimate goal?
Through Smart Dr.Friend, we aim to create a platform that combines basic product capabilities with digital technology. We plan to add a community space while measuring the quality of sleep. Furthermore, if we achieve successful penetration not only in the domestic market but also in the global market, we aspire to establish healing centers. The healing center is conceived as a mini-resort where customers or employees can enjoy leisure. We want to create a genuine healing space where our premium bedding is set up for restful sleep and relaxation.
Ultimately, the goal is to establish the Dr.Friend community through the platform, allowing users to reserve the healing center and leave reviews. We aspire to contribute to a healthier society, providing a good sleep environment that liberates many people from suffering from illnesses and allows them to spend happy moments with their families. Ultimately, we will strive to achieve life care where people can lead a fulfilling and healthy life.
For inquiries and connections with Korean tech companies mentioned in this article, contact us at [email protected]. We’re here to facilitate valuable partnerships.
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