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3 Principles of Refinery29's Best-in-Class Insight Program

Written by Alida

Published July 02, 2019

With a global audience in excess of 249 million, Refinery29 is largely regarded as the preeminent authority on young women. A business that started as a creative-focused city guide now influences everything from Sunday brunch to big business. Their most recent foray into the world of personal finances has earned them a reputation as “one to watch” in the financial industry as insurance companies, banks, and fin-tech services vie for the attention of their multi-billion dollar audience and drive ad-sales revenue through the roof.

Their most recent initiative is a paint-by-numbers portrayal of what it takes to create a best-in-class insights team capable of boosting revenue and building consumer awareness at the same time.

As part of this initiative, R29 Intelligence tapped into their Mad Chatter insight community to explore the emotional drivers of financial decision making. While it is widely accepted that the management of personal finances can spark a range of emotions, little research had been done to explore just how those emotions influence financial planning, and how those emotions differ between men and women.

Working with the marketing solutions team, the R29 Intelligence team used findings from the studies to show how their programs could deliver against the brand specific objectives of potential partners and provide additional value to existing partners. Insights from Mad Chatter fueled the creation of industry-specific collateral that was used in a series of client events, agency road shows, and brand workshops that proved the effectiveness of Refinery29’s platform and provided the foundation for in-depth consultation and exploration into the value of connecting with young women.

The success of this program reflects the wider success of the team and their ever widening mandate to guide the business with audience-validated insight. Brooke Hinton, Associate Director of Research and Insights at Refinery29 credits their evolution to three foundational principles. Not surprisingly those start with the consumer.

Maintain ongoing engagement with the audience

To maintain benchmark participation rates in Mad Chatter, the team always considers the perspective of the member. They set expectations for the frequency and length of activities early and often and emphasize the consent-based nature of participating.

Share accountability for stakeholder engagement

A process that starts with establishing objectives and purpose for engaging the audience and how the insight will be applied. From there, it is important to ensure the insight is customized for the stakeholder, presented in a form that is actionable, and stored in a central location that is easy to access by anybody in the business.

Balance the art and science of customer insights

Budgeting and resourcing the people process and technology of a world-class customer insight program is a somewhat scientific endeavor. However, bringing that program to life requires a little bit of magic. It is important to think laterally about problems and approach the solution holistically. Programming and analyzing effective activities requires a pragmatic mindset tempered with the ability to author engaging, conversational studies.

Through the adoption of scalable reliable technology, a willingness to remain agile, and a clear mandate to support the mission of the business, the Refinery29 Intelligence team has redefined the value of agile, ongoing insight. Specifically, insight derived from consent data collected from their audience in a transparent, well managed process that scales to meet the needs of the business. The result was the creation of new partnerships in new industries followed by a wider mandate to support content direction, marketing, and strategic planning across the business. R29 Intelligence now supports both editorial and ad sales across the entire cycle of content creation, audience engagement, measurement, and partnership program development.

Learn more about Refinery29's insights program here.

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