Over the past few years the FMCG sector has certainly not been immune to the difficulties caused by the struggling UK economy. In response to these difficulties many FMCG companies have been required to scrutinise their digital marketing activities. This in turn has led to many bringing digital in-house rather than outsource to external agencies.
However, this changing trend has highlighted the shortcomings amongst many senior level professionals who lack exposure and experience within the digital space.
Much of the senior management within the sector come from a traditional brand management background and gained much of their experience in an era where digital was still nascent, meaning they could struggle to find roles as the emergence of new technologies and digital channels changes the marketing landscape completely.
Talented, top-tier marketing professionals, many of whom are currently at the senior managerial level, may find themselves unable to find suitable positions at companies who are focussing on building their brand digitally and growing their in-house teams. Many businesses within the FMCG sector are looking for senior leaders with vast exposure to the digital space and are often unwilling to take a risk despite many of these professionals being sector savvy and highly experienced marketers.
One factor in their lack of digital expertise may be the fact that during the 2000s many FMCG companies outsourced their efforts in this area to the agencies specialising in this part of the marketing process, meaning that senior staff may lack in-depth knowledge of the developments that have taken place in the last decade.
This is arguably more of a challenge when it comes to digital than it is for any other discipline, because the speed of technological change means new approaches and paradigms emerge on a regular basis, making it difficult to get up to pace without a great deal of experience and training.
Although more FMCG firms are now bringing their digital efforts in-house, this is unlikely to have too much of an impact on senior staff with little previous exposure to the discipline – as they will delegate much of the decision-making to specialists within their teams.
With some major brands recently bringing elements of their digital marketing campaigns back in-house, it is clear companies are set to build this area of their marketing teams, potentially making it even harder for senior staff with little digital experience to find good positions.
So how can senior level candidates from the FMCG sector improve their situation? EMR recommends undertaking digital training as soon as possible. While this might not bring you up to date with every development, it will show prospective employers you are willing to learn and are not stuck in your ways.
Furthermore, senior level candidates who have the drive and tenacity to create their own digital propositions are likely to stand out from the crowd. If up-skilling and training - either from your current employer or externally sourced - gives you some ideas about how you can develop concepts within the digital sector, attempting to carry these out will highlight your entrepreneurial verve as well as your digital marketing capabilities.
Ultimately, the FMCG industry is taking great strides to bring their digital marketing capabilities in house, as is evinced by the recent moves among top brands to take this arm of their business in-house rather than relying on agencies.
Candidates in senior marketing positions within this industry should push for more digital exposure, both for themselves and their companies - even if this does not find them a new role, it will ensure they become central to their current employer's efforts to embrace new digital trends.