2013 marks a milestone for the Girl Scouts, with a century of building "courage, confidence, and character" in young girls across the United States and beyond. The organization also celebrates 95 years of one of its most popular programs: the sale of its famously irresistible cookies.
For the 2013 cookie selling season, which takes place between January and April of each year, Girl Scouts of the USA has revamped its business approach, taking innovative measures to broaden customer access and overall appeal.
And these girls will stop at nothing to make their sale.
Over the last 95 years, GSUSA has nurtured a multimillion dollar enterprise focused on teaching young women the ethics of business and entrepreneurship. The program seeks to build confidence and reliability, but not the personal bank accounts of the girls who participate.
"Every penny after paying the baker stays with the local Girl Scout council that supports the sale," said a statement from the organization. Councils use cookie revenue to supply troops, groups, and individual girls with program resources, communication support, adult volunteers and assistance in conducting events.
The statement continued, "We see the opportunity to increase revenues nationwide and change the dialogue about Girl Scout Cookies."
They're baking up some creative ways to get there.
The Girl Scouts redesigned their boxes to appeal to a more modern customer, highlighting the five key principles that the cookie sales program teaches: goal-setting, decision-making, money management, business ethics and people skills.
"For the first time in over a decade we've updated our boxes to really show that actually Girl Scout Cookies are more than just cookies," GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chávez told CNN's Early Start. "They develop these young ladies into tremendous leaders that are doing amazing things in their communities."
The organization is also making a nod toward health-conscious consumers with the introduction of Mango Crèmes. It's a new cookie featuring mango, coconut, vanilla and "Nutrifusion," a product that "supercharges" foods' nutritional value, according to the maker's website. ABC Bakers, one of only two "Official Girl Scout Cookie Bakers," describes the product as "a mango-flavored creme filling with all the nutrient benefits of eating cranberries, pomegranates, oranges, grapes, and strawberries."
Marketing and promotion strategies have also been overhauled. While tradition has it that Girl Scouts go door-to-door taking orders in their community and later hand-deliver the goods, tech trends have now made it possible for customers to seek out their sweet treat suppliers. The Girl Scout Cookie Finder App, available on iPhone and Android devices, provides GPS coordinates for the nearest cookie sales location.
Additionally, in step with recent food world trends, local troops teamed up with Sweetery NYC, a New York City food truck and mobile bakery, to create the National Girl Scout Cookie Day Truck. On Friday, February 8th, girls from all across the tri-state area rolled up to four different locations at designated intervals throughout the day. The snowstorm raged. The Girl Scouts sold on, securing canopy poles and credit card transactions.
That's right – the Girl Scouts now accept plastic. Friday marked the introduction of the new sales method.
On average, Girl Scout troops participating in the program raise over $790 million a year and GSUSA doesn't have plans to slow down anytime soon. Neither do the girls, themselves.
Girl Scouts in the Greater Northeast last week were not only in competition with each other – they were battling the elements. As a blizzard rocked the region, sugar-starved adults trudged through sharp hail and strong winds to get their hands on those famous green boxes.
Maribel Sabino, a 14-year-old Senior Girl Scout taking a break from sales to seek shelter from the cold, sat with her family at a café in midtown Manhattan. "We are here selling Girl Scout Cookies to inform people that Girl Scouts is not only about selling cookies and camping, but it is about how Girl Scouts is the number one girl-led business in the world," she said.
Maribel's 12-year-old sister Rachel, a Cadette, didn't mind the weather all that much. "It's really a voluntary thing, but it teaches girls about life skills."
Their youngest sister Olivia, a 9-year-old Junior Girl Scout, agreed. "I use decision-making every day," she explained. "I have to decide what time I'm going to wake up for school; I have to decide what the Girl Scout money is going to be used for. It not only helps us in the future but it helps us every day."
Girl Scouts of the USA serves girls ranging from five to seventeen years of age. Troops exist in every zip code in America and 92 countries across the world. The organization now boasts 3.2 million young and adult members worldwide.
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