Consumer Packaged Goods Companies Aren’t Hiring for Innovation, Josh Bersin Company Research Reveals

  • New labor market insights reveal CPG companies are not actively hiring for “consumer delight” skills (software, data, product marketing), despite growing evidence that these are critical if new products are to hit the mark

  • The sector severely lacks data scientists, despite offering competitive salaries 

  • The latest Global Workforce Intelligence compares comprehensive talent data and job postings to identify the most glaring–and widening–skills gaps

The Josh Bersin Company, the world’s most trusted human capital advisory firm, released new labor market research on the Consumer Packaged Goods industry (CPG) that shows the industry is struggling to attract the talent it needs to stay relevant in its offerings to customers.

In earlier research, The Josh Bersin Company identified that among all the jobs and skills in CPG, “consumer delight” skills such as R&D, marketing, and data analytics are the most in-demand capabilities. They are also among the hardest to find.

“The CPG industry has radically changed,” said Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company. “No longer can consumer products companies sell their offerings through intermediaries like retailers, grocers, and Amazon. They want and need direct access to their customers–leading to a massive reskilling need to build these ‘customer delight,’ marketing, and analytics capabilities.”

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The skills gaps can be partly explained by the sector’s over-reliance on indirect sales channels over recent decades, which distanced internal teams making decisions about products from consumers and their evolving priorities. Furthermore, employers need to be aware of–and adapt to–the differing priorities when attempting to hire externally for the three critical consumer delight skills. For instance, many software developers work remotely, while product marketers may need to work on site. Salary and personal development opportunities can differ from role to role, too.

The Global Workforce Intelligence Project CPG Labor Market findings leverage three unique datasets: Lightcast recruitment analytics,’s recruitment database, and The Josh Bersin Company’s global HR database. By comparing comprehensive talent data and recent job postings, this Labor Market research exposes the danger that has resulted in terms of the glaring, and widening, skills gaps to the sustainability and future success of CPG organizations.

Key findings in the new Labor Market analysis include:

  • Despite offering very competitive salaries (+38% over other sectors) CPG firms lack data scientists, with less than 0.1% of the global talent pool of data scientists working in this vertical
  • The top 15 skills sought by CPG firms support the traditional CPG value chain (linear operations, B2B relationships, and manufacturing). This means that companies are not actively hiring for the future-focused consumer delight skills–software, data or product marketing–that ensure long-term success
  • When hiring for software development talent, CPG firms tend not to offer competitive salaries (-3% less than the average salary for the occupation) and struggle to attract these skills
  • Building on a historically strong marketing background in the industry, CPG employs around 7% of the global population of product marketers, offers competitive salaries (+12%), and fills their job openings in no more than 22 days (notably shorter than when appointing software and data science talent).

The analysis shows that although CPG companies struggle least at attracting product marketers, the sector needs the insights that software and data can bring if it is to make the most of this critical talent segment.

The Bersin Company report recommends CPG firms ensure their offerings align with customer demands and cost expectations through more robust data analysis. For example, data science capabilities are crucial if companies are to maintain a clear view of what customers want and how that evolves based on complex market conditions, like cost of living increases. Furnished with data-driven clarity, product companies can then optimize the branding, messaging and packaging to appeal to their target customers.

In June, the major GWI CPG industry analysis found that the Direct-to-Consumer trend exacerbated an existing gap in market understanding in the sector, increasing the pressure on CPG brands to more accurately forecast and respond to demand, and to develop new “customer delight” skills.

Although the majority of CPG companies are struggling to redress the balance, the June analysis found that industry “Pacesetters” are proactively hiring or developing customer experience specialists, R&D scientists, innovation managers, and data science roles, as the need for merchandisers, warehouse clerks, and store-keepers declines.

Janet Mertens, The Josh Bersin Company Senior Vice President of Research, said:

“As CPG companies look to address their growing skills gaps and build their consumer delight capability, they need to be clear that they are bringing in three distinct talent groups, with differing expectations. To maximize the appeal of their company as a place to work, CPG organization leaders need to make sure they are redesigning the organization and creating space for them to collaboratively co-create a product that the market wants.”

Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company, said:

“As the CPG market realizes the extent of its talent gap, companies will need to be comprehensive in their total rewards package and establish themselves as the employer of choice for the talent they’re trying to bring into the organization. This has as much to do with the environment they are coming into as the remuneration and flexibility around work, especially as these are the people charged with creating the company’s next best product.

“This is also about redesigning how work is done, as recruiting for the three types of role for siloed functions (e.g., marketing department, tech department, data team) will prevent them from collaborating and instinctively sharing important insights, which in turn will curb their ability to cultivate consumer delight capabilities. Ultimately, these hiring strategies need to be underpinned by a new systemic people practice, or ‘Systemic HR’ framework. One that ensures that employers know exactly which skills they are buying from the market, and which they are creating through upskilling, internal mobility, or Learning and Development.”

The findings along with targeted guidance are discussed in a new CPG Labor Market Insights report available for The Josh Bersin Company members

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