Careers in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG)

The fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry is dynamic and diverse, and one that offers a wealth of career opportunities and a huge range of roles. Employers are some of the biggest brand names around the world, with products used and seen by consumers every single day. The growth of e-commerce in both the UK and globally has brought about great change in the FMCG and retail industry. It is expected that by 2025, FMCG will have a market share of 12% in the UK - almost double its current share. The FMCG industry welcomes graduates from any degree background and looks for people with a passion for their products and the skills to bring them to, and deliver them in, the retail and consumer market.

What is a career in FMCG?

FMCG products cover household items bought in the supermarket and pharmacy on a daily basis.  Additionally, they include plastic goods, stationery, consumer electronics, restaurant and pub foods, beverages, newspapers, magazines and books.

People always need food, drink and other FMCG items, so the industry will always have jobs to offer. Every week sees the launch of hundreds of new products, and behind these products are teams of people in a wide variety of roles. The industry offers graduates an exciting career in an innovative, constantly evolving arena where you can see the results of your work on shop floors around the world.

At any point between manufacture and consumption there will be a multitude of points of contact between suppliers and buyers and, as one of the largest private sector employers in the UK, there are a huge range of graduate FMCG jobs available. Most blue-chip companies have graduate schemes and also have paid work placements for students whist they are still doing their degree. These can be for most roles including engineering, marketing, nutrition and chemistry management. 

Where can I work, what can I do, and how can I get there?

Where can I work?

Many FMCG companies produce a range of products, whereas others focus on a sole product, for example Walkers Crisps. Some typical FMCG employers are:

Wander around a supermarket looking at brands and you will find a wealth of potential employers. 

What can I do?

Roles are either field based or situated within a head office or manufacturing site. There are a huge range available, so we’ve outlined roles that are often of interest to LSE students with links to where you can find more information. If you can, try to talk to someone who’s doing the job you’re interested in, so you can get a real flavour of what it’s like. A driving license is essential for most field roles.

Some of the key roles in an FMCG company are in:

  • Finance – delivers added value to all aspects of the business, offering advice on a range of decisions whilst ensuring the business is under control and run efficiently and effectively. Works with sales and marketing teams analysing category, brand and customer performance; carries out strategic planning and financial forecasting; controls and monitors costs; manages financial accounting and taxation; and takes the lead role in many cross-functional business projects.
  • Food science and technology – looks to improve existing products and create exciting new ones. Works closely with production managers, engineers, nutritionists and marketing experts. There are also roles within the industry for scientists to research new ways of improving the quality of production methods and product packaging. Check out the Prospects Food technologist job profile.
  • Buying/purchasing – ensures that the supply of basic ingredients is constant. May involve global travel to find the right ingredients at the right price.
  • Product and Brand development – works closely with manufacturing and marketing to improve existing brands and create new products. Follow the product from concept to production.
  • Sales/account management – manages relationships with buyers, usually large retailers and wholesalers, to manage buy-in and ensure products are displayed and promoted to company standards. Opportunities for sales personnel start with retailer and foodservice advisers that call on independent retailers and supermarkets, followed by regional account managers, national account managers, and finally sales and managing directors. The Prospects Sales executive job profile provides more information.
  • Marketing – ensures that a company's products are in line with consumer needs. Works closely with product developers and market researchers, advertising or PR agencies and packaging designers. Check out the targetjobs overview of Marketing in FMCG.
  • Management – different divisions within any consumer goods company are likely to offer management opportunities, so think about what you want to manage.
  • Human resources – looks after staff and ensures they are treated fairly. Human resources in an FMCG company covers holiday, sickness, learning and development, and recruitment. They will also handle promotions, PDRs and grievances.

Further roles can be found in IT, Engineering and Quality Assurance, etc. The Grocer is the main trade publication and many jobs can be found advertised here.

How can I get there?

The sector offers various entry points. Potential employers will value passion for ‘the product’, relevant experience, and an understanding of the retail market and consumer behaviour.

To start a career on the commercial side, there are many sales entry roles with organisations that offer a good route into large companies for a commercial career such as:

If you’re looking to gain experience

Any part time work in food service or retail will be valued as it gives you an insight into FMCG and the buying behaviour of shoppers and consumers.

If you’re early on in your career

Large FMCG companies often run graduate schemes with placements that rotate around different parts of the business. This can help you to identify where you fit best. The scheme may be split into commercial or operational, or may be a general scheme across the company.

Most entry level roles are with sales agencies – third party sales organisations that run field sales teams for suppliers. They are specialists in field sales and marketing, and they often have some flexible and part-time opportunities that offer a way in to FMCG sales.

If you have more experience

The industry values transferable skills and there will be opportunities for full time roles within sales agencies, or regional account roles with suppliers. Other opportunities are often in shopper and trade marketing.

If you’re changing career

FMCG is all about fast moving goods and fast moving careers. Roles develop rapidly, and it is possible to change roles and be promoted very quickly. People wishing to change careers should be prepared to first prove ability and then their career will develop.

Not sure what to do next?

We’re here to talk over your career plans with you. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at, so don’t feel you have to have it all worked out. You can book a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub. 

Where can I find out more about working in this sector?

Interested in finding out more about a career in FMCG?

Here are some helpful links, including the ways LSE Careers can work with you on your journey.



External resources:

Professional bodies and associations:

LinkedIn is an effective tool for identifying alumni who are working in the FMCG sector. You can find alumni either by going to the main LSE LinkedIn page and using the alumni tool on there to find alumni who work in retail and FMCG or you can go to specific employer pages and look for LSE alumni who work at those organisations. 

Jobs and opportunities

  • CareerHub – jobs board targeting LSE students, including events and networking opportunities. 
  • Careers at Mars – advice on applying for roles within FMCG. 
  • CPM – a field based third party sales agency.
  • targetjobs: Retail – an overview of jobs, training schemes and placements in the sector.
  • Greenjobs: Retail and FMCG – job board with network of employers advertising jobs in the green industry across a variety of sectors.


Viki Chinn has a background in FMCG and is always happy to speak with students interested in a career in the sector. Feel free to book a one-to-one appointment with her or any of our careers consultants.