The Economist

Economist Education

Publishing Excellence Awards
Best Digital Publishing Innovation

With the success of The Economist’s subscription model and their relentless focus on the customer, an education product was a natural extension of their service. The aim with Economist Education is to bring greater value to their existing subscribers and readers and to expand their audience.

The first challenge was to ensure their product was market fit – they are not education experts, and it was imperative that all their courses were pedagogically sound. They therefore engaged with a partner, GetSmarter – a specialist in premium online courses who partners with the world’s most reputable academic institutions. Another challenge before launch was to ensure that their courses would have a point of difference compared to the competition. They have now established a fresh voice to education through bring topical and practical, having an independent, data-driven perspective and their best resource – access to the viewpoints of world leaders.

At the Economist, they have long known that their journalism has value in the classroom. Their articles show up on syllabi and their writers and editors are frequent speakers at universities. Last year, they saw an opportunity for the brand to innovate, launch a new revenue stream, and create new digital products that neatly align with their editorial values. They launched into the ed-tech space with their digital executive-education business, creating online short courses aimed at busy professionals looking for personal and career development.

These new products have six weekly modules with each module containing newly created notes by The Economist journalists plus infographics, animations, videos and case studies. Learning is enriched by forum discussions in small and large groups and by assignments that are designed to engage and challenge participants, while drawing relevance for individual situations. All teaching materials are preloaded onto a learning management system with a head tutor and tutor team available throughout the course to join in discussions.

The team have created and launched three courses in the first year of this new business: ‘International Relations: China, the US, and the future of geopolitics;’ ‘Professional communication: business writing and storytelling;’ and ‘Fintech and the future of finance.’ All the courses run online four times a year. These products were innovative ways of delivering their editorial values of rigour, clarity, fact-based analysis, and explanation to a new audience.

The launch of this new business has not only been a truly innovative way of delivering The Economist’s editorial values to a new audience but also a truly diverse revenue stream. They have a pool of potential learners to market the course to who are already familiar with The Economist brand: 1.5m subscribers and 50m social followers. They are building differentiated courses that draw upon their editorial output and archives and their access to journalists and external leaders.

SO far over 900 participants have joined the courses since they first launched in May 2021 - the courses have earned well over £1m in year one. They have achieved 97% course completion rate, with a 96% satisfaction rate. And to match their brand, they have had a truly global cohort, with 73 countries represented.

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