Kantar retires its brands to operate under single name

01 May 2019 Consultancy.uk

Professional services firm Kantar has announced it will retire the names of its various brands, consolidating all its services and offerings into a single unified brand name. The news will see the Kantar Consulting identity among those retired, as owner WPP looks to repackage the company for a majority sale in 2019.

Part of global advertising giant WPP, Kantar is one of the world’s largest market research data, insight and marketing consultancy companies. The professional services firm employs around 30,000 employees and serves clients in over 100 countries.

In January 2016, the company looked to harmonise its brand, as it sought to highlight the firm’s operating units could collaborate closely to offer a holistic service to clients. This saw the initial creation of twelve Kantar brands: Kantar Graphic, Kantar Added Value, Kantar Futures, Kantar Health, Kantar IMRB, Kantar Media, Kantar Millward Brown, Kantar Retail, Kantar TNS, Kantar Vermeer, Kantar Worldpanel and Lightspeed.

Kantar retires its brands to operate under single name

Two years later, Kantar further reshuffled its organisation, with the combination of those four existing brands – Kantar Added Value, Kantar Futures, Kantar Vermeer and Kantar Retail – to build a single consolidated practice under the name of Kantar Consulting. While the move was seen at the time as a move by WPP to park tanks on the lawn of a consulting industry – which is itself encroaching ever further on the advertising sector – it quickly proved to be a prelude to yet more change for the firm.

Kantar Consulting even made acquisitions in early 2018, but less than 10 months later the board of WPP – rocked by a share price crash and a scandal that saw the departure of long-term CEO Martin Sorrel – approved plans to sell Kantar, as the advertising company looked to steady itself. As Kantar’s owner is now understood to be hoping to conclude a majority stock sale by the second half of 2019, a further brand realignment has been confirmed, with all Kantar’s brands, including Kantar Consulting, subsequently retired. It remains unclear whether dispensing with the brands will mean any job cuts for existing Kantar staff.

Commenting on the news, Kantar’s Global CEO Eric Salama said the move reflected “the operational changes already happening across the company, and is driven by a desire to achieve simplicity, scale and impact for clients.” He added that ultimately the decision makes the firm simpler to understand and work with, particularly from a client perspective – though experts will also suggest the unification also makes the company’s acquisition more streamlined.

Sorrel state of affairs

Interestingly, one of Kantar’s potential suitors is reportedly none other than Martin Sorrel. The disgraced business magnate was forced from WPP following allegations of bullying and sexism, as well as claims of financial misconduct relating to his expenses. He has since bounced back on the advertising scene with his newest venture, S4 Capital. The company’s acquisition of MediaMonks, followed shortly by MightyHive signaled Sorrell’s intent, and he has suggested to industry news portal The Drum that he would be interested in buying “parts of [Kantar]… but not the whole.”

Kantar’s consolidation suggests it is highly unlikely WPP would chop up the research firm’s portfolio for buyers. However, while Sorrel’s new company still seeks to lay “hands on sources of first-party data”, making it more attractive to clients in a world where ad budgets are increasingly funnelled into ‘walled gardens’, Kantar’s assets in this respect have been valued in the region of $3.5 billion – making them an extremely lucrative proposition.


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