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Is the hunt for maternity wear getting you down?
Do you constantly feel like you are outgrowing every garment and piece of clothing that you pick up, with the changing shape of your body pushing each waistband and leg hole to its limits before you suddenly realise that nothing fits comfortably anymore?
Do you feel overwhelmed by scents and powerful perfumed products which are supposed to relax you in the bath but instead leave you wanting to throw up?
If any of this is true for you, or for someone you know, it’s time to explore and really get to grips with the maternity industry and everything that it offers to make maternity and pregnancy a more pleasant and manageable experience.
The reality of the maternity industry is that it caters to a very specific target buyer at a very specific time of their life, with the industry spending decades simply providing the bare essentials with little regards for changing fashions and personal styles – meeting a wide market need rather than tailoring products and creating brands which speak to different buyers.
Now, however, the maternity industry is a very different story – encompassing entire retail sections and boasting countless brands which each use fashion, style, practicality and of course the value of vouchers and deals in order to entice the captive audience of pregnant women in, as well as opening the industry up to an entirely new buying market – those looking for a maternity gift.
One of the first things to note about the maternity industry is that it no longer simply refers to and caters for garments designed to fit the ever-changing body shape of women who are pregnant. Over the last few years the maternity industry has grown exponentially, reaching into the health and beauty industry, the fashion industry, the baby accessory industry and even the sporting and wellness industry as women become more and more conscious of their needs during pregnancy and the products and brands which can ultimately make the whole experience more manageable.
Of course, a lot of this industry growth relies on more education and awareness of different areas of pregnancy, for example our growing understanding around the importance of staying active and the development of pregnancy-friendly workouts and sporting activities such as yoga and Pilates (without these sorts of developments, maternity active wear would still be at the low growth rate which was reported around 5 years ago).
So, how is that being represented within the industry and the global marketplace?
In short, the maternity industry has spent the last few years doing its best to show pregnant women everywhere that despite the growing bump, they can still dress well, lead active lifestyles, and exude style. In direct response to women spending longer in the office and only going on maternity leave right at the very end of their nine month period, maternity office wear and work apparel has boomed in both production and sales, while casual wear and leggings are still the most popular options for pregnant women as they reach the end of the pregnancy period and approach to birth.
If we look at the market a mere four or five years ago compared with the market today, the most notable difference lies in the way that retailers are presenting maternity ranges and collections. While today’s market leaves pregnant women spoilt for choice with regards to maternity clothing in particular, spanning across a variety of different brand options and price points, a few years ago this was a very different story – with most high street retailers simply having to stock and produce their own label of maternity clothes simply to cater to the industry need. In fact, in 2017, just 0.006% of the luxury market tracked by Edited was directly linked with maternity wear – with buyers and retailers both opting for cheaper own branded goods rather than the production, marketing and purchase of designer wear. Now, that’s not to say that this has grown hugely – it hasn’t. Maternity clothing buyers still aren’t spending much time or money on designer maternity wear created by high end and renowned designer labels, and those designers aren’t dipping into the market anyway.
But what we have seen over the last few years is a rise in specific maternity wear labels and brands whose main focus is on providing style and fashion to the maternity – giving buyers a chance to step away from the confines of high street brand maternity clothes and into something tailored and targeted at them.
Top retailers in the maternity clothing sector include:
The likelihood is that you will recognise more than one of these brands as fashion retailers who have expanded into the maternity sector. And while these are super popular with those looking for fast fashion lines which cater to their needs and often indulge in vouchers and deals suitable for all buyers, the rise in the number of specialist maternity brands also means that the market has options for those prioritising comfort as well as style during pregnancy.
It’s not just maternity clothing which keeps the industry afloat. The sector as a whole embodies a wide range of different products and collections which pop up across various retail industries – for example specialist maternity body creams and stretch mark oils which are relegated to the health and beauty industry and appropriate retailers; pregnancy underwear which is largely found in both fashion retailers and department and lingerie stores; maternity accessories designed to make life more comfortable for a pregnant women for example pregnancy cushions and seat pads; and even wellness workout accessories and videos which are designed to create tailor made workout options for those at various stages of pregnancy.
