The trailblazers of taste – building the digital teams of the future

Pepsico is putting the 'fast' back in to FMCG

From goji berries to street food; kimchi to the Paleo diet; the food and beverage world is changing fast. Global trends fuse with local specialities. Favourite snacks compete with new sensations. The digital revolution has brought a world of flavours and choices to our doorsteps. New taste ideas are now just a click or a swipe away.

Just as fashion became 'fast' to reflect digital change, global FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) players must also now accelerate. In this world of frenetic digital media, we need to be quick and nimble enough to compete for new markets and respond to the spike of a new trend.

The digital revolution means that consumers stumble across new brands at a rate never seen before. Brand owners need to stand out from the competition in ways that excite and entertain. And as the way we consume information changes and our attention spans change with it, we need to be more creative about how we stop people in their digital tracks.

We can’t do this without a team that reflects the variety and preferences of a new cohort of consumers.

Many of our digital consumers are millennials. But soon their successors – Generation Z - will be spending more money online and on mobile. These 20-somethings are the first in history to have grown up with the internet from a young age. Traditional forms of marketing and commerce don’t cut it.

These are the new trailblazers of taste.

As we transform PepsiCo into a fully digital business across Europe, we’re recruiting people who are living this change. We believe that the digital teams of the future need to have a melting-pot of talents and experience to figure out the answers. So, over the last 18 months we’ve expanded our team and recruited people from the worlds of electronics, gaming, telecoms, CPG, retail, creative and media agencies.

And we’re thinking differently to ensure we attract the next generation of talent too. Gen Z are too often criticised for shunning old-school career paths, but from my experience this generation brings an appetite for challenge and diverse opportunities that our teams of the future need. If we want creativity and dynamism from our recruits, we understand we have to show this to them too.

So this year we’re running a competition for trendsetting graduates to join our digital and insights teams in France, Spain and the UK. We’re calling on graduates to submit their plans for the next big food and beverage trend and those whose ideas are selected will be mentored to supercharge their thinking. Elite candidates will then present their ideas to top executives on the PepsiCo digital and insights panel, with the best fast-tracked into careers with us.

Bringing in young talent is vital but it's crucial we consistently invest in the skills of existing teams as well as searching for new recruits.

Successful digital transformation requires leadership from the top. The chief executive officer of the business – and the heads of the key divisions – need to buy into the plan completely for it to succeed. More and more business leaders know this, and fully recognise that to reap the rewards of this new digital world none of us can carry on with ‘business as usual’.

Our digital and insights teams are two areas of the business with the power to influence products of the future and the way they reach global markets. If we are to see and shape the newest trends in food and beverages, we need to put the 'fast' back into FMCG. It’s time to assemble the digital teams we need - and give them the tools - to become the trailblazers of taste.

Becky Taylor is senior director digital at PepsiCo

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