Start-ups seek FMCG talent to scale up business
E-commerce firms seeking to raise customer base are looking for people with experience in the packaged consumer goods space
In the packaged consumer goods sector, it is said life of a product is short. A product’s success lies mostly in nimble and innovative marketing strategy based on a better grasp of consumer behaviour.
Consumer insights are the biggest competitive edge that packaged consumer goods firms have over one another in their fight for marketshare. It is this skill set of marketing experts in these companies that is in high demand among e-commerce start-ups.
Bharath Sastry is one of that kind. As vice-president (strategy & insights) ofBournvita Marketing at Cadbury India, now called Mondelez India Food Ltd, he used to sell chocolates and health drinks for around 15 years. Today he heads the consumer division of Cartrade.com, a website that sells used cars.
Ditto with Arvind Singhal. He has a long record of working with firms such as Marico, Asian Paints and McDonald’s and was last year hired by taxi-hailing service TaxiForSure, a four-year-old start-up, as its chief executive.
In their effort to scale up and improve valuation, start-ups in India want to acquire more customers and are looking for people with broad marketing experience in the packaged consumer goods space.
Online lingerie firm Zivame and job portal Babajob, which are looking for senior marketing professionals, have instructed their hiring agencies to get candidates who have worked in consumer goods firms, a person close to the development said on the condition of anonymity.
Recruitment agencies and industry experts say the packaged consumer goods space is becoming a favourite ground for hiring talent for top jobs in start-ups, particularly in the e-commerce sector.
“People with FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) background are in high demand from start-ups. Very often, we have been asked to look for candidates strictly from the FMCG space when it comes to some of the key roles. The biggest effort for start-ups right now is to increase their valuation as most of them are investor driven, and one of the key ways to do it is to bring as many consumers as possible,” said Joseph Devasia, managing director of Antal International, a hiring firm.
More than 80% of the hiring that his Mumbai office has done for e-commerce firms has been from this sector, Devasia said.
Besides, experts say most people who have worked in firms such asHindustan Unilever Ltd, Nestle or Reckitt Benkiser have the same kind of business approach and have gone through similar business cycles. Supply chain managers, digital and brand marketing, category head, principal engagement manager and consumer analytics are some of the roles that have seen demand for talents from the consumer goods segment.
Real estate listing website Housing.com and mobile commerce firm Paytmsaid they hire people from packaged consumer goods space for their sales and research divisions as such people have experience handling consumers.
“Our business spans across India. We need to reach out to the maximum number of people in the country. The expertise and the managerial skills required to do this we need people with good consumer insights. So we typically look for people from FMCG sector and to an extent telecom when it comes to our sales and research team,” said Ajay Nair, chief human resource officer, Housing.com.
Paytm plans to add around 100 people this year in various marketing, sales and supply chain positions, for which it will mostly be looking from the packaged consumer goods space. Buoyed by its recent investments from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, the Bengaluru-based firm has been on a hiring spree with plans to double its headcount to about 5,500 in the next couple years.
“FMCG is one of the key areas that we look at when we hire people for Paytm. People with an FMCG background have a solid understanding of the consumers and this helps us in many ways especially in our operational functions as well,” said Amit Sinha, vice-president, business and people, Paytm.
He said his company is also looking for people from such background in building the distribution network for its physical retail outlet to load cash by consumers in their mobile wallet.
Harold D’souza, co-founder and director of Bengaluru-based WalkWater Talent Advisors, which deals with recruitment for most start-up firms in India, says that packaged consumer goods being an evolved sector has provided a good talent pool.
“Most of the start-ups in India and e-commerce sites are consumer-facing. Supply and delivery are key functions for them. That’s where people from certain consumer goods background fit well in the current start-up businesses,” he said.
This story appeared in the Mint on June 19,2015