News / Science & Technology

Enabling Cookies: Girl Scouts Take Sales Online

Troops use social media to boost sales

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid