Over the past 20 years or so, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) have developed to become a major part of our lives. As more products become available and packaging goods to make them look attractive continues to be big business, hypermarkets, supermarkets, mini markets and superstores all over the world take full advantage.
FMCG products are expected to be consumed within a short span of time; the idea for the manufacturers is that the consumer will then purchase more of the same product. Manufacturers must maintain a constant supply of the product to ensure that the consumer always finds it on the shelf; retailers must constantly observe their customers’ preferences and buying patterns to make sure to stock the products that they want to buy.
How FMCG Companies Work
Years before a box of washing powder or a bar of chocolate reaches a supermarket shelf, it is formulated, tried and tested by professionals in the research and development department of an FMCG company.
This is really where the life cycle of a product begins and the individuals who work in this area usually have a specific degree in the relevant area, eg chemical engineering or nutrition. Degrees from such disciplines will provide them with invaluable knowledge that can be put into practice to create new and interesting products.
While the product is being tested the finance department, and naturally the management of the FMCG company will be deciding on the feasibility of the whole project, and whether there are enough finances to manufacture and release the product into the market. For this area of work, you should be equipped with a good accounting or business management degree. As a junior, you will begin by learning from your superiors who will hopefully have sound market knowledge.
Once the product is ready to be launched, the marketing, brand and sales departments take the lead. This personnel are under a lot of pressure to bring the product. Individuals with various degree backgrounds are often encouraged to join these departments as they are believed to be able to contribute to the well being of the product. Hence, you could have a degree in psychology, mathematics or foreign languages and find yourself very welcome in any one of these departments.
Marketing Manager Vs Brand Manager
Companies like Procter & Gamble, Dutch Lady and Unilever are good establishments for graduates to join and move up in if they are interested in taking up a career in marketing.
In these organisations, marketing managers are responsible for understanding the market in which they operate. With this in mind, marketing plans and strategies are often put in place with the help of all the staff in the marketing department. Budgets are important and these need to be determined annually to give the brand and sales staff an idea of how they can carry out their tasks effectively.
The marketing department usually has various brands in its care and this is where individual brand managers come in. Each of these brand managers has the task of looking after the brand and ensuring that it is properly marketed to the consumer. More often than not, marketing managers and brand managers work with advertising agencies, public relations houses and event management companies to promote the brand and make it a success.
Right at the forefront of an FMCG company are the sales executives. These individuals can have a degree from any discipline before joining the sales force of such a company. You need to have determination, drive and staying power to excel, especially when the going gets tough. Sales executives are invaluable to brand and marketing managers as they are the ones who have the closest connection with the retailers and consumers, and are able to give up-to-the-minute feedback on the brand’s performance.
Moving Up In Retail
The most favourable of the various types of retail sectors you can look into once you have graduated would be the food and fashion outlets. Retail chains like Jusco, Tesco and Carrefour do encourage graduates to join them in their marketing, finance, administration, purchasing and human resource departments. You need to have a relevant degree to be employed in any of these departments.
More importantly, you need to understand that working in a retail environment entails serving customers and keeping them happy at all times. This involves everything from looking into the logistics of a brand to its window display, just to make sure that customers keep coming back.
Many retailers – including Starbucks, Borders and Secret Recipe – welcome young fresh graduates. The employers hope these individuals will enjoy working in the retail environment and later move up to managerial positions. Naturally, they will be given training and encouraged to pursue higher education. Among the supermarket retailers, Jusco has made a name for itself in the area of keeping its employees content by offering them long-service awards, employee benefits and constant recognition for their hard work.
No Limits To Opportunity
A career in the FMCG or retail industry promises to be exciting simply because these are work areas that deal with the lifestyles of consumers. As long as new products are invented and the world revolves around innovation, you can be certain that there will be opportunities in these industries.