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

After Kenyatta Setback, ICC Struggles to Move Ahead

Collapse of the case against Kenya's president, other setbacks are fueling a debate about International Criminal Court's effectiveness and relevancy More

Video Conservationists Use Science to Preserve Rare Species of Rhino

With just five northern white rhinos left in the world, caretakers hope reproductive science may be able to preserve the gene pool More

Video Opening Trade With Cuba Bittersweet for Some

Long-time Cuban exiles in Miami say news is double-edged for those who had to leave everything behind More

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.
Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014i
X
December 23, 2014 7:28 PM
The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.
Video

Video Russian Moves Provide New Mission for NATO

Russia’s more aggressive military posture in Europe during the past year has pushed NATO to take new steps to strengthen its defenses, providing it, analysts say, with a much-needed new mission. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid