2023 Half Year Review – Consumer Electronics

Consumer Electronics, Practice Review

Posted on 3 July 2023

Has 2023 shown us the future of tech?

Each year consumer electronics manufacturers showcase their latest advancements at high-profile events, giving us a glimpse into what is to come. As is tradition, both ends of the spectrum, from mundane to magical are met with equal measures of criticism and scepticism. With 2023’s latest product debut leading us slowly but surely into the future.

At MacGregor Black, we’re supporting a number of clients, particularly across Finance, Ecommerce, and Commercial disciplines as they look to develop their digital and physical sales functions, whilst also retaining a crucial grip on financial analysis and reporting during a tough economic climate. As a result many of our clients are requesting shorter term recruitment campaigns and internal talent teams are seeing increased value from our proactive Talent Alert service.

Into the second half of 2023, we’re expecting to see these trends continue, with an additional focus on NPD and Product/Category Managers as many of our manufacturing clients continue to expand their product portfolios. As inflation continues to rise in many global markets, demand has remained, however continues its shift toward more value-based purchases. A trend we’re seeing across many of our practices as consumer consistently seek to bring more products and services ‘in-house’ at cost-effective and sustainable price points. As a result of this, traditionally higher-price point items are beginning to witness (on average) a drop in pricing as consumers are less inclined to spontaneously replace and more inclined to reuse.

Companies such as Hisense have experienced particular success largely due to ATL sports marketing campaigns, the further development of global sales networks and their impressive quality vs price point ratio.

Smart device and wearable tech also continues to grow in demand due to shifting global demographics and advancements in technology. Apple’s latest release of their ‘Vision Pro’ headset is a clear signal to the market that they feel consumers are ready for Augmented Reality, pioneering the move much as they did with the Apple Watch. We’re seeing a number of manufacturers commission market maps, in preparation for an increase in similar products over the long-term.

Our dedicated practice has grown with the addition of Daniel Hookway. A former professional golfer, Dan brings with him first-hand experience within an award-winning digital agency, supporting high-performing SEO, PPC, and Data Analytics campaigns. At MacGregor Black he leads our ecommerce division within our Consumer Goods practice, delivering industry-leading management & executive recruitment campaigns, on both permanent and interim vacancies.

If you’d like to discuss our support on a current or future role, or are looking for your next career move, get in touch with our dedicated Consumer Electronics Practice today via hello@macgregorblack.com or by calling +44 (0)191 691 1949

Drink, Practice Review

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The Great Drinks Disruption.

As the market continues to adjust following covid, supply chain shortages, and rising costs, the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to grow brighter by the day, and the dust is beginning to settle.

Demand is continuing to gather pace among RTD and no-and-low producers, with a range of new product releases continuing to flow into the market. As a result, we’re supporting a number of UK manufacturers as they look to build on their established Operations, Commercial, Marketing, Procurement, and Finance teams.

With NPD and innovation witnessing a meteoric rise in investment, many of our clients have experience portfolio growth. As a result, Marketing in particular has seen a gradual rise in preference toward agency professionals, with the flexibility and fast paced nature lending itself well to many of the ‘multi-brand’ groups that we’ve supported during Q1 and Q2.

With many clients entering new markets, high-performing sales professionals are also in high-demand, including NAM’s, KAM’s, Departmental Heads, and Region/Area/Country Managers. A number of executive headhunts are also due to commence in Q3, particularly in the UK and Scotland, with a number of Commercial positions in our pipeline.

In a boost for the Wine market, the UK government announced a free trade deal between Australia and New Zealand. Coming into effect at the end of Q1, forecast’s have predicted a 53-59% increased in bi-lateral trade, also making it easier for UK professionals to live and work in Australia. However, similar trade deals with the US and the EU, sought by the UK government, have been denied and are looking increasingly unlikely in the short-mid term.

During Q2, our dedicated practice launched a range of successful partnerships with brands across Australia, Germany, and the UK, supporting new clients within craft beer, rum, and luxury spirits. A number of Q3 talent maps are actively being produced on behalf of clients, particularly with Global Travel Retail Executives, International/Senior Key Account Managers, as well as Logistics/Supply Chain, and as always, Skilled Engineers, with a range of exciting new vacancies due to be released in the coming weeks.

