Leading independent research and insights agency, TRA (The Research Agency), has opened its first Australian office in Melbourne, appointed Mark Hobart as Partner and announced John Shanahan and Rob McLachlan as members of its Australian Advisory Board.
TRA has capabilities in research, strategy, behavioural science, cultural analysis, data and analytics, design and new ventures development. Founded in New Zealand in 2007 by Andrew Lewis and Amber Coulter, TRA’s expansion is in response to its growing roster of iconic, cross-category Australian and Trans-Tasman brands who want access to the agency’s innovative and multi-disciplinary approaches.
Andrew Lewis, TRA’s Managing Director said: "TRA is excited to bring our proposition and capabilities to Australia. Our client base is strong, and the unique offering of a boutique client experience backed by a large-scale insights provider positions us well in Australia. Our fresh approach to the research category is the perfect fit for Australia. And, because our Australian operation will be backed by the frameworks, tools, IP and capabilities of the New Zealand team, I am confident the combined strengths will build something truly different in this market," he said.
Mark Hobart has been appointed as TRA Partner in Melbourne following a 20-year career in senior insights, brand, and innovation roles. He has experience solving some of the big challenges for clients, both in Australia and Europe and across a broad range of sectors.
Before TRA, Mark was Strategy Director at The Lab, where he successfully led several high-profile strategy projects for leading Australian brands. In 2021, Mark co-authored a paper “Beauty & The Beast: Kmart and the beauty category” that won two awards at The Research Society’s Human Insights Conference: People’s Choice Award, and Most Engaging Production.
He has worked with some of the world’s most recognisable technology, services and FMCG brands including Vodafone, Mastercard, Mars, L’Oreal, Shell, KraftHeinz, Fonterra, Skype, Orange, Samsung, Coca-Cola, and Kimberly-Clark.
To support its Australian expansion, Rob McLachlan and John Shanahan will join TRA co-founders, Amber Coulter and Andrew Lewis, on the Australian Advisory Board. McLachlan brings decades of experience in research from Kantar, WPP AUNZ’s research businesses, where he managed 60 creative, research and digital businesses, as well as AC Nielsen. Shanahan has more than 50 years' of international market research experience with Colmar Brunton, Nielsen and is the current owner of The Advantage Group.
TRA’s Partner in Australia, Mark Hobart, said: "Joining TRA was an easy decision to make. I have the opportunity to be part of a start-up, build a team, create something terrific and grow with it. And the best part of this opportunity is that I can bring the incredible capabilities and resources from the broader TRA team to our clients here in Australia. I am inspired by the comprehensiveness of TRA’s view of people. The company’s desire to put people at the centre of a client’s decision-making blends perfectly with my own ethos that truly impactful insight and strategy only comes from getting under the surface of what people do and say to understand the real influences and motivations that drive human behaviour," he said.
Commenting on Hobart’s appointment, Lewis said: "Mark’s deep local knowledge and hands-on experience, inquisitive mind and passion for using insight to solve complex business challenges for clients, immediately singled him out for the role. In Mark, I believe we have found the perfect person to bring insights to life and influence the way our clients make decisions for the benefits of their customers. We’re excited to have him at the helm of this key market and as a member of the TRA leadership team," he said.
In 2021, TRA Group has recruited over 25 new employees. This recruitment campaign will continue in Australia as TRA builds its world-class capability.