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The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has left businesses around the world counting the costs and wondering how they might recover. But some have found ways to benefit from the situation: The Youth and Children’s unit of Immediate Media, the UK’s leading media company (and part of Burda since 2017), has created an e-commerce website called 5 minute fun that sells early learning materials. In this interview, Pauline Cooke, Managing Director of the Youth and Children portfolio at Immediate Media, talks about how 5 minute fun stands out from other platforms and how it has been driving its success during the pandemic.
How did the general idea for the website 5 minute fun come up?
The idea was born from a strategy day, identifying that we needed to be less reliant on UK Newsstand, to future proof our business. We were aiming to increase direct engagement with our adult audience to promote our magazines. That’s why we decided to create a database and by using our experience of creating content for kids, we planned on getting them to sign up by providing busy grown-ups (who need to entertain, educate, distract or interact with their pre-schoolers) some really simple, fun activities that give them time to grab a cup of tea, keep them busy on a bus or learn through play.
What does the website offer and what makes it unique?
We offer fast, fun and free activity ideas to parents giving them five minutes of peace or five minutes of learning, but with the emphasis always heavily on the fun. Our activities cover many different topics and learning areas e.g. being creative, phonics, healthy eating, confidence building, rainy day activities, and recycling. We also have a shop that sits alongside the activity site selling products that fit with our 5 minute fun ethos.
How did the website become such a big success during the pandemic?
Our content lends itself to the current situation: we focused it around being ‘stuck inside’ and education. We also changed our marketing message to position us as a helper during these very tough times, both at keeping children occupied at home but also as a website with lots of educational content and products that could support at-home learning whilst the schools are shut. This educational content has been particularly popular, as well as content around mental wellbeing for children and healthy eating. We also created lots of new content around social distancing e.g. birthday parties, ideas for catching up with family digitally, how to stay healthy during this time, and socially distanced games for children. We have worked hard to build our SEO presence using search tools to listen carefully to what our audience wants and delivering it quickly.
Which measures is the brand taking to maintain its success?
We are continuing the rapport we have built with the audience and marketing our other content and products to a very engaged audience. We are also planning on creating more of the great products that people are already enjoying so much. Furthermore, we are making sure we are keeping our marketing efforts increased to reach more people.
What can other e-commerce platforms learn from 5 minute fun?
To be honest, we ourselves are learning as we go. I suppose our aim for the website and the products has always been to keep it simple, listen to our audience – grown-up and small – and stick to our ethos. The reason it seems to be working is that we are using our in-house experience of making great content and products for kids, combined with our relationships with our IP owners to repackage the skills and brands into products that are unique in the market. We started small and just tried things!