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Marketing: area of work

What would make you buy a bottle of shampoo? This type of thought process is central to a graduate marketing career in the consumer products sector.

If you want a graduate career in marketing consumer products, you’ll need to be able to understand who your customers are and how to communicate with them. You might find yourself marketing directly to consumers (business-to-consumer) or to businesses such as major supermarket chains (business-to-business).

If you work on marketing plans for particular products, you’ll cover the range of points at which consumers may come into contact with them: in stores, on the internet, through direct marketing and the media. You may have to take into consideration what happens after the consumer buys the product, too.

You will typically have volume and sales objectives and tailor your marketing plan and ideas for promotional activities in order to meet them. Your role may have some overlap with the work of colleagues in sales.

What is it like doing a graduate job in consumer product marketing?

In the early stages of your graduate career in consumer products marketing you might find yourself organising product launches, liaising with external agencies over brand communications, and exploring marketing opportunities by working with colleagues in sales, market research or technical development. You could be called upon to build relationships with distribution networks around the world and to explore and identify new trends, focusing on consumer needs and bringing products to the market. You may also develop a career in brand management – maintaining and strengthening household-name brands.

Leading employers in the consumer products sector often run a marketing scheme as part of their internship and graduate programmes. Your best first port of call is to seek an internship while you are still at university, as this gives you a head start when applying for graduate programmes.

You might start as a commercial graduate trainee moving between sales and marketing, and progress to become a brand manager, ultimately progressing to become a global brand market manager and ultimately to become a marketing director for a particular country.

What skills, aptitudes and qualifications are needed for graduate marketing roles in the consumer goods sector?

Marketing graduate schemes in the consumer products sector tend to be open to graduates from any degree discipline and you are likely to need at least a 2:2. Some organisations require a 2:1.

You’ll need to be both creative and analytical, with good commercial awareness. You will also need good negotiating skills and you should be willing to travel and relocate if necessary. You’ll also need to be able to think strategically and on your feet, communicate well with people at different levels and work as part of a team, even under pressure, and demonstrate leadership skills. Recruiters may also look for evidence of commitment to the industry and enthusiasm about their products.