TRA sets up Wellington office, looks to capitalise on the government’s thirst for insights

TRA broke the champagne on its fancy new office in Britomart this year (and developer Peter Cooper called “the best fit out in the precinct”). And it’s about to do it again, this time in Wellington. 

While the amount spent on research declined significantly during the global financial crisis, TRA managing director Andrew Lewis says the business has grown at around 120 percent per year since it launched in 2007. And he says its success has come from using data analytics, design and strategy and planning with the tools of research.  

“I think that’s where the magic happens, when you bring all those bits together. And that’s a lot of what we’ve been developing over the last few years, hence the change to TRA, rather than The Research Agency.”

It works with clients like IAG, VW, Foodstuffs, Lion, Mercury and ASB and this year it added the Spark, Toyota and Te Wananga o Aotearoa research accounts to its list. It already works with Wellington-based clients such as NZ Parliament, VTNZ, New Zealand Post and NZTA, and it is hoping to get further into the bowels of government by putting some more people on the ground in the capital.  

Lewis says it hasn’t really focused on the government space so far, aside from working with agencies to develop campaigns for government clients, but considering he says around 20 cents in every dollar spent on insights comes from the government sector, he says it makes sense. 

Additionally, Lewis and his team are big proponents of harnessing behavioural economics, as are many governments, so it’s about bringing the two sides together and providing departments with the right tools. 

“It’s always been a focus of ours. We’ve been really pushing this stuff in the commercial space. But it’s a bit behind compared to the government … The government sector has always been about behaviour change. So in many ways it’s a better fit for us.”

He points to the emphasis on the tactics employed to help Barack Obama win the US election, the various ‘nudge’ units set up around the world aimed at influencing public policy and groups like the Behaviorial Exchange

Luke Procter has been appointed to lead the Wellington team, which will be housed in the Huddart Parker Building in Post Office Square. At present, it’s just him, but Lewis says he expects the team to expand quickly and he believes the office could sustain up to ten staff. 

Proctor has recently returned to his hometown after working in Auckland and London for the last ten years in insight, marketing, data and strategy roles.

Most recently he worked as insight and strategy director for Clemenger Shop, a role he had for around one year. 

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