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Sales in the packaging industry – a market update

More than ever, the packaging industry is focused on sales growth and so packaging sales jobs are increasing. Companies are looking to hire experienced packaging sales people who have the required knowledge of the design and specification-led sale, including knowledge of the production line and manufacturing processes as well as cost vs. environmental issues such as disposability and the carbon footprint associated with delivery. Packaging companies are also seeking out salespeople who have key client relationships with the end users, especially because of the link between the design and branding of the products.

Growth in packaging sales

The main two markets are based around the raw materials of plastic and cardboard both for attractive primary packaging used by FMCG manufacturers and for secondary transit packaging.
Examples of subsectors in these markets are:
  • The ready meal, thermoformed plastic market and closures (eg. lids, caps and screw top bottle tops)
  • Industrial transit packaging for specialist markets such as aerospace, military, defence, automotive, OEMs
These sectors are growing rapidly due to advances in the manufacturing processes in terms of automation and increased speeds coupled with the trend for innovations such as secondary packaging which can be used as retail display packaging with minor modifications once delivered.
On the other end of the spectrum, timber and aluminium foils are less in demand as a result of being less environmentally sustainable and not as cheap as plastic. Food producers are trading in aluminium for the more microwave-friendly thermoformed plastic containers.

Talent attraction and retention

It’s a candidate’s market at the moment. No question. Good talent is hard to attract and many job offers are being rejected as a result of counter offers from employers and competitors who are prepared to pay higher salaries.
The packaging industry is made up of some large players (mainly corrugate) and lots of small players catering to niches offering packaging sales jobs. Candidates tend to be attracted to niche and specialist players with high profit margin business models rather than high volume, low-margin models. These tend to be companies catering to markets which products carry high profit margins such as alcoholic drinks, cosmetics, health and beauty, personal care, specialist industrial and military markets selling into aerospace, automotive and defence.
Employers look for packaging sales candidates with one or more of the following:
  • Experience of selling specific packaging types to the correct routes to market
  • Experience of dealing with specific customers
  • Understanding of the technology they are selling and the technical issues
  • Understanding of up-to-date legislation surrounding the products
  • Demonstrable sales figures
  • Packaging employers tend to want to employ candidates who can already do the job because there is a lot of technical knowledge required in addition to sales skills.

Advice for candidates in packaging sales job

  1. Keep in touch with our consultants for advice on where the market is moving and which segments pay more
  2. If possible seek to specialise in a lucrative product or route to market
  3. Plan your career - make moves that give you the experience you need to get where you want to be
  4. Set expectations and timescales for progression with your employer at the start of your employment and then stick at it. Most job moves are sideways movements in responsibility sometimes for a slight pay increase, sometimes for parity. The key to progression is to get it where you are currently working before you make the next move

Looking ahead

The upcoming year is all about growth and companies will be setting budgets and planning headcount right now in preparation for growth. It is the perfect time for candidates to be looking for the job that will get them one step further towards their career goal. Smart candidates will make the most of a candidate’s job market and work closely with their recruitment consultant to manage their career rather than making moves in reaction to forces beyond their control such as takeovers and redundancies, which weaken their negotiating position with their new employer.

Submit your CV today, browse our technical sales jobs or for information about current sales vacancies in the packaging industry, contact Daniel Corcoran at Michael Page Sales.

T: +44 121 2309426