Girl Scouts: Limiting Cookie Sales by Strengthening Their Brand?

by cv harquail on February 8, 2010

Good news for you and your Thin Mint Addiction!

The Girl Scouts are making it easy to find out where those dang cookies are being sold!

(Now I don’t have to drive to Walmart and get the cheaper but less meaningful generic imitations!)

The Girl Scouts have an online cookie locator– just type in your zip code and (in most cases) you get all you need to know to fulfill your cookie cookie.jpg

This is a great innovation, since it’s much easier to buy cookies when you know when and where they’ll be available, right?

But there is one interesting tweak with the Girls Scouts’ online sale program — you can’t actually “buy” the cookies with a few mouse clicks.

You can let your local Girl Scouts know that you want to but cookies, and in some areas you can place an order, but in all cases an actual Girl Scout has to deliver the cookies to you and collect your payment.

Obviously, this extra step adds ‘friction’ to the sales process, and may deter some customers from buying cookies.

Is it smart for the Girl Scouts to have this limitation on their cookie e-commerce?

Absolutely. This may be a little annoyance for the cookie buyer who wants a quick fix. BUT, this obstacle serves an important purpose.

By having the cookies delivered by actual Girl Scouts, this step in the sales process —

  1. Reminds buyers that there are actual Girl Scouts connected to the cookies. These are Cookies with a Mission, sold by Girls who are doing Great Things.
  2. Allows buyers to meet a few Girl Scouts in their town. Heck, they may even recognize these girls as neighbors– supporting a sense of community.
  3. Allows buyers and Girl Scouts a chance to talk about Scouting, about the girls’ troop’s plans for the money and/or their activities in the community.
  4. Keeps the girls themselves actively involved in the sales process, so that they keep learning the right lessons about business.

Girl Scout Cookie Sales exist for several reasons, only one of which is fundraising.

As we discovered in the responses to my posts about Girl Scout Cookies, Walmart, and social media, there is a great deal of misunderstanding, as well as general lack of understanding, about how cookie sales support the Girl Scouts. (I’ll address these issues in some upcoming posts. )

This little tweak in the online-assisted Girl Scout Cookie Sales process might look like it is limiting the number of cookies the Girl Scouts might sell — but it also makes sure that the cookie sales support the Girl Scouts’ overall brand. This may cost them a little in lost sales, but it contributes to the overall program for rebranding the Girl Scouts and reinforcing their mission.

I can’t imagine that anyone who loves authentic Thin Mints, or authentic organizations, will be deterred by a little face-to-face brandbuilding, do you?

[Fortunately or unfortunately, the specifics & ease of these online-assisted sales will vary with your Girl Scout Council (the region assigned by your zip code). Some Councils ask you to enter your email and then have a particular troop contact you. Other regions just have a landing page with basic info about the sale program. My own Council has an inert and not-very-helpful landing page. And yes, I have already sent them an email with suggestions on how to improve it quickly. We’ll see how they respond.]

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