Emily Tan
Aug 6, 2014

Ogilvy’s Discovery unit spun out to launch Futures Company in Shanghai

SHANGHAI - WPP-owned The Futures Company has launched its first China office in Shanghai, staffed by three members of what was once Ogilvy China’s insights and trends unit, Discovery.

Kunal Sinha
Kunal Sinha

Led by Kunal Sinha, who was formerly Ogilvy & Mather’s chief knowledge officer for China and cultural insights director for Asia-Pacific, the office opens with a team of four. Sinha will also take up the role of chairman, Asia-Pacific and work closely with Singapore-based Stephane Alpern, managing director for Asia-Pacific.

While the company, which claims to be a strategic insight and planning consultancy, had previously been working with clients in China out of its Singapore and global offices, the company saw a need to launch on-the-ground operations, said Sinha. For reasons of confidentiality, he could not name the clients the firm is working with. 

“Most of our client base will fall into two categories: clients who are interested in solutions for China, and clients who are doing multimarket studies or planning global strategy for whom China is a very important part of the business,” said Sinha.

The timing of the launch, he added, is appropriate as most companies are struggling for growth in China’s more competitive business and consumer environment.

The Futures Company’s offering doesn’t overlap with parent company Kantar, as The Futures Company focuses on business strategy rather than consumer insight. “Most of the Kantar companies build their business around consumer segmentation cracking." Sinha said. "We take those things into account, but we’re not in a strict sense a primary research company.”

While more like a consultancy than a research firm, the new outfit does differ from traditional business consultancies, Sinha insisted. “Part of this difference is our focus, which includes human and cultural insights," he said. "The McKinseys and BCGs…most of their solutions are based on large-scale quantitative studies of organisations and behaviours. Ours is a more human-culture and people-centric approach.”

Furthermore, unlike management consultants, the new firm will not be siloed into domains of expertise. “We are able to draw from examples in other industries and find learning,” he said.

When pressed to disclose the company’s research methods, Sinha pointed to The Futures Company’s website which claims a “robust, proven methodology”. The firm also runs proprietary global research, which includes Global Monitor, a subscription providing reports and consumer trends insights, formerly run by TNS.  

“There is a real demand in Asia and in China for these services,” said Sinha. 

 

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