Anthony Ahiabuike: Reflecting on market research from the sidelines

In this episode of Now that’s significant, a Market Research Podcast, host Horst Feldhaeuser, Group Services Director at Infotools, is joined by Anthony Ahiabuike. Up until September last year, Anthony was the Director Strategy & Planning: Consumer & Market Insights at Reynolds, and is now retired after 32 years working client side in the market research and insights industry.

Anthony is also an accomplished guitarist and music lover - something we have in common. The love for music that is, not the guitar skills. 

We hope you enjoy the transcript or the audio below.

So, Anthony, what’s the most significant thing you will tell us today?

First, thank you so much for having me. I am humbled and delighted to be here. The most significant thing I know today is that life is beautiful, life is collaborative, the decisions we make and the actions we take makes it so. We are all like a river connected to each other, so let’s create fertile grounds of hope, kindness, and lead with love always.

Q1: After such an illustrious career, what would you say were the highlights or biggest changes you’ve experienced? Those that changed what you’ve been doing the most and had the biggest impact to you and your work.

Speed. Speed. Speed. Speed of Technology Advancement, Speed of Human Interaction and Noise.

Q2: What are the biggest learnings that you can share and pass on to anyone currently working in or wanting to join market research and insights?

Market Research and insights is a University of evolving rich and rewarding field to be in. It is important to understand one-self as consumers to make sense of others. Don’t treat consumers like they are from Mars. Avoid Agenda-Driven Bias if you can. Are we looking for answers from consumers to justify an agenda or understanding of their needs and wants?

Q3: In one of our meetings, you talked about the need for your external partners to embrace your business and industry. What do you mean by that? Can you elaborate on it a bit more, given that you’ve worked in a somewhat sensitive industry for many years?

Great Memory. It is more about being curious, showing interest and becoming engaged and less of embracing the business or industry. Imagine interviewing an applicant for a job who is not interested. A Partner must shows interest in the business or Industry of their client to be successful. Additionally, select team members that are interested in supporting the client’s business. It can still be a transactional relationship. Bottom line, if an organization is not comfortable with the business of a client, the wise decision is don’t partner with that client. 

Q4: What other tips can you give us to work successfully with client teams and their internal stakeholders?

In my experience I have often observed that the Sales Team and Client Service teams that actually end up doing the work are not aligned. Sales Team often over sell and this causes avoidable disruption down the road. Sales Team moves on to the next gig to capture - just a type of Pontius Pilate Approach - over sell and run.

Understand that in some or most organizations, the Research Team are perceived as cost centers and value delivered is often questioned. Help them to help you retain the contract. Have a point of difference in your deliverable that also evolve over time (avoid complacency). Find ways to have a voice on the clients table no matter how small. Ties back to showing interest and assisting in the delivery of meaningful and actionable insights.  

And how can client-side market researchers make a bigger impact within their organization?

Be Proactive. Make time to be proactive. Collaborate with Vendor/Supplier Partners. Hire the right Vendor/Supplier Partners. In my experience, there are times my stakeholders are intensely focused or asking for what they don’t need. Often I end up providing what they asked for and also what they need. I am speaking about insights.

What role has technology played over the years for you? Where do you see the biggest impact of technology to come in the next 5-10 years?

Agility. Technology has had tremendous impact on all things in our planet. Specifically for market research it presents an opportunity and disruption. It is allowing brands to gain a deeper understanding of their respective consumers. Most organizations are using the self-service model to quickly address their needs in real time. Disruption: How to peel the quality from the clutter traveling at the speed of light. AI, Generative AI, Data Fabric, Decision Intelligence, etc.

So, now that you are retired, do you miss our industry? Do you still follow it somehow?

I miss my work family environment, the collaboration and friendship. I stay in touch with folks that help make life beautiful. I enjoyed working with you Horst and I follow your adventures on LinkedIn. You are a great human being Horst and so is Aubrey.

You are too kind Anthony – thank you and right back at you.

And how do you fill your time these days? Hopefully playing lots of music? What else?

Family. Family. Family. Including our man’s best friend without disrupting their flows. I stay fit - walk my 5 miles five days a week. Read the classics, Listen to lots of music, watch criterion collection movies, and Write. I’ve not played the guitar that much and I’ve stayed away from the television news.

So, to quickly recap, today we talked about

  • The speed of technology advancement and for market research this presents an opportunity to gain deeper understanding of consumers.
  • The speed of human interactions and how this is relevant when:
    1. communicating to consumers and,
    2. and when interacting with internal and external stakeholders.
  • We also talked about the importance of being curious, showing interest and be fully engaged in your field, whether that’s as an external partner or internal stakeholder.
  • And how this helps client teams to deliver better, more meaningful and actionable insights.
  • And that we as insights professionals need to be aware that sometimes our information end users are focused on specific outputs only, while we might be able to help them to see the bigger picture and add additional value insights
  • Most importantly though we talked about how life is a collaboration of people and that we can choose to lead it with kindness, love and inclusion.

A big thanks for joining us on today’s episode, Anthony. It has been an absolute pleasure connecting with you again for our chat.

For those listening, if you’ve liked what you heard today, please subscribe to the podcast, leave a review, and feel free to share it with others who might also find it helpful. Thanks for listening to Now that’s significant.


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