Vishal Pandey on Glasgow Consulting Group’s growing reputation

01 December 2021 4 min. read

Smaller research consulting brands can struggle to win business when up against the largest global brands – making it essential to offer a unique set of services. Glasgow Consulting Group founder Vishal Pandey spoke to ConsultancyME about how the company’s innovative and independent offering has been able to attract 750+ projects since its launch.

Founded in 2010, Glasgow Consulting Group (GCG) is a leading business research and strategic advisory services firm. The company’s main focuses are in market intelligence, market entry and trade development, for which GCG offers services from offices and affiliates in Dubai, Riyadh and Harare and a Knowledge Center in Gurugram.

Delivering customised research-led solutions across key industries in Middle East & Africa region and global emerging markets, GCG has successfully delivered hundreds of projects, helping customers across multiple industries develop actionable insights, establish feasibility and enter new markets.

Vishal Pandey, Founder, Glasgow Consulting Group

According to Managing Director Vishal Pandey, at the heart of the firm’s success over the last dozen or so years has been the ability to anticipate competitors’ moves, and analyse markets to win contracts in the MENA region. GCG clients now include Global Fortune 500 companies, regional conglomerates and entrepreneurial ventures.

“We are the region’s most uniquely placed research consultancy,” Pandey explained. “We are probably the only one in our region which combines research, marketing consulting and trade development. Each of this constitutes around one third of our work. We have worked with over 750 client projects, helping them address problems and make the most of opportunities.”

Independent research and analysis

This is the working vision on which GCG was originally founded. Following an early career in hotel management which moved into advisory work, Pandey enrolled in the University of Glasgow, where he achieved a Master of Science qualification in Business and Real Estate. This led to an offer from Deloitte Consulting in Dubai – a strategy and operations-related consulting job role focusing on tourism, hospitality, and real estate.

The role not only gave him the opportunity to hone his skills as a consultant in the Middle East, but also highlighted areas of opportunity in the region’s market. In 2010, Vishal had observed that the Middle East’s consulting scene lacked credible data and independent analysis which clients could actually rely on to improve; rather than just telling them what they wanted to hear.

Spotting this gap in the market gap, he launched Glasgow Consulting Group – named after the place he acquired so much of his business expertise. The unique platform he initially built meant he quickly attracted a blue-chip clientele – and he noted that, GCG’s “biggest pride comes from helping international companies to be successful in emerging markets.”

In order to do that, however, it is not enough for a firm like GCG to just assess where a client should price and position a product or service in a highly ambitious market. Due to the price-conscious buyers and competitive margins across sectors, it is also important for GCG to be aligned with the need of clients to constantly innovate.

According to Pandey, “every client engagement we initiate reinforces our message of innovation and growth, and how a product needs to stand out in order to win.”

When asked for an example of how GCG has helped a firm in this way, Pandey noted, “For recent major client in Saudi Arabia, our team helped a mall developer arrive at the optimal Gross Leasable Area, and ascertain the positioning of the mall. We did extensive consumer research, trade area analysis, key competitor malls assessment and finally derived the expected sales the mall will capture in the year of commencement by undertaking Huffs Gravity modelling exercise.”

Innovative advice

Showing how GCG’s advice can further help a brand find opportunities in a new market, Pandey also pointed to work done with Al Mandoos. Based in the United Arab Emirates, the footwear brand was once a local sandal producer aspiring to break into the lucrative footwear market of Saudi Arabia. When GCG was asked to help, the firm initially examined the target market through in-depth research – but in the end, a small, common-sense piece of advice proved just as important.

While speaking to the CEO of a retail mall in Saudi Arabia, Pandey observed that Saudis typically wear office shoes, instead of sandals, during business hours. Unlike Emiratis, who wear sandals throughout the day, this meant Saudi consumers would be more amenable to a brand which could offer both kinds of footwear – so when entering the market, GCG advised Al Mandoos to pivot to offer a unique Saudi-focused product offering of bother sandals and shoes in its new Riyadh and Jeddah locales.

In the years since, Al Mandoos proved a great success in Saudi Arabia, and is now an international footwear provider.

For firms still battling the aftereffects of the pandemic, advice like this can help GCG’s clients to pivot their product and business model offering, to thrive in an altered market space. This differentiated service remains key to the firm’s future successes. “A company like Ipsos or McKinsey has their clients invested from the word go,” Pandey said. “But when you are a small player swimming in the same pool, you need to stand out in terms of your value offering.”