Merger of four firms sees Kantar Consulting take fight to consulting industry

12 January 2018 4 min. read
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The advertising industry has been repeatedly warned that large consulting firms are gunning for its market share in recent months, with heavyweights such as Deloitte and Accenture buying up smaller agencies to strengthen their own design offerings. Now, however, WPP’s Kantar has announced it is preparing to take the fight to the consulting sector, using the merger of four advisory firms to launch its own consulting outfit.

Professional services industry groups have been throwing their considerable weight around in the advertising sector for some time now. This prompted advertising industry leaders WPP to suggest – as part of a report announcing flat-lining growth – that the marketing revenues of consultancies entering the sector have been “wildly overestimated” by analysts and the press.

Following major acquisition campaigns of the likes of Deloitte and Accenture – more traditionally associated with audit, advisory and technology services than advertising – buying up firms to create their own digital design wings, top design agencies like WPP have been said to have come under mounting pressure to defend their market share from the new-comers. Deloitte’s creative arm now includes UK-based Market Gravity and award winning creative agency Heat. Meanwhile, Accenture recently obtained the award-winning teams of Rothco and Mackevision for their own capabilities.

Kantar mergers four advisory business units to launch Kantar Consulting

In the latest twist in the struggle between marketing and consulting firms for supremacy, however, it is the advertising world who have parked tanks on the lawn of their new rivals. As consulting firms continue to move aggressively into ad agencies’ territory, WPP has launched its own consulting arm via Kantar, its data and investment division. Kantar is a combination of four existing WPP brands – Kantar Added Value, Kantar Futures, Kantar Vermeer and Kantar Retail – with the consolidated practice now coming under the single entity of Kantar Consulting.

The firm has already begun unified life with fighting talk from its Executive team. Discussing future growth opportunities, Phil Smiley, Kantar Consulting’s CEO, commented, “We live in a new era of consumption. Growth can no longer be assumed, yet there are more, not fewer, opportunities to build breakout brands and new lines of business. Future growth exists, but beyond the comfort zone of most organisations; it is more granular, less siloed and more opportunistic.”

Meanwhile, Beth Ann Kaminkow, another Kantar Global Executive, reportedly told members of the press that they could name any company and Kantar Consulting would likely already be servicing them in some capacity. These included major examples such as Amazon, Walmart, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble, as well as, intriguingly, Accenture and Deloitte themselves.

“We’re looking at new ways to work with them all,” Kaminkow said. “Our clients like to work with us because we operate with agility. We are a partner to our clients, keeping their best interests in mind.”

Kantar Consulting hits the market already boasting more than 1,000 analysts, thought leaders, software developers and consultants. Tapping into a wealth of knowledge across business categories, backed by assets like PoweRanking, Retail IQ, RichMix, XTEL, VR Infinity, GrowthFinder, Global Monitor and the Marketing, Insights and Purpose 2020 series.

The consultancy hopes to provide companies with the tools and knowledge needed for sustainable success, rather than presenting clients with a “crutch,” something which, according to Kaminkow, other consulting firms tend to do. This suggestion further resonates with the recent prediction of an RGP report, which suggested that ‘practical consulting’ – which leverages in-depth expertise, and focuses on knowledge sharing to help give customers long-term wins – could be the next major trend in the consulting industry. This might well present Kantar Consulting with a golden opportunity, if it can indeed deliver on these fronts.

Kaminkow also explained that Kantar aimed to exist in symbiosis with clients, rather than being a one-way-street – another major feature of ‘practical consulting’ – stating, “There’s a level of transparency in our relationships with clients that’s important. We address the toughest questions… We help them be more capable companies.”