FEATURE26 March 2019

Q&A with Mandy Pooler, CMO, Kantar

Features UK

Earlier this month, Kantar brought its multiple businesses under one single brand name. As parent company WPP seeks a buyer for the business, Research Live caught up with chief marketing officer Mandy Pooler to find out more about the move.

What was the thinking behind moving all of the brands under the single Kantar name?

The announcement simply reflects the changes that are already happening across Kantar, driven by a desire to achieve simplicity, scale and impact for our company and our clients. It will make our business easier to understand and simplify how we build platforms and offers globally to match the needs of our clients.

How will the business be structured from now on?

We’ve already simplified elements of our business in recent years, launching Kantar Consulting as a growth consultancy and developing the Kantar Analytics Practice as a world leader in big data and AI.

Would this move have been made had the business not been looking for a ‘strategic partner'?

Irrespective of our future ownership structure, we have a clear strategy for growth based on delivering increased customer impact. The simplification of our branding was part of that strategy.

Is this in line with WPP’s wider moves to consolidate other agencies?

The announcement is part of Kantar’s own ‘business as usual’ strategy for increasing client impact. The move is a natural step for us to take and we have been on this journey for some time. If you recall, ten years ago we operated 22 brands, we reduced it to 12 in 2016 and nine in 2018.

Were you concerned that you are getting rid of brands with years of market research heritage behind them – TNS and Millward Brown?

Their heritage was very much about delivering great value. Over the past years Kantar picked up that mantle. All of our brands have been part of the Kantar family for a long period of time, and the reality is many of our customers associate the services they receive from different brands as one: Kantar.

Will the individual chief execs and leadership teams of each brand remain the same?

This move is very much a branding one and our leadership will stay the same.

How has Kantar managed internal expectations when there have been different identities/rivalries between the different businesses?

We are one organisation, and our different divisions have worked together for years. Increasingly the most important offers our clients use tap in to expertise from across the company, and the simplified brand strategy reflects that reality.

What steps have you taken to make sure staff are on board with this?

As with any strategy decisions, we discussed widely internally and with clients. There was a huge appetite internally and externally for this change, with many clients and employees saying ‘why did you wait so long?’

Have there been or will there be any office moves as a result?

There aren’t any office changes associated with the branding decision. 

Did you speak to clients beforehand to discuss the changes?

Client feedback is at the centre of this change. Clients have been asking us to make ourselves easier to understand and be easier to partner with. The unification of our brands is an important signal that we are serious about bringing the best of Kantar to clients and in increasing the impact we have in solving the biggest customer questions.

What are Kantar’s priorities for the short and long-term?

At the moment, our priority is to highlight the value the entire Kantar business brings to clients and making sure that value is as accessible as possible. We recently for example launched Kantar Marketplace; a new global on-demand research and insights store, and our new Brand Guidance Systems to intelligently integrate our validated survey measures within other elements of campaign performance. Following the launch of Kantar Analytics Practice mid-last year, we’ve become more focused on illustrating to our clients the capabilities we have in big data and AI, and the impact that can have on their marketing strategy and campaign execution.