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You’d better be fast

FMCG July 7, 2009

You'd better be fast

The Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector is big business and along with Marketing it is well placed to weather even the most turbulent economic storms. So, if you are looking for fast-paced careers, then FMCG and Marketing could be the ones for you.

Here’s a quick fact for you: in the UK, over 200 million Creme Eggs are sold annually, that’s three for every person in the UK. Welcome to the world of Fast Moving Consumer Goods. It’s a multi-billion pound industry – and one that could offer a great graduate career.

Typically an item is described as ‘fast moving’ if it is sold quickly and at a relatively low cost and will include products such as toothpaste, deodorant, detergent and (increasingly) packaged food and drinks. Think about your average weekly shop. You may not have ever realised it before, but no doubt you are buying FMCGs on a regularly basis. Unilever, Nestlé, Danone, Colgate-Palmolive and HJ Heinz are just some of the big names in the business. Companies such as these invest vast amounts of money to ensure consumers remain loyal to their brands. One of the main reasons for the success of FMCG companies is their marketing strategies, but more on that later.

In addition to marketing, positions for graduates within FMCG include selling, developing or managing a range of products. Graduates often enter via training schemes and complete a number of placements in different business sectors. It is one of the most competitive areas for graduate schemes with many applications received for each graduate position.

So how is the FMCG sector holding up in these turbulent times? According to Marketing magazine deodorants are one area in FMCG that sells well, even in times of recession. The magazine says: ‘In total, 95 per cent of women in the UK use a deodorant every day. As you might expect from a product designed to reduce or mask the effects of sweating, sales can be dependent on the weather. This means that the scorching summer of 2003 boosted sales because the products were used more frequently, whereas the milder summers since then seem to have impeded sales.’ According to Mintel, value sales were worth £459m in 2008, a rise of eight per cent over the past five years.

But an item on the Talking Retail website highlighted the fact that some other FMCG areas are not fairing so well in this economic downturn. The website reports: ‘Almost half of shoppers are buying more own label products than they were three months ago, according to new exclusive figures. The survey was conducted by Empathy Research for and found 41 per cent of shoppers have switched to own labels during this time period.’ So the challenge for graduates starting an FMCG career in these difficult times is to make their branded products ‘must-haves’; and one way they can do that is through marketing.

Make your mark
Marketing plays a huge role within the FMCG sector, but it is by no means limited to FMCG companies. The work you do will depend on the type of company you work for, but at the heart of it all, marketing is, according to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), ‘the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’. According to the CIM, marketing is one of the most popular careers today with an estimated one in seven of all UK students hoping to become a successful marketer.

On its website the CIM describes the ‘seven Ps’ in the marketing process. They are as follows:
1. Develop your Product
2. Place or position it in the marketplace
3. Promote it at the right Price with the right People, Processes and Physical Evidence

As a junior marketing manager or marketing assistant you could be doing a very varied role, being involved in all or some of the ‘seven Ps’ above. If you start your career in a large company it may be that the role mostly consists of shadowing senior colleagues and helping with project management. On the other hand, at a smaller company you could hit the ground running and be asked to do the whole gamut of marketing tasks, from writing promotional literature to managing customer databases.

The average starting salary for graduates in FMCG in 2008 was £24,000. Meanwhile, for those in senior marketing roles salaries of £50,000 and beyond are not unknown, so if you like life in the fast line, this could be the job for you.

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