The maternity wear industry is growing and so is the number of online and offline brands. If we talk of the e-commerce players, major names like firstcry.com, babyoye.com from Mahindra retail and many others are selling this well demanded fashion line.
Maternity wear is not a new industry, but with new trends and demands, the industry is shining brighter these days. In this booming industry, the increase in the pregnant working women population is the major key driver. Technavio’s market research analyst predicts the maternity wear market to reach a market value of around USD 13 billion by the end of 2019. Let’s dig into the real challenges of this industry and see how maternity wear brands are shaping up via franchising and other business models.
The maternity wear industry is growing and so is the number of online and offline brands. If we talk of the e-commerce players, major names like firstcry.com, babyoye.com from Mahindra retail and many others are selling this well demanded fashion line. Last year, Spanish fashion brand, Mango also launched its maternity collection in its stores. H&M already has its own maternity line called Mama. As per experts, Indian women have started accepting maternity wear not as a luxury, but as a basic need. There is a lot of awareness in the west and north regions. The much needed style quotient and growing business avenues in this sector has given a good start to a lot of mushrooming brands.
Domestic brands doing big for covering big circumference
So, what is it that the Indian maternity wear brands are doing to attract the customers and grow their business manifold via various models? One such brand is Mumbai-based Nine Maternity wear that is the brain child of Priya Bhave, who is also the Director and Founder of the brand. Currently, Nine has about 150 retail partners across the country and it aims to grow via shop in shop formats too. The brand also follows distribution model via multi branded stores across the country. Priya tells us, “We deliver all over the world and are looking for a suitable partner to introduce a store concept in the UAE. We plan to have a Flag ship store to establish the store concept and understanding of the consumer before approaching franchise partners.”
One of the biggest Kerela-based maternity wear brands, Ziva Maternity currently has 10 stores in Kerela out of which 4 are franchisee run. Ziva was founded in 2012 by Fashion Designer May Joy who is also the Managing Director for Ziva, she says: ‘We want to expand our reach to North India too. We have been hunting for best locations for shops in Chennai and Bangalore also, but due to various reasons an easily accessible shop is hardly available.”
A 2015research conducted by Nielson on behalf ofMaricoLtd proved to be a driving factor for Momzjoy founders. The study done on more than 2000+ expecting Indian mothers found that expectingmothers are as anxious about breastfeeding as their attractiveness during and post pregnancy. Momzjoy Founders, Kriti Baveja and Divya Gupta also surveyed over 200+ expecting mothers and doctors and found them troubled about finding the right mix of fashionable yet comfortable and functional clothes because of problems of fir, size, and long term usability. Then, this completely ‘Make in India’ brand, Momzjoy, came into being. Kriti comments: ‘Franchising model is a good and cost-effective way to expand a business as long as the quality and customer experience is not compromised. We would definitely be wishing to expand our offline presence via a franchise model. Currently, with in-house manufacturing and production, we aim at having an extensive Omni channel approach in India through both, online and offline presence. Apart from our pan-India online presence, we have started retailing our products in offline stores and look at expanding the same.’ Momzjoy delivers pan India and has made customers happy in more than 25 states and 52 cities across India.
The maternity range is still making its way through the old school salesman ways as they still don’t understand the mix of fashion cum functionality. Priya of Nine Maternity says: ‘Even today, the salesman at the MBO stores is a challenge. One of the biggest tasks through online is the size translation. Many consumers purchase without referring to the size guidelines and especially for maternity, consumers have a very unpredictable body growth during the pregnancy phase.’ For Ziva Maternity the biggest challenge in Kerela is explaining the women about maternity wear and its need. As per May, no one knows anything about maternity wear in Kerela. Though, we design concealed opening maternity wear, still it is challenge to design, sell and educate people on this. People do not show interest in investing in maternity wear.’ Finding the right maternity wear is still a challenge for women in India. With the goal to find stylish clothes, many a time they have to look for clothes from stores that might not accommodate their growing curves, and in the process settle for less fashionable and less usable designs. For Momzjoy, it is also a big challenge for maternity brands, to extensively and continuously engage and retain its targeted audience within a fixed span of time of pregnancy and nursing.
Online vs brick and mortar
Many brands feel that via online mode, an expectant woman can access the whole range of maternity wear at the ease of her home, car, office etc. But, the comforts of the offline stores cannot be forgotten where patrons can touch and feel the quality of the product before buying. Especially the size issue, which remains most crucial during maternity, is also solved then and there with offline stores.
There is no uncertainty that the maternity wear industry is clear to grow with possible challenges too. The growth in the maternity wear industry and the trends have been driven by social media, upcoming newer brands and also celebrity moms like Shilpa Shetty Kundra, and Kareena Kapoor Khan. As the demand and responsiveness grows, the maternity wear market is bound to grow at a much faster pace.