Kantar is the umbrella name for an extensive worldwide network of specialist information, research and consultancy agencies owned by marketing giant WPP. Eric Salama is the group's long-standing CEO, first appointed to that role in 2002. The business was expanded dramatically by the hostile takeover in 2008 of larger rival Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS). That company was merged with WPP's existing research subsidiaries during 2009 to form the clear global leader in custom research and advertising intelligence, and #2 overall in research behind Nielsen. What were at that point almost 100 separate companies have gradually been merged and consolidated into nine operating businesses. The best known of these are adex and audience research specialist Kantar Media, shopping behaviour monitor Kantar Worldpanel, and brand intelligence researcher Kantar Millward Brown, which among other projects compiles the annual Brandz brand value ranking. Another unit, Kantar Consulting, is being positioned as a sales and marketing consultancy to rival the likes of Accenture and Deloitte. Other units offer custom market research, healthcare consulting, public policy customer experience and data collection. The group also has investment stakes in several other research agencies worldwide, including media specialist comScore. WPP is the only one of the major marketing groups to own a significant market research resource and Kantar has long been considered an uncomfortable fit by analysts, especially in light of the division's comparatively lacklustre recent performance. For 2017, WPP declared combined revenues from what it calls data investment management of just under £2.7bn (approx $4.0bn), but it has been the group's weakest performing division for several quarters. Towards the end of 2018, WPP finally announced a strategic review of the business with a view to selling part or possibly all of Kantar to a financial partner.
Capsule checked 15th October 2018
Who are the competitors of Kantar? According to the AMA Gold survey (formerly the Honomichl Report), the top 10 market research companies by worldwide revenues in 2017 were: Nielsen (research revenues of $6.57bn in 2017), Kantar Group, IQVIA ($3.46bn), Ipsos ($1.97bn), GfK ($1.65bn), IRI ($1.14bn), Westat ($558m), Dunnhumby ($458m), Wood Mackenzie ($445m) and comScore ($404m)
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Historical profile information for Kantar
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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Oct 2018: Delivering disappointing results for 3Q, WPP CEO Mark Read confirmed plans to press ahead with the long-anticipated divestment in part or whole of the struggling Kantar research division. "There is a significant opportunity to develop Kantar into the world's leading data, insights and consulting company," he said. "We believe in the potential for Kantar but given our many priorities, we need to make tough choices and we believe that the best way to unlock this potential is with a strategic or financial partner. The Board has approved a formal process to review the strategic options that will maximise share owner value. It is envisaged that WPP will remain a share owner with strategic links to ensure that the benefits to clients are realised. Preparations are underway, involving Kantar management, and unsolicited expressions of interest have been received."
Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Jan 2018: WPP is fighting back against the threat posed by Accenture, Deloitte and other consultancies with the merger of four existing units within its so-called "data investment management" division to form Kantar Consulting. Perhaps the best-known agency to be absorbed into the new entity is Added Value, which is being joined by Kantar Retail - whose leader Phil Smiley becomes CEO of the combined group - Kantar Futures and Kantar Vermeer. The four separate brands will be phased out in favour of a single Kantar Consulting banner. "The main reason for doing this," said Smiley, "is to build a stronger capability within Kantar that can serve clients. We believe that we are the leading specialist sales and marketing consultancy that has real expertise in brand and marketing and retail sales and shopper marketing. There is nothing out there that will be as specialist and can really join the dots between marketing and sales."
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Sept 2015: Shares in media researcher ComScore, in which WPP is now the biggest individual shareholder, plunged by more than a third to their lowest levels for two years. The company postponed publication of its annual report and suspended a $125m planned buyback as a result of what it described as "potential accounting matters". Its audit committee has begun an internal investigation.
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Sept 2015: Media monitors ComScore and Rentrak - both already part-owned by WPP - are to merge to create a more powerful rival to market leader Nielsen, which has faced criticism recently for its weakness in measuring TV content consumed via digital media. ComScore, which specialises in online media, is to acquire TV monitor Rentrak for around $732m. "We’re at an inflection point of how consumers consume content on TV, on mobile devices, on over-the-top devices," said ComScore CEO Serge Matta. "We need to create a currency for cross-platform at massive scale. The industry is begging, it's pleading for it." WPP will have a 16% stake in the merged business, with an option to increase to just under 20%. Combined sales of the group are around $460m.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Feb 2015: WPP expanded its research division through an equity-based alliance with online specialist ComScore. It has agreed to acquire a stake of up to 20%, and the two businesses will work together in markets outside the US to match up Kantar's TV measurement operations with ComScore's digital services. ComScore will remain entirely independent and objective, and WPP will have no presence on its board.
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