News / Science & Technology

    Enabling Cookies: Girl Scouts Take Sales Online

    Troops use social media to boost sales

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Each year, young girls fan out,  turning to friends and neighbors — as well as their parents' coworkers — to sell Girl Scout cookies.

    The treats have been something of an institution in the United States for more than 80 years. The ad campaigns have been updated over the years, but perhaps the biggest change is happening in 2010. This year, girls are taking their pitches for the $700 million a year business online.

    This year, the Girl Scouts are taking their $700-million a year cookie business online.
    This year, the Girl Scouts are taking their $700-million a year cookie business online.

    Enabling cookies

    Four girls from Troop 30313 cluster around a laptop in troop leader Monique Lazzarini's kitchen. The San Francisco scouts are learning how to market their cookies with eVites, text messages and on Facebook.

    They're taking advantage of the fact that, for the first time, the Girl Scouts organization is embracing online cookie marketing.

    Eleven-year-old Emily Costanza says she's enjoying the chance to learn about social media. "I feel that everyone should be using this resource," she says. "It's very helpful and it's a very [good] experience for younger children because when they're older they'll know how to use it, and it's a way to have fun with technology."

    Click to Listen:

    Download/Play Audio File


    That makes Laurel Richie, chief marketing officer for the Girl Scouts of the USA, happy. "I love the fact that we're moving from door-to-door to online because it says that we're really in touch with girls today," she says.

    Leadership for the 21st century

    The century-old girls' organization promotes cooperation and leadership. Richie says, whether the girls are selling cookies in person or marketing them online, the important thing is they're coming up with plans and executing them.

    "We've been hearing all kinds of things," she says. "I almost can't think of a media outreach vehicle that isn't being used. We have 2.6 million Girl Scouts across the country; there are probably 2.6 million different little marketing plans for the cookie program."

    Wild A. Freeborn sparked controversy last year after making a video appeal for people to buy cookies from her to help send her troop to summer camp.
    Wild A. Freeborn sparked controversy last year after making a video appeal for people to buy cookies from her to help send her troop to summer camp.

    This official enthusiasm for digital marketing wasn't apparent last year when a young Girl Scout in North Carolina posted a simple video on YouTube to pitch her cookies. The organization called the video a violation of its rules, and the scuffle over the 8-year-old's viral effort became a national story.

    Richie says the girl's safety was the main concern. "So we just took a moment to breathe and to make sure we could find a way to meet their desire to market online with our desire to make sure they do it in a way that is safe."

    Staying safe online

    The organization worked with Microsoft to develop a safety program for their scouts.

    Ten-year-old scout Natalie Guitierrez ticks off some of the points. "Don't show your picture, don't tell your last name, you don't want anyone to come find you, which is really bad. Don't tell them your phone number." She knows that people are not necessarily what they seem online. "If they say, like, 'It's safe, I'm OK, I'm a doctor or something,' they might be lying."

    Enabling Cookies: Girl Scouts Take Sales Online
    Enabling Cookies: Girl Scouts Take Sales Online

    Laurel Richie says a new Girl Scout pledge to be careful on line incorporates those ideas, and is just as important as teaching girls the technologies themselves.

    The kids are doing their work online supervised by troop leaders and sometimes, parents. Parents who are getting busier by the day welcome technological help for cookie sales.

    Marina Park, who heads the Girl Scouts program in Northern California, says it's been hard to find parents with the time to volunteer with the group, let alone do cookie sales door-to-door. "If the parents are working, you really don't want [to be] walking your kids after dark when there's homework to be done and dinner to be made," she says. "It really simplifies the whole thing."

    Money raised from cookie sales helps support Girl Scout outings like this visit to the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site in Texas.
    Money raised from cookie sales helps support Girl Scout outings like this visit to the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site in Texas.

    Sweet success

    The new marketing technique seems to be having an effect on sales. At the group's national office, Laurel Richie says she's been hearing that this has been an impressive selling season around the country. Troop leader Lazzarini says her girls have sold two to three times as many boxes as they had by this time last year.

    Marina Park says advanced sales have gone up 9% across Northern California. "That's a significant change, particularly because by and large, cookie sales have been flat to declining nationwide for some time, and so to see a big uptick like that is pretty significant."

    And pretty important, too. The money raised from cookie sales helps train troop leaders, improve camp sites and offer financial assistance to make Girl Scouts activities available to all girls who are interested.

    But if for some reason the online sales don't work out, there's always the old tried and true approach — selling in person.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora