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Redefining talent in the ever-changing consumer world

| March 2, 2023

The role of talent in the transformation of consumer products has evolved considerably with the consumer industry relying heavily on tastes and trends and of course the consumer themselves. Those involved in it need to be open, innovative and ready and able to adjust to what each market presents. Every trend, minor and mega, counts! Skillsets must be constantly fine-tuned to keep up, and companies need to partner with recruiters and networks who have their finger on the pulse. But what skills are we talking about and how do you find the right candidates and know-how? We discussed the latest recruitment trends determining clients’ needs across the consumer sector and the skills required for success.

Latest trends, short & long-term and inflation

For Katerina Meimaroglou (Kestria Greece), the definition of talent is the first change in a constantly developing consumer World, because the conditions of working and the way consumers are shopping have changed. ‘So, companies have to redesign how they approach and attract consumers in order to promote their products and services. New consumer behaviours are here to stay and the development of executives with certain skillsets will be gradually developed to meet the redefined standards of the new era. Another issue is that digitalization has shown that it impacts the sales revenue that comes from digital shopping, with people increasingly buying from the home environment and becoming more used to digital equipment,’ says Katerina Meimaroglou.

Sanna Leppaluoto (Kestria Finland) agrees with the above, citing some interesting megatrends which will now evolve in turbulent markets with high inflation and recession. ‘Brands require more responsibility and transparency, not just from the consumer side. The pressure also comes from the law and different business partners who seek a more responsible way of producing and carrying things. This responsibility is a new norm and companies really need to recruit talents to whom ethics and equality are natural. Brand activism will be the way to influence consumer behaviour because values are even more important to consumers. In western countries, the population is getting older and the Generation Z will change consumer habits and are ready to spend more money on services and experiences and prioritize their health and well-being. Digitalisation also effects consumer behaviour because the value of data is increasing all the time. However, consumers are very conscious about their privacy and are willing to control this,’ adds Sanna Leppaluoto.

Resetting talent: hard and soft skills 

Rania Abdalla (Kestria UAE & Egypt) believes these Mega Trends are reshaping the consumer and retail industry. ‘Building the right culture with empathy and developing a change mindset based on trust, communication and growth is imperative in the fast changing consumer & retail industry. This culture then becomes the new personality of a company which organically attracts more “modern” leaders. These are leaders who are inclusive, show empathy to new generations, as well as remote teams, invest in employees’ well-being and create a safe environment for vulnerability. These soft skills must be coupled with deep technological knowledge that enables and accelerates embracing change and transformation. For example, effective leaders track real-time results and resort to fast decisions accordingly, irrespective of the team location.

Another example is the use of mentorship platforms to organize and structure the mentorship process. This of course does not undermine the hard skills represented in technical knowledge, which has also seen major advancement recently and is crucial to have. In conclusion, the sought after leader in the present time is the “Techsavvy humanist with relevant hybrid skills”,’ states Rania Abdalla.

Private labelling vs. branded products 

Mathias Friedrichs (Kestria Germany) sees Inflation as a challenge for FMCG. ‘In times of inflation and uncertainty, consumers are more cautious with their budgets and become quite price-sensitive with their spending, in favour of private-label products while branded products are less in demand. This trend causes a major headache for FMCG companies. The big retail companies are seeking their own profits in this situation and are pushing their own private label offering while at the same time reducing sales of branded products. Since private label products are winning market share in the outlets, FMCG companies are forced to increase their point-of-sale activities in the outlets.

In addition, global FMCG companies need to have strong sales talents in order to closely engage with their trade customers, be it retail, discount, or mass market. Only with a strong relationship with their key accounts, FMCG companies are able to maintain or even grow their business with branded products. It is obvious that the individual quality of the sales executives and their teams makes a difference. FMCG companies with strong individuals in sales have stronger relationships with their key accounts, giving them a competitive edge. As a consequence, we currently see intense competition between FMCG companies fighting for exceptional sales talent,’ says Mathias Friedrichs.

Based on the word of our experts we can safely say that candidates being hired in this sector need to have a very specific skillset and to be especially driven in a way that they are constantly open to being further educated and stepping up their knowledge to face every challenge. Our colleagues see the intricate details such as this that are imperative not just for the candidate, but for the survival and further development of the companies we serve.