FMCG Stands Strong

Thinking of entering the FMCG sector? Read on to find out more about its resilience as an industry.
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The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry is an important business segment for any country’s economy. It spans a myriad of product categories, which include food and dairy, consumer electronics, household products and garment manufacturing, to name but a few.

In Malaysia, some of the bigger multinational FMCG companies that have become household names include DKSH, Unilever, Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive and Dutch Lady – just to name a few.

Locally incorporated firms have also started to make a name for themselves in recent decades due to the burgeoning demand for consumables as a result of a rising population and changes in consumer demand. Local outfits comprise companies like WIPRO UNZA Group, which makes personal care products; garments manufacturer Hing Yiap Knitting Industries; and Spritzer, the brand behind the famous local mineral water label. Then there’s Top Glove, the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer.

It would appear that since the FMCG industry is all about feeding the basic needs and wants of consumers, the industry is fairly shielded from the current economic slowdown.

‘Yes and no,’ said an industry observer. ‘While increased competition (as a result of shrinking demand due to the economic slowdown) has made it difficult for new entrants to enter the industry, the bigger more established entities are able to formulate strategies to ensure their survival in economically challenging times,’ he elaborated.

In other words, companies which had already hurdled barriers of entry and carved themselves a nice slice of market share before the crisis should be well-positioned to survive the current economic slowdown.

Why work at an FMCG?

According to experts, it’s a stable industry. Writing for the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council website, Tim Morris of Coriolis Research stated, ‘There’s a saying in the industry that goes “everyone has to eat”. To this I would add “and wash their clothes and brush their teeth.” Unlike some industries, such as automobiles, computers, and airlines, FMCG does not suffer from mass layoffs every time the economy starts to dip. You may put off buying a car, but you don’t put off dinner. This lends FMCG a level of job security unknown in other industries.’

Generally, experts also opine that the industry is one of the best for fresh graduates to gain a host of experience and knowledge, as it exposes them to many different business segments such as marketing, sales, finance and consulting – all at the same time.

The opportunity for advancement, hence higher salaries and better perks is also high in the industry – so long as you are willing to put in hard work – as there are so many parts to the FMCG value chain.

Where are the jobs?

Jobs in the FMCG sector vary in function. A search of popular job web sites shows that fresh graduates have a host of job types to choose from in this sector:

  • Sales executive: you will generally be in charge of generating new sales and maintaining your company’s existing customer base.
  • Key account executive: in addition to the above you must plan and implement sales and marketing plans as well as provide consultation to specific clients.
  • Purchasing executive: you must develop purchasing strategies and plans for identified categories of purchase (eg raw materials) to ensure cost-effectiveness and quality. You will also be in charge of enforcing adherence to purchasing processes, policies and procedures in order to protect the company’s interests.>
  • Brand executive: you are generally responsible for the development, co-ordination and implementation of marketing ideas. In other words, you will have to come up with new products as well as participate in decisions on the pricing, distribution and overall branding of the products.

Executives will go on to become managers in their various capacities, depending on their ability and tenure of service. Generally, basic salaries for fresh graduates starting work at FMCG MNCs can range from anything between RM2,000 to RM,3000 and can go up to above RM10,000 in five years or so. For smaller firms, salaries are a tad lower, but generally commensurate with the hours of work put in, according to an employee at a small FMCG company in Kepong.