Marketing Week has created an excellent study about the declining interest in traditional marketing careers. As a recruiter in the sector (for longer than I'm prepared to commit to writing) I'm sad to hear it.
But I'm not surprised.
From being one of the most competitive and aspirational career choices, particularly in the FMCG and consumer brands sector in recent decades, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't felt the need to work much harder to find willing talent at the more junior ends of the experience spectrum over the past few years.
I thought (perhaps rather foolishly - please don't throw any rotten tomatoes at me for this statement) that maybe this had something to do with the emerging "entitled" or "flakey" millennial generation (so often labeled by the media). They want a lot to justify their efforts, they're worth it, just ask for the world and you'll get it etc etc and there's perhaps still an element of that.
The article here is extensive and covers some relevant points including;
- A lack of education in marketing careers
- Perception of marketing as purely "advertising" or even a poorly paid "sales" career
- A long standing barrier to entry for the working classes with unpaid internships and low level starting salaries.
I've one or two ideas as to why FMCG may be suffering in particular...
1. The lure of technology - Internet / Digital / Tech / lifestyle brands seen as the new employer brand heroes with the social bragging rights.
2. They're perceived to be traditional or behind the curve - lack of investment in meaningful digital marketing.
3. Barriers to entry in terms of experience required or traditional, uber competitive graduate schemes, for only the highest achieving university students
There are possibly more.
I'd love to see a re-enlivened interest in FMCG marketing careers, but I wonder if any of the significant employers will embrace, and make changes when it comes to attracting the Generation Z talent gap?
Do young people still see marketing as a desirable career destination? The answer to this question is crucial in guaranteeing a pipeline of fresh talent entering the industry. The reality is that the lack of information out there explaining the diverse opportunities of a career in marketing puts the industry at a distinct disadvantage in the minds of young people. Marketing also has to contend with a perception problem among the younger generation that it is intrinsically linked with advertising, which Generation Z notoriously either distrust or dislike.