Q&A with Roger Perowne: CEO of market research firm Savanta

08 February 2021 Consultancy.uk 7 min. read
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Roger Perowne is global chief executive officer of Savanta, a market research company. In his role, Perowne leads Savanta’s 350-strong team that helps brands make better, bolder decisions. 

Tell us more about Savanta and what makes the business unique in the market research industry?

Like any good business idea, we spotted a problem and knew how to solve it. Having personally worked in this industry for 20+ years, it was clear that insight and research businesses were not keeping up with the exponential evolution of the clients. There’s more data than ever before, more access to opinion, but the typical research agency just kept plodding along, crunching data and showing graphs.

There’s still room for that of course, but I wanted a business that can do the inform part with speed and accuracy, but crucially, use that to inspire our clients to act, even if that is an unexpected or potentially leftfield decision. If we’re not making our clients a little uncomfortable with the result of our work, then we’re not doing it right.

Roger Perowne, Global CEO, Savanta

Business leaders must harness data and insight to make the best decisions they can. What makes Savanta unique is our ability to present a path forward, not just a set of options. Lofty as it sounds, we believe we are in a unique position to help change the world for the better, by better informing and inspiring decision makers to make the right call. In the era of fake news, anti-expert sentiment and high-profile polling failures we find ourselves in a paradox of endless data but little faith in the truth.

Our goal is to turn that around, cut through the data to get to the root of the problem and provide clear a direction to better results. This ethos is shared by our incredibly experienced and talent team and underpins our proprietary technology suite. The unprecedented uncertainty created by the global pandemic highlights the situation perfectly and our approach is designed precisely for this pace of change and need for mission critical decisions.

Our focus is on crafting bespoke, cutting-edge solutions based on our clients’ needs to tackle the unique challenges they’re facing today across industry sectors, with our clients including some of the world’s most recognisable brands like Deliveroo, Bloomberg, Monzo and Sainsbury’s.

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Savanta has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. To what do you owe the company’s success?

It’s certainly been a challenging year for us, as it has for most businesses, but thanks to our incredible team, Savanta’s on track to exceed £40 million in turnover in just two years of business under the Savanta brand. I’m humbled by how far we’ve come, from just five of us in 2015 to today’s global team of over 350 people driving such brilliant results.

In addition to our talented team, a key factor driving the results we’re seeing is our investment into cutting-edge technology. To deliver on our promise, it is essential that we own our tech stack to ensure we have the agility to work at speed and flexibility to adapt for bespoke projects.

It also means we provide a unique and seamless, end-to-end, integrated process which we have total control over. This becomes increasingly important for the brands that are changing the way we live, which is why our clients like Deliveroo, Bloomberg, Monzo and Sainsbury’s rely on us to guide their decision-making in a volatile environment.

Our best-in-class dashboard for brand tracking, BrandVue, is a great example of this. It’s our brand intelligence tool for strategy, marketing and insights teams across a range of consumer sectors, delivering daily customer data for brands. Through BrandVue, we track over 2,500 brands across Europe & USA, covering more than 100 metrics for each, by interviewing nearly a million respondents each year. We know our clients are increasingly time-poor and need real-time insights for real-time decision-making. That’s why BrandVue enables clients to drive insights at the click of a button, all while safeguarding data integrity. 

Tech is a key factor in our goals for growth. We’re always looking for new ways to innovate and stay ahead of our clients’ needs, which is why we’ve built our Cambridge Innovation Hub team, comprising some of the UK’s leading developers, tasked with continuously advancing our technology.

How has Savanta adapted to meet market research needs during the ongoing pandemic?

We recognised our responsibility to harness our research to provide insights into the public’s changing habits and opinions as the pandemic unfolded, helping policymakers and businesses leaders make effective decisions in a time of great uncertainty.

At the beginning of the UK’s first lockdown in March, we created our Covid-19 tracker, which surveys over 1,000 respondents daily. It’s proved to be an effective tool to keep decision-makers informed about how the UK population is responding to the Covid-19 crisis. We’ve also made the data from the Covid-19 tracker available to the public, arming everyone with data and insight they need to make informed decisions and navigate the economic turmoil brought on by the crisis.

What should businesses be thinking about in 2021 and beyond?

The pandemic is arguably the most disruptive phenomena the world has faced since World War Two, and UK businesses have been hit hard as a result. As the nation went into lockdown and non-essential businesses were forced to close in 2020, we saw consumers start to reassess where they were spending their income, and we saw the material impact of business’ relationships with their customers. Thinking ahead to the coming year, businesses need to ensure their relationships with their customers are stronger than ever.

At Savanta, we measure the strength of these relationships with Brand Love tracking. With our yearly industry Brand Love reports, we look into Britain’s most loved brands in each sector, digging into the brands building the strongest relationships with their customers.

From this research, we know that when consumers love brands, they are loyal to these brands, spending more money with them more regularly, and that’s the bottom line. Our data shows time and time again that if a consumer trusts a brand, that brand is twice as likely to be considered, however, love gets a brand further.

If a consumer loves a brand, this puts that brand in the ‘preferred’ rather than ‘considered’ category. Love is a differentiator, and it should be at the top of marketers’ agendas in 2021.

What’s next for Savanta?

We want to grow the brand love for Savanta, and our approach and attitude is proving to be the pivotal factor in achieving that. The US is now our fastest-growing market, and we’re launching a large number of offices worldwide. Our business structure and technology means we can scale at speed, and deliver the same action-orientated solutions wherever we are in the world.

We want our clients to succeed, to build their businesses, to support the global economy and hopefully make the world a better place. Savanta is here to prove that with the right approach, talent and tech, research and insight is not a nice-to-have or a necessary evil but an essential tool to solving virtually any problem we face today and in the future.