When a physical therapist designs a pillow, it can get very interesting

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THE PRIGINA: Mr. Big pillow is called the “9” after its shape.

BANGKOK-BASED sleep essentials brand, Mr. Big, known for “physical therapist-designed pillows” for “ergonomic comfort” has arrived in the Philippines hoping to improve Filipino’s sleep quality.

“There’s this wellness movement that is happening globally and that includes people wanting to have a really good night’s sleep,” Tom Castaneda, AVP for Marketing at SM Home, told BusinessWorld during the launch in June 21 at SM Makati.

“In recent years, we noticed that linens are really important for our customers. We saw an increase in pillowcases [sales] and mattresses do really well,” he said, before adding that this is likely because more and more people are renting or buying condominium units.

Mr. Castaneda said they thought of bringing Mr. Big to the country because “the items are really well thought out and are designed by a physical therapist.”

Mr. Big founder, Chawakit Kaoien, was formerly a physical therapist who was working in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital’s respiratory unit. It was because of his responsibility to ensure that critical care patients in this unit could breathe properly and were comfortable that he was said to have “mastered the clever positioning of pillows.”

“To improve the condition of my patients, as well as their quality of life, I would arrange their sleeping positions for various purposes such as to reduce pressure and soreness, to ease pain, to promote blood circulation, and many more,” Mr. Kaoien was quoted as saying in a press release.

He then created what he calls the “9” pillow (named for its shape) which offers an “ergonomic solution for those who prefer to sleep on the sides” as it provides support “in all the right places, ensuring a much more comfortable and restful sleep that won’t result in body aches the next day,” said a company press release.

Aside from the “9” pillow, Mr. Kaoien also created several other pillows, plus duvets and mattresses meant to cater to people of different needs, sleeping habits, and demographics.

Before buying a custom pillow, staff are supposed to input a person’s height, weight, as well as preferred sleeping position (side, back, or stomach) in an app which then recommends the most suitable pillow for the customer.

The pillows are stuffed with “Elasta Fiber,” a material imported from the UK that is said to provide “optimum cushioning and tension and does not clump over time. Pillow shells are 100% cotton, hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant,” said the release.

“The Philippines is quite like Thailand in body size and shape, so the products we offer are suitable here,” Mr. Kaoien told BusinessWorld shortly before the launch.

The brand is currently in six markets in Asia — Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Korea, the Philippines, and Hong Kong — but Mr. Kaoien revealed that they are already setting their sights beyond the region with Australia and the US coming next.

Though he refused to say when they are going to expand into these markets, he said they would have to create and adjust their products to fit the Australian and US markets because the people there are generally bigger than their Asian counterparts and “have different preferences.”

“I have to do a lot of homework [before the expansion],” said Mr. Kaoien.

Mr. Big is currently available in SM Home stores in SM Makati, SM Aura, SM Megamall, and SM Mall of Asia. — Zsarlene B. Chua