Body Magazine

Forty Weeks’ Market Perspective

Body Magazine

September 10, 2006

When it comes to trending, especially in the fashion industry, everyone wants to be on-trend, formulating their own vision of the market’s future from a myriad of voices and opinions. In the maternity market there is one voice that is being heard longer and louder, Forty Weeks.

Founded in 1999 by former marketing strategist Julia Beck, Forty Weeks is a content and consulting firm focused on the maternity market. Beck, recognizing “the huge number of unmet needs of pregnant women,” created the means for maternity and related companies to develop products and services with the appropriate focus.

“While I was pregnant with my first child, I clearly saw a hole in the perspective, voice and quality of the products being offered. At that point, the majority of products were geared towards the child and NOT the woman who was going through this forty-week experience, which didn’t make sense. Ducks and bunnies are fine for babies, but not for sophisticated women,” said Beck. “I started Forty Weeks to ensure that the focus was on the woman and to help companies elevate the maternity market to the mothers and harness the power of this $30 billion industry. It became clear that we needed to direct our marketing to a woman who is educated, affluent and who does not want to relinquish her sense of self and personal style because she is pregnant, but rather embrace it.”

Reaching this rich, niche market, Beck feels is a twofold process. Companies need to find the right voice and get to the new parents before the baby is born. “If you wait till the birth, you are missing out on the most critical period, which is from the time they found out they are pregnant till after the child is born,” added Beck.

Forty Weeks, using marketing, PR, promotions, partnerships and more, effectively unlocks the possibilities that the more than four million pregnant women in the U.S. represent. The company’s client roster includes such names as American Baby Group, Baby Daze, Bella Belly, Bella Essentials, Blueberry Babies, Bloom Love, Bodywisdom, Bravado! Designs, Centered, Charlotte Bloom Maternity, Daisy Baby, Due Maternity, Duet Designs, InStyle Magazine, Lil’ Dipper, Maternal America, Maclaren, Meet Me in Miami, Nano Baby, 9Months, Ooopa Baby, Petunia Pickle Bottom, Preggie Pops, Real Deal Productions, Skip*Hop, Soho Parenting, The What to Expect Foundation, W Hotels and Tummi as well as the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Looking at the current state of the maternity apparel market, there is a much broader range of styles, said Beck.

“In the high-end of the market, there is no one that does it better than Emilia Fabricant, founder of Cadeau. She has taken contemporary market trends and created high-end, incredibly finely detailed and designed, quality products. Getting the top-end right sets the bar for the rest of the market,” commented Beck. “Pat Gillespie, of Duet Designs and Tummi, does a very good job at being at ‘real-time’ in fashion. She takes a tremendous amount of risk with her lines and her success comes from her experience. She is very calculated about what she does and is always fashion current. Maternal America, a line out of a Los Angeles, is a beautiful line with some kick. Meet Me in Miami has a lot of vintage inspired looks and is a reasonably priced line. One trend that is on its way out is T-shirts. I think that they have had their time, but it has now come and gone.”

The future of the maternity market is bright and is expanding far beyond apparel for mothers-to-be. Items for fathers-to-be as well as accessories are on the rise.

“Accessories are getting to be as strong as the apparel segment. The diaper bag has become so important. It’s become something that can help you define yourself. Stuff for dads is also becoming very important,” stated Beck. “Maternity stores are becoming much more savvy, recognizing that apparel alone will not carry them. The key to their success is covering a broader range of goods, soft and hard, and larger margins. One company that has figured it out and continues to do well is Babystyle.”

Forty Weeks has a strong network of consultants divided between its three offices: New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. For more information or to contact Julia visit fortyweeks.com.

- J.M.