Kantar targets acquisition drive with Bain Capital backing

20 August 2019 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read

Following its purchase by Bain Capital, Kantar is planning to grow its automated capabilities with a campaign of acquisitions. The firm’s CEO revealed to the press that it is due to focus on strengthening its “real-time and predictive offers and much faster turnaround.”

In July, advertising giant WPP confirmed the sale of a 60% majority stake in its Kantar business to Bain Capital. Kantar, valued at over £3 billion, contained WPP’s health, media and consulting practices and was put up for sale at the turn of the year. Bain Capital, the US private equity company founded by the same man as consulting firm Bain & Company, took up a majority stake in Kantar with an offer expected to yield $3.1 billion (£2.47 billion) to WPP.

At the time, Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said of the news, “Kantar is a great business and we look forward to working with Bain Capital to unlock its full potential. As a strategic partner and shareholder in Kantar, WPP will continue to benefit from its future growth while our clients continue to benefit from its services and capabilities.”

Kantar targets acquisition drive with Bain Capital backing

What has emerged since is that as WPP struggled with the dramatic shrinkage of its market share, faced with competition from new players in the online and consulting spaces. Kantar subsequently had little room under WPP to acquire companies and solutions to modernise its traditional market research business. In a press call in August, Kantar CEO Eric Salama confirmed that the firm had been “out of the market for three or four years.” That is about to change, however.

According to Salama, Kantar is set to update its strategy under its new owner Bain Capital. While he did not name names on the matter, Salama confirmed the firm was set to ramp up its acquisitions “in a way that we haven’t been able to over the past couple of years,” in order to enhance what Kantar does for clients more rapidly. Kantar, which provides TV ratings and market research data to brands across the world, is therefore set to invest heavily in automation and real-time analytics in the coming era.

Kantar has rolled out more than 40 machine learning and AI products to help do things like predict panel fraud and classify social media investment, but it has plans to double down on automation to power all of its products in the future. This will require investment in broadening its talent pool to hire more specialists, consultants and engineers to work with clients using these products. Salama confirmed that Kantar will put an emphasis on “real-time and predictive offers and much faster turnaround,” while in order to deliver this, the firm’s overall workforce will need to both grow and adapt to focus on new skills.

“Having a partner like Bain from a capability and money point of view will be helpful,” Salama explained. “Bain saw an industry full of potential. They also saw an industry that really needs to transform itself. We all see clients wanting to do be data-driven, or insight-driven marketing companies.”