Report by Eric Salama

Chairman and chief executive officer

Earlier this year I found myself in a room with colleagues from Kantar and WPP, judging work on a hypothetical brief that had been given to 60 students from the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. The students were high-potential civil servants working in a variety of government departments from over 40 countries from around the world. As part of their course they had been working with us for a few days to understand the role of insight and research in developing social policy and the way that those insights get translated into creative work which changes behaviour and the ways in which that work can be evaluated. Happily nine of those students will join a WPP company for a further internship later in the year.

Josep Montserrat (CEO Kantar Worldpanel),  Will Galgey (CEO The Futures Company),  Bart Michels (CEO Added Value), Andy Brown (CEO Kantar Media) and Travyn Rhall (CEO Millward Brown)

Left to right:
Eric Salama , CEO Kantar, Phil Smiley , CEO EMEA and ASPAC Kantar Retail, Thomas Puliyel , CEO IMRB, Joel Benenson , CEO Benenson Strategy Group

Reflecting on that experience and the discussion around corporate social responsibility I was struck by how much and how often we use our research and insight skills to drive social policy. Some companies, including our own, have extensive charitable giving and pro bono programs, but we are lucky that we can put our skills to work for the benefit of society in an even more extensive way and be paid for it!

In the past year alone, newly-acquired Benenson Strategy Group has worked on a host of climate change projects and political campaigns. Kantar Media has been delivering daily media intelligence to the EU and a host of government bodies across Europe. Kantar Health presented papers at ISPOR on assessing the burden on care givers for patients with lung cancer and on chronic pulmonary disease in Russia. TNS continued to be the EU’s primary partner for understanding citizens’ views on a range of subjects through the Eurobarometer work. It is also working with the German Federal Government and other EU bodies in monitoring and supporting the development of lifelong education programs, with the Lagos State Government to track citizen satisfaction with government services and in the UK on a range of government programs such as the British Crime Survey and the seminal Understanding Society. IMRB is working with the Gates Foundation on message research and testing for its water sanitation and hygiene work in India and with the World Bank on evaluating technical assistance projects. The Futures Company worked with Mind Trust to improve the transition of servicemen and women to civilian life and had the report debated in the House of Lords.

It is not just that political and social work accounts for a substantial percentage of our revenue and is an opportunity for our people to work on these kind of projects, but that increasingly there is overlap between our corporate and government work – in areas such as behaviour change and how best to drive it. It is no coincidence that we have been working with a socially-responsible client such as Unilever in its Millennium Villages project in Ethiopia and Kenya to help change washing behaviour, or in the UK to help understand how families are tackling issues around sustainability.

The work we do for social-related projects benefits from the way we run the business and our focus on thought leadership.

Our deep-seated commitment to innovation and creativity helps all of our clients – corporate and societal alike

Added Value, IMRB and TNS won Research Agency of the Year in Hong Kong, India and the UK respectively, Kantar Worldpanel was voted as one of the best places to work in markets as diverse as the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Mexico and Millward Brown received similar accolades in Mexico and Australia. This is a testament to our management teams in those countries and helps us get the best people in the industry working on our clients’ business. We published many path-breaking studies including: the Millward Brown BrandZ studies globally and in markets such as China and India; the Kantar Worldpanel study on which brands are most bought around the world; the Added Value study on cultural traction; and the Kantar Retail studies on how manufacturers and retailers perceive each other in markets such as the US and China and the strength of digital brands in retail. All these enhance our understanding of attitudes and behaviour in a corporate context but also help in developing a better understanding of purchase decisions in the context of social issues such as health, obesity and sustainability. We are showcasing the best of all this work to great effect via our recently-launched insights sites from which journalists and commentators are encouraged to re-use our data.

Lynnette Cooke (CEO Kantar Health), David Day (CEO Lightspeed Research), Richard Ingleton (CEO TNS) and Steve Pattinson (CEO Americas Kantar Retail)

Left to right:
Lynnette Cooke , CEO Kantar Health, David Day , CEO Lightspeed Research, Richard Ingleton , CEO TNS, Steve Pattinson , CEO Americas Kantar Retail

Equally, our deep-seated commitment to innovation and creativity helps all of our clients – corporate and societal alike – and 2013 was a terrific year in developing and rolling out impactful innovations. Millward Brown has pioneered the widespread use of facial coding in understanding emotional responses to communication and advertising. Our growing use of mobiles and tablets to collect data enables us to work more effectively and efficiently in developing markets and rural situations. Our growing ability to combine purchase data from Kantar Worldpanel and Shopcom with media data from Kantar Media and Millward Brown enables us to understand the impact of media on consumption and enables clients to optimise media campaigns. And we have pioneered ways of taking segmentations from existing work and mapping them onto larger databases, enabling companies such as GroupM and Wunderman to plan media and CRM campaigns in innovative ways. All our companies have automated some of their solutions to enable a wider range of clients to self-service cost-effectively and make use of our IP while we continue to shorten and automate our questionnaires to enable clients to engage better with consumers and benefit from norms which we have built up around the world.

Our growing use of mobiles and tablets to collect data enables us to work more effectively and efficiently in developing markets and rural situations

Our partnerships with companies such as Twitter and the social media capabilities that are represented by CIC, Fisheye and Visible Technologies enable clients to understand how their brands are being talked about in real-time, while enhancing our ability to help clients predict consumer behaviour better and with shorter turnaround times.

We continue to put increasing emphasis on how we deliver our work, not just what we deliver. The partnerships and emphasis on data visualisation have continued apace (e.g. www.informationisbeautifulawards.com) and enable us and our immediate clients to have greater impact in the organisations in which they work and to spur their colleagues to more action.

The lines between corporate and societal work are becoming increasingly blurred. Our ability to do each well enhances the other; our innovation agenda benefits both.

As one of our Futures Company directors, Andrew Curry, said in his award-winning Admap paper which was published in June 2013: “The concept of businesses purely chasing shareholder value is a relatively recent and flawed one. Those that have a social purpose stand out more, engender loyalty and focus on the long-term health of the business.” Our people should feel proud of the uses to which their skills are put and we feel proud of them.

Eric Salama (CEO Kantar), Phil Smiley(CEO EMEA and ASPAC Kantar Retail), Thomas Puliyel (CEO IMRB) and Joel Benenson(CEO Benenson Strategy Group)

Left to right:
Josep Montserrat , CEO Kantar Worldpanel, Will Galgey , CEO The Futures Company, Bart Michels , CEO Added Value, Andy Brown , CEO Kantar Media, Travyn Rhall , CEO Millward Brown

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