To meet the increased demand among NPD, innovation, and operational roles, our global Drinks practice welcomed award-winning mixologist Kieron Hall to the team, who supports our Operations function across national and international Drinks clients.

If you’d like to discuss our support on a current or future role, or are looking for your next career move, get in touch with our dedicated Drinks Practice today via hello@macgregorblack.com or by calling +44 (0)191 691 1949

Food, Practice Review

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Cost of living vs health-conscious consumers.

The global food industry finds itself in the midst of a battle. A battle that sees sustainability at the forefront and in many more ways than one.

The rise in global costs is having varying effects on the markets within consumer & retail. Within the food industry it brings it’s own unique challenges forcing shoppers to reassess their own personal balance between cost, environmental impact, origin, fresh vs frozen, nutrition, as well as where & when to shop. High inflation in the UK & Europe is driving more budget friendly product development, positioning and packaging design, with the US market showing signs of following suit, however at a smaller scale due to considerably lower inflation.

As a result, we’re successfully delivering more reactive and fast paced talent campaigns, with our clients looking to commission and complete projects within reduced timeframes, across all functions. For example, a UK Food Group briefed us on an urgent need for an NPD Technologist. As specialists, we presented a candidate from our network for interview and managed through to acceptance just 6 days after receiving the brief.

Our food practice have added further PSL agreements for three major UK food manufacturers, with a large number of roles available throughout Q3 and Q4 of 2023, including Engineering, Supply Chain, HR, Finance, Procurement, and Commercial. We have also been retained on a range of Executive roles with existing clients based in the UK and Europe, with headhunts ongoing.  

The Commercial arm of our dedicated Food team is working with a number of high-growth SME’s, with a particular focus on building international sales teams to break into new territories. Our Finance specialists have also reported strong growth in their markets, supporting a number of new clients with multi-role team expansion and targeted market maps.

Many of the world’s major food groups have also continued to develop their long-term sustainability and environmental initiatives, including Nestle, Del Monte, and General Mills who aim to be net-zero by 2050 as well as PepsiCo and JBS by 2040.

At MacGregor Black, our global Food practice attended the Retail Supply Chain & Logistics Expo in London, consulting with a number of emerging brands in the market. In April, a selection of our dedicated team attended the Food & Drink Expo at the NEC Birmingham, to support a number of clients with upcoming projects, discuss future vacancies, and offer advice.

If you’d like to discuss our support on a current or future role, or are looking for your next career move, get in touch with our dedicated Food Practice today via hello@macgregorblack.com or by calling +44 (0)191 691 1949

Outdoor, Practice Review, Sports

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Big brands are continuing their digital integration.

With ecommerce spend falling, many industries are continuing their drive toward technology, despite a 3.3% drop in online spend as digital demand heads toward pre-pandemic levels.

In comparison, retail sales are up 1% as shoppers continue to readjust to a post-covid world. Although unbalanced, signalling a clear drop in overall spend, we’re still seeing many of our clients continue to invest in digital in the pursuit of effective re-engagement strategies, as they look to reengage many of the new customers they gained during the online boom.

Brands such as New Balance and Puma enjoyed a particularly strong Q1, following Ecommerce and Digital initiatives during Q3 and Q4 of 2022, along with the continuing of key collaborations, for example AMI Paris, and Aime Leon Dore. A trend which we’re seeing continue, with our team building a number of data analytics and technology-based market maps on behalf of clients in the UK, Netherlands, Scandinavia, and North America.

During Q1, our team attended a number of key industry events such as Slide & OTS, building new partnerships particularly in the UK and US markets, supporting Sales, Marketing, & Operations teams as they look to expand. With many brands looking to expand their product teams, particularly, design and fabric technologists, our team have begun building talent pipelines and producing talent maps to support internal HR teams ahead of upcoming recruitment campaigns.

In Q2, our Sports & Outdoor practice have opened a range of new partnerships with brands based in Holland, Portugal, and the UK, with a number of confidential, executive level headhunts currently taking place. We have also furthered developed our relationships with a number of existing clients, becoming exclusive talent partners for two major UK manufacturers. With ongoing team builds taking place across a number of existing clients, Q3 will see us release a steady flow of new management roles in Marketing, Ecommerce, HR, and Sales in particular.

