How Beano has used insight to drive 400% YoY growth

Think Beano is all about comics and whoopy cushions? Think again. Following a recent brand relaunch, Beano is now much, much more. It’s a global digital platform for kids. And it’s the fastest growing kids’ website in the UK.

Aiming to take advantage of high brand trust in a world where parents are concerned about their kids’ safety online, Beano has positioned itself as the go-to destination for digital content for kids aged 6 – 12.  And it’s paying off. The brand has delivered 400% year on year growth.

So how has Beano achieved this? It’s put insight at the heart of its strategy – and its culture. At the MRS Kids and Youth Conference, we were lucky enough to hear about the brand’s journey first-hand from its Director of Insight, Helenor Gilmour. So what can other brands learn from Beano’s success?

1. Be brave enough to challenge the status quo

If something isn’t working for you. Don’t valiantly struggle on. Be brave enough to rethink your strategy.

Beano realised that its existing sources of insight were too slow-moving and didn’t go deep enough. So it changed tack. It knew that to succeed the insight function needed to be able to move at the same pace as the rest of the business. And it couldn’t be siloed. Everyone in the business needed to take ownership of insight for it to be a success.

One of the way it’s done this is to launch Beano Trend Spotters, a panel of 12 kids aged 7 – 12 that Beano follows over time and engages week on week through interviews over FaceTime or WhatsApp.

The Beano Trend Spotters provide a longitudinal view so the brand can understand the key life events that kids go through. But critically, the Trend Spotters help Beano keep their finger on the pulse, so they know what’s hot and what’s not with kids on a week by week basis.

2. Make sure you act up

Great insight is only half the story. To get ahead, you need to be able to act on it. And luckily, Beano values acting up.

On Monday at midday, everyone in the business gets an email packed with the latest learnings from the Beano Trend Spotters network. Getting killer insights in front of teams in this way allows them to jump on trends – fast. It’s this mechanism that’s allowing Beano to get a jump start on the competition. When Fortnite blew up, Beano knew about it. Having heard about the gaming phenomenon from its Trend Spotters, the brand could develop Fortnite-related content in a matter of weeks, and well before its core competitors.

Agile insight something that many brands strive for, but by developing the processes to make it a reality, Beano has established a real source of competitive advantage.

3. If you’ve got it, work it

Not only has Beano developed a killer insight strategy. But it’s also put its own assets to work to help it get closer to its customers. The brand has developed Spot Qs, random polls delivered to the Beano.com audience to help it learn more about the kids that visit its site. And it uses its Schools Programme as a way to get staff face-to-face with its customers.

By looking for every opportunity to get closer to its key demographic, Beano is creating a customer-centric culture within the business that’s delivering real value for the brand.

4. Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Sure, strategy is important. But if the culture of the business doesn’t support the direction of travel, you’ll soon find yourself at a standstill.

One of the core things that struck me about Beano is that it has made insight is a core part of its culture. The CEO is committed to creating an organisation that’s hungry for information. So much so that it’s encapsulated this in its mission: Think More Kid.

These are just three simple words but they have the power to reshape thinking across the organisation. Think More Kid underlines the importance of getting under the skin of what it means to be a young person today. But most importantly, it encourages an insight-driven approach to all future decisions, helping employees really get into the mindset of the audience they’re serving so they can creating content, products and services that really meet their needs.