WPP agency srs-icon gets aggressive in India

By , agencyfaqs! | In
Last updated : July 23, 2003
Formed in January 2003 when icon, the third arm of Kantar, acquired a majority stake in Standard Research Systems, srs-icon brand navigation aims "to be the most preferred partner for brand management solutions."

srs-icon brand navigation, the integrated brand and research consultancy firm from the WPP group, has its priorities chalked out - "to build a strong and effective team of brand consultants and to quickly establish ourselves as the leading solutions provider to brand related issues," says CR Sridhar, CEO of the six-month old company.

Formed in January this year when icon, the third arm of Kantar (research wing of WPP that has Research International and Millward Brown apart from icon under its purview), acquired a majority stake in Standard Research Systems (SRS), promoted by Sridhar, srs-icon intends fulfilling its objectives by using the iconographic approach (developed by icon). This method takes into account "what the left and right brains process, looking at it in a holistic manner".

"At this point in time, we intend telling customers how to look at their brands using our tools spanning a range of solutions including Brand Navigator, Adplus, Brand Plus, Adtrek, Q-Check (for quality assessment), Market Map and Brand Rating."

Brand Rating in particular, points out Sridhar, is a model for valuing a brand exclusive to srs-icon and so far the parent, that is, icon, has valued 100 international brands. "Our vision is clear," says Sridhar, "to be the most preferred partner for brand management solutions by the best managed companies in the country."

What strikes srs-icon apart from conventional research agencies is this very brand-centric focus. "Market research agencies act more as data suppliers," he says, "while conventional brand consultancies outsource all their research data. From what I know, none of them have a specialised way of looking at brands. Most of them have experienced people but not exactly a quantifiable approach to understanding brands. On the other hand, we offer a single window for data collection, analysis, and different techniques to study brands in-house."

The agency's clients include Colgate, Titan, Raymond's and Reliance Infocomm, which account for a third of its business. "Our target this year is to touch Rs 5 crores," says Sridhar. Its current staff strength is 34 with offices in Mumbai and Bangalore. "We are looking at a presence in Delhi as well," he says.

Competition for icon around the world chiefly comes from group company Millward Brown - with the latter having an association with IMRB in India - and Sridhar doesn't anticipate the situation to be any different here. "By and large, we know the chinks in Millward Brown's armour," he says.

However, a look at the research scene in the country will indicate that the canvas is far wider with well-entrenched competitors. There are primarily three large research groups - VNU, which has Nielsen-ORG, WPP, which has IMRB, Research International and now srs-icon, and IPG, the former owner of NFO Worldgroup (called NFO MBL in the country) now bought over by Taylor Nelson Sofres (called TNS Mode in India).

Sridhar seems unfazed by the imminent challenge. "I expect the research business to polarise around the three groups. We are looking at hitting about Rs 50 crore in the next five years given that the research business has been growing at around 30 per cent year-on-year in the last five years." © 2003 agencyfaqs!

First Published : July 23, 2003
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