WPP's Kantar merges four brands into one consultancy

WPP-owned research and insight specialist Kantar is combining four of its brands to form a consultancy that will set out to redefine how marketing and sales work together.

Phil Smiley will head up Kantar Consulting
Phil Smiley will head up Kantar Consulting

Kantar Consulting is being formed from the merger of Kantar Added Value, Kantar Futures, Kantar Vermeer and Kantar Retail.

The creation of the consulting division comes at a time when management consultants including Accenture and Deloitte are muscling their way into the marketing sector.

Kantar Consulting launches today and its clients were informed of the move under NDA last week.

Kantar Added Value, Kantar Futures, Kantar Vermeer and Kantar Retail will cease to exist as brands in favour of the Kantar Consulting masterbrand after a transition period that is dependent on the client.

Kantar Retail global CEO Phil Smiley has been made chief executive of Kantar Consulting.

Smiley said: "There will be a period of transition where we keep those brands in place, but none of the things those brands do is disappearing. Their solutions, the insights, the work they do, the talent and the people are all staying."

Smiley said the emergence of the management consultant giants within the marketing space is "certainly a factor but not the main reason" for the creation of Kantar Consulting.

He said: "The main reason for doing this is to build a stronger capability within Kantar that can serve clients and 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. And in this world where growth is harder to find. Joining the dots between marketing and sales will be one of the keys to unlocking growth and it is part of our mission in life to redefine how marketing and sales work together to help clients to switch on growth."

Kantar Consultancy will have over 1,000 staff ranging from analysts to thought leaders and software developers.

At launch the client base includes Unilever, Pepsi, Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, RBS, Tata and Bayer.

Kantar Consulting will draw on the skillsets of the four merged divisions. Kantar Added Value specialises in cultural understanding, brand purpose and positioning, Kantar Futures is an expert in consumer foresight and trends, Kantar Retail is a retail, ecommerce and shopper marketing specialist, while Kantar Vermeer focuses on marketing ROI.

Smiley said: "We wanted to bring together the great capabilities we have already in house into something integrated and unified that is easier for clients to access and is better positioned because of the breadth of those skills to help client solve their growth problems."

Other branches of WPP are already considering or have already launched consultancy arms, but Smiley does not believe there will be any duplication across the group.

He said: "I don’t see any duplication at this stage and we actually work very closely with the consulting arms in the other parts of the group. There is good collaboration between them and they tend to be doing different things linked to their unique disciplines so I think at the moment we actually have got a much stronger consulting capability than perhaps the market knows."

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