Kantar Group

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Kantar is the umbrella name for an extensive worldwide network of specialist information, research and consultancy agencies owned until 2019 by marketing giant WPP. 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. In early 2019, the group said all its various operating units would be consolidated under the single Kantar name. 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 2018, WPP declared combined revenues from what it calls data investment management of £2.58bn, down 4.5% reported on the year before. 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. A deal was agreed in summer 2019 with private equity firm Bain, which acquired 60% of Kantar at a valuation of $4bn. The sale was completed in Dec 2019. Eric Salama is the group's long-standing CEO, first appointed to that role in 2002. However he stepped down in early 2020. A new CEO has yet to be appointed, but former ITV and Saatchi & Saatchi leader Adam Crozier was named as chairman.

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 $6.6bn in 2017), Kantar Group ($4.0bn), IQVIA ($3.5bn), Ipsos ($2.0bn), GfK ($1.7bn), IRI ($1.1bn), Westat ($558m), Dunnhumby ($458m), Wood Mackenzie ($445m) and comScore ($404m)

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Historical profile information for Kantar

Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 12th Jul 2019: As had been expected for several days, WPP agreed to sell a 60% stake in Kantar to Bain Capital for around $3.1bn in net cash. Around $2bn of that sum will be used to pay down debt; the rest will be distributed to shareholders. WPP will continue to hold the remaining 40%. The deal is subject to approval from WPP shareholders and from regulators in several countries in which Kantar operates. In Australia, where WPP's interests are represented by separately quoted WPP AUNZ, 100% of the local Kantar division is being divested.

Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Jul 2019: A day after confirming the sale of its Chime stake, WPP announced it has entered exclusive negotiations to sell a majority shareholding in its wholly-owned research arm Kantar to private equity fund Bain Capital. Bain is also the firm to whom WPP relinquished its stake in Japanese group ADK at the end of 2017. The talks with Bain value Kantar at around $4bn; WPP is thought to be negotiating for the sale of between 60% and 75% of the business. A decision is expected before the end of the week.

Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jun 2019: Amazon was named King of the Castle for the first time in the latest annual Brandz ranking of the World's Most Valuable Brands from WPP's Kantar. A 52% increase lifted the etailer's estimated valuation to $316bn, pushing past three-year champion Google and 2015 leader Apple, who took 3rd and 2nd place respectively. Microsoft held steady at #4 while Visa replaced Tencent in 5th place. The only new entry among the top 50 was Chanel, straight in at #31. Biggest risers were Instagram, Lululemon and Netflix.

Adbrands Daily Update 18th Mar 2019: With talks still underway with potential buyers or partner investors for Kantar, WPP announced plans to consolidate all the company's different offerings under the single company brand, eliminating all remaining sub-brands like Kantar Millward Brown, Kantar Worldpanel or Kantar Consulting. From April, all operations will trade as just Kantar.

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."

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