That is where the importance of much of the maternity industry lies: in the different stages of pregnancy.
The fact is, the maternity industry is so broad because at different stages within the nine months, women and their families need different things. As these things grow more necessary and as the list grows more expansive, the cost of maternity becomes clearer – and so vouchers and deals become ever more necessary.
Some of the most important and popular products in the maternity industry include:
They say that the best products are born from untapped needs and underserved markets, and so the rise of maternity gift brands both online and on e-marketplaces over the last few years has enjoyed a huge spike in sales with more and more individual and commercial buyers looking for ways to gift maternity wear to friends and colleagues without simply presenting them with flowers or a generic bottle of fizz.
One of the ways in which this is managed by retailers is with baby lists – a similar concept to the wedding gift list but where an expectant mother can go into a store and create an online list of products she needs for the baby – which others can access and buy things from. This kind of gifting not only supports a wider cross section of the industry but also makes gifting super easy for buyers.
Another option for those unsure about gifting in the maternity sector is to look into viable gift cards – with the largest selection of retailers offering gift cards being department stores and other high street retailers who offer gift cards for the entirety of their store collections – which includes maternity.
When we look at the various trends shaping the maternity industry, we can start to reveal which products are growing in popularity and which are growing in variety according to the increase in demand. Underwear is a particular example of a maternity product which has seen huge growth, with popular department store retailers like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams dedicating full lingerie collections to maternity wear; serving the growing demand for pieces which are comfortable and practical as well as attractive and well made.
Another trend which has long been popular in the maternity industry but which has received more recognition with the expansion of the sector is around material and which materials are used to manufacture different products – with more and more retailers and brands leaning on materials with extra give and stretch to enable buyers to wear them as they move further into their pregnancy. The long and short of it is that the body changes hugely during pregnancy, and so the popularity and success of a maternity clothing brand in particular leans heavily on how it achieves stylish clothing which is also comfortable – and remains comfortable as the baby grows.
This is much the same when it comes to the health and beauty sector – with the most successful brands and products being those which recognise the power of adverse pregnancy reactions to potent scents, and instead leaning on the importance of the way a cream feels rather than stuffing it with an overpowering scent.
When it comes to marketing trends in particular, as with so many other industries and sectors the power of influential testimonials and celebrity endorsements is high, with pregnant celebrities posting their social media feeds full of brands which have reached out and gifted them various maternity products in the hope of a review or posting about the effectiveness of their product. It shows the extreme power of influencer visuals that a variety of maternity brands see their stock sell out after one well-placed celebrity image, a key example being the maternity wardrobe of British Royal Kate Middleton which gave a range of brands the boost it needed to take off.
Some of the most prominent maternity brands across the entire industry, covering clothing as well as accessories and health and beauty products include:
Perhaps the largest driver of different trends within the maternity industry as a whole is the shifting focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly produce, as well as the changing ways that we view style and the ways in which individual women choose to encompass pregnancy into their lifestyle.
For example, for a woman choosing to go into the office until the first day of official maternity leave, the focus has to be on maternity pieces which are functional and practical but still stylish enough to uphold a high level of appearance aesthetic. This differs hugely from an expectant mother who chooses to stay at home during her pregnancy and who prioritises comfort over style. The demands from these two different captive buyers in the maternity industry are hugely different, and so the industry needs to keep welcoming brands which embody all of these different requirements and demands in order to keep up with the ever-changing marketplace.
One of the best ways to get new brands and products out there in front of the target audience is through online outlets and social platforms, baby fairs and maternity events, and through the use of vouchers and deals which can be either designed to cater to a wide selection of different brands, can be tailored to specific products or retailers, or can even cover entire sectors of an online marketplace store which factors maternity products into a much wider assortment of potential purchases.
The job of the maternity industry is to provide the expectant mother with everything that she and the baby needs during each stage of the pregnancy – with the best brands and retailers being those who are able to keep up with the ever-changing maternity landscape both in terms of current market trends and also the changing needs of a women and the baby as they move through the nine months and approach of birth. And once you get to that stage, it’s time to start exploring the Baby industry!
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