Why Girl Scouts Stubbornly Refuse To Sell Cookies In StoresS

After we wrote about their logo redesign, a representative from the Girl Scouts got in touch to talk about how the organization has changed since its lanyard-and-merit-badge days — and why they'll never sell cookies in stores.

Senior Brand Manager Sharon Lee spoke with us about the other elements of the Girl Scouts' rebranding effort — in addition to creating the new logo, the organization is marketing itself on the web, as well as in malls, airports and movie theaters in order to "be where the girls are." The Scouts are especially reaching out to potential volunteers and to first-generation Hispanic moms, a group with "very low awareness of Girl Scouts." Lee also confirmed that scouting has changed a lot in recent years, in order to accommodate busy girls who are "inundated with other activities." Girls no longer have to join traditional troops with weekly meetings — instead, they "can sign up for topic-specific events and series in a way that works for their own schedules."

The Scouts see their biggest enrollment dropoff after fifth grade, when girls enter middle school and "are faced with a whole new set of social challenges and opportunities." So the organization is focusing especially hard on convincing middle school girls that scouting is a way to "make a positive impact on the world." Lee said,

One of the biggest things that we learned in research is that girls want to make a difference [...] When we started to talk to girls about the ability to join Girl Scouts and to do a beach cleanup, or to help clean up an oil spill, or to help plant a community garden that would educate their community about the importance of local farming and green initiatives, suddenly that allowed them to see Girl Scouts in a completely different way.

One thing that remains the same, however, is cookies. SNL writer John Mulaney's criticisms notwithstanding, Lee said the Scouts would never sell their cookies in stores. She explained,

The purpose of the cookie program is to really allow the girl to be almost the CEO of her own cookie business [...] So if we were to sell the cookies in the stores we would be taking that opportunity away from the girls, and we feel like it's so important for girls to learn leadership skills and especially for them to have the opportunity to run their own business and learn how to manage money and learn decision-making skills.

She also pointed out that many female CEOs credited Girl Scout cookies with setting them on the path to success, and mentioned one who'd recently been featured in the Times. That would be Barbara Krumsiek, CEO of the investment firm Calvert Group, who told the Times back in May that many of her business skills were formed in the cookie drive, where "I always vied for the top selling awards." Times may have changed since she was a Girl Scout, but one thing remains the same — you cannot get a Samoa in the supermarket.

Image via Original Champions of Design.

Girl Scouts 2010 [Microsite]

Related: It's Not A Career Ladder, It's An Obstacle Course [NYT]

Earlier: Girl Scouts Reveal Underwhelming New Logo