Our dedicated practice has grown, with the addition of James Westwood who now leads the recruitment of management and executive level finance professionals in both UK & International markets. James holds over a decade of experience as a professional Golfer, followed by roles in Financial Services and is supporting our network of clients through end-to-end vacancy management, team builds, talent mapping, competitor benchmarking, and international relocation.

If you’d like to discuss our support on a current or future role, or are looking for your next career move, get in touch with our dedicated Sport & Outdoor Practice today via hello@macgregorblack.com or by calling +44 (0)191 691 1949

Nursery, Practice Review, Toy Industry

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In today’s market, demand is driven by two main factors.

Technology and Value.

The Nursery & Toy industry, although some may argue was late to the party, is investing rapidly in the two.

In the Nursery industry, although classic toys are in the midst of a boom, the demand in some way confirms the rapid increase in technology, which is driving some consumer behaviour back toward nostalgia.

Not simply an integration of electronics, technology is also being used heavily in the design and manufacturing process, with a wide range of brands seeking to improve the perceived value of their products through sustainability efforts to improve their product’s lifespan and re-usability. One such brand includes Norwegian manufacturer Stokke, recently reporting a 35% revenue increase in 2022 and with EBITDA profit rising to 9%. Additional acquisitions of Limas, Mukako, Babyzen, and Evomove over the last 18 months have further cemented their growth trajectory, along with investments into cutting-edge child development and sustainability strategies.

In the Toy industry, rental services are going through a period of accelerated growth, particularly in the US market, as consumers seek to reduce their overall spend and enter into a more sustainable pattern of behaviour. A model which has already seen strong success in the UK and China. Three more major trends we’re seeing again point to digital, with marketing functions increasing their investment in affiliate/influencer marketing, largely thanks to the unboxing craze. As well as consumers seeking educational toys (a market forecast to grow by $24bn in the period 2020-2024), which often works hand-in-hand with technologically advanced toys, such as iPads and other tablets, with the ability to purchase educational apps.

During Q1, our Nursery & Toy team visited key industry events, including the Nuremberg International Toy Fair, and the Toy Fair in London, to discuss trends in the market and personnel plans for Q3. In particular, the upcoming quarter will see MacGregor Black supporting our partners across Sales, Marketing, Supply Chain, and Operations, with new roles due to be released steadily throughout the year, as well as a number of confidential headhunts that are ongoing.

Throughout Q2, our practice has begun new partnerships with a number of leading brands in Scandinavia and Australia, with a large number of projects ongoing throughout Q3 and Q4. Our team is also supporting two new clients in APAC who are looking to build out their UK Sales teams, with new roles to be released throughout Q3 and Q4.

If you’d like to discuss our support on a current or future role, or are looking for your next career move, get in touch with our dedicated Nursery & Toy Practice today via hello@macgregorblack.com or by calling +44 (0)191 691 1949

Fashion, Luxury, Practice Review

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Luxury is once again on the move.

An industry ever-evolving to not only meet demand but also shape it, is in the midst of large-scale change.

From footwear to face masks and t-shirts to trench coats, luxury is everywhere. Over the last few years in particular, fashion has flooded into all levels of consumer. Where previously, luxury pieces we’re exclusive, aspirational, and often unattainable objects, a number of factors has led to fashion entering into all facets of life.

Not simply satisfied with owning a piece of luxury, many consumers have actively sought heavily branded, instantly recognisable, and exclusive items, such as FOG, Off-White, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Air Jordans, to name just a few brands.

In what is now a market heavily saturated with luxury, we’re seeing many fashion brands begin their plans to pull away from the boom in fashion’s merge with activewear/streetwear, and pivot toward what is considered ‘old money’. Brands such as Sporty & Rich, ALD, and Kith have pioneered the movement and many are preparing to follow suit. We’re managing a sharp increase in demand for marketing, sales, product, design, and buying/merchandising professionals with previous experience in ‘old money’ style luxury, with quality of materials, design principles, cohesive collections, sustainability, and modern minimalism all at the forefront.

Talented experiential/retail professionals are still also in high-demand, as many of our clients seek to elevate and differentiate their in-store experiences. Similarly, design/packaging teams are coming under a renewed focus across many of our European clients, with a number of team builds taking place in Q3 of this year, to fulfil the increased consumer desire for an improved experience, whilst also balancing sustainability goals/quotas. Companies such as John Lewis are continuing their ‘multi-sensory’ in-store offerings, an Inditex-owned Zara have reported a 17.5% jump in revenue following their brand repositioning last year.

Companies such as Birkenstock and Prada started the year strong, with the former celebrating the launch of a new headquarters. Birkenstock is set to base their new HQ in Amsterdam, recently dubbed an emerging fashion hub, a suspected strategic move as the business aims to access a wider pool of international candidates, and strategically strengthen their shipping and logistics capabilities. Whereas, Prada are celebrating a reported 21% increase in revenue, now topping €4.2billion. Many clients are also closely watching events unfold in the nearby Sports & Outdoor industry, as brands such as Nike continue to pursue a DTC model, with varying results.

During the first half of the year, we have successfully delivered urgent projects, within short delivery times, on behalf of a number of new clients in both the UK and Europe, including several immediately available, interim management positions in HR and Product Development. Q2 saw the release of numerous data analytics roles as we support a long-standing European partner’s planned growth phase, as well as priority vacancies across Sales and Ecommerce in particular.

During the second half of the year, our practice have a wide range of projects including international market maps, new talent partnerships in Holland and the US, and new roles available daily through our network of clients in the UK and wider Europe.

We are also pleased to announce that during Q2, our dedicated practice grew with the addition of James Westwood, who leads the recruitment of management & executive level finance professionals in both UK & International markets. James holds over a decade of experience as a professional Golfer, followed by roles in Financial Services and is supporting our network of clients through end-to-end vacancy management, team builds, talent mapping, competitor benchmarking, and international relocation.

If you’d like to discuss our support on a current or future role, or are looking for your next career move, get in touch with our dedicated Fashion & Luxury Practice today via hello@macgregorblack.com or by calling +44 (0)191 691 1949

Health & Beauty, Practice Review

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The ‘Lipstick Effect’ shows no signs of slowing.

An economic term originating from the health and beauty industry’s unwavering resistance to a drop in disposable income, the industry remains resilient as many experience drastic shifts in consumer behaviour.

We’re seeing recent trends continue to solidify themselves in the market, such as the desire for a true multi-brand shopping experience, with a wide range of products, price points, and producers available ‘under one roof’. Retailers such as Sephora are experiencing particularly successful periods due to wide scale investment across physical activations (opening their flagship UK retail store in London’s Westfield shopping centre), digital campaigns, sustainability efforts, and new partnerships with brands such as TikTok and Haus Labs by Lady Gaga.

Other trends we are seeing continue to gather pace include subscription services such as Glossier, the conscious movement toward more clean beauty and B Corps, and the rise of the indie brand. Where although L’Oreal dominates market share, particularly in Western Europe, consumer remain open to new brands, largely driven thanks to effective marketing, influencer, and WoM campaigns. A trend we’re further developing within a large number of our clients’ Sales and Marketing functions.

Legacy trends from Covid, such as the demand for ‘at home’ alternatives, are continuing to solidify themselves in the market. Many have successfully integrated technology into their products, with both new hardware and software. Software such as AI has revolutionised the shopping experience allowing for greater customisation, reduced lead times, and lower return rates, creating an overall improved customer experience.

Another factor continuing to drive considerable consumer and manufacturer decision making during Q1 was sustainability. The rise of B corps in the industry being a prime example, with our consultants supporting a number of client’s sustainability and ethics plans through much of Q2. Support ranges from consultations, talent management, vacancy management, up to full team builds, within NPD, HR, Sustainability & Ethics Specialists, and Sustainable Packaging, across Europe and the US in particular.

During Q2 of this year, our dedicated practice began a range of new partnerships, working on retained propjects with brands in the UK, France, and Australia, as well as supporting long-standing clients in the US.

Strong talent pipelines have been built to support a number of long-term projects in Q3, with a number of exciting Commercial, eCommerce, and Operations roles set to be released, and several interim contracts being managed by our practice.

Our consultants have attended both physical and virtual events at the beginning of the year, including an event in London, for female founders, discussing challenges in the market and supporting start-ups to multinational SME’s, as well as the Clean Beauty Awards, and conducting an MB Talks with Nordic Beauty Expert, Jennifer Carlsson.

If you’d like to discuss our support on a current or future role, or are looking for your next career move, get in touch with our dedicated Health & Beauty Practice today via hello@macgregorblack.com or by calling +44 (0)191 691 1949