The Digital World Is Changing How CPG Companies Work

Companies and professionals operating in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) industry—a term used to describe products that consumers use up and replace frequently, such as food, beverages and cleaning products—are in for a transition as the skills needed to operate in their field are being upended by the shift to digital channels and other factors. McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) estimates that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) could displace between 400 million and 800 million people worldwide by 2030, creating new jobs at the same time. The skills needed for those jobs are in short supply, however, and McKinsey predicts the shift for the CPG industry is right around the corner.

McKinsey forecasts that CPG companies’ need for physical and manual skills will decline significantly, while the need for technical skills will increase. This is due to many functions, such as warehouse operations, which have a high potential for automation. The growing dominance of digital and online channels will fuel the need for digital expertise and data analytics. Also, McKinsey expects an increasing number of jobs in the industry to demand more social and emotional skills and higher-level cognitive abilities. The company also predicts that new types of work will likely offset jobs lost to automation and AI, with growth in a range of roles, including sales representatives, managers, executives, engineers and service workers.

The CPG industry isn’t the only field ripe for automation. McKinsey says that in the majority of occupations in the U.S., at least 40 percent of activities can be automated. However, only one percent of occupations can be fully automated. Looking at the marketing profession in particular, while intuition and creativity will continue to play a role, data and advanced analytics are expected to factor into almost every decision. Consumer research and “gut feelings” will play a smaller and smaller role in assortment, pricing and promotion. Data scientists and analysts will work with marketers on automated data collection, integration and consolidation, and to generate insights to drive the marketing mix and budget allocation.

For more on McKinsey’s findings and expectations for the CPG field, click here.

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