The business with Girl Scout Cookies
HENLEY DOHERTY | Asst. BUSINESS EDITOR | THE USD VISTA | @hensolo_
Girl Scout Cookies are an incredibly popular treat amongst students at the University of San Diego. Samoas, Thin Mints, and Tagalongs are names that are familiar to most people across the entire United States.
Girl Scout troops are often found on campus selling the cookies to passing students in front of the University Center each Spring semester. The Girl Scouts seen on campus work through the local Girl Scouts San Diego chapter.
At the 2016 Oscars, host Chris Rock brought in a local Los Angeles-based Girl Scout troop during the show, including his own daughters, to sell Girl Scout Cookies to the celebrities in attendance. They sold the cookies at the show at about $4 per box. A whopping $65,243 worth of the cookies were sold during the night, leaving many people skeptical.
However, according to Adweek, the Girl Scouts headquarters confirmed this amount, although they specified that a large portion of these proceeds also came from direct donations made to the Girl Scout troop during the show; thus, not all of the $65,243 came from the cookies sold to celebrities. They also affirmed that all of the proceeds received that night would remain with the local troop that sold them.
Since the stunt at the Oscars, Girl Scouts have also experienced a slight increase in cookie sales nationwide, as well as a major boost in the organization’s brand recognition.
While the Girl Scouts organization is not just based on selling the famous cookies, the business provides the young girls with the opportunity to learn new skills that can benefit them in the future. Through the business, the young Girl Scout members are taught leadership, selling, and finance, and marketing management skills. They are also taught to set both individual and business-minded goals.
According to the Girl Scouts website, the Girl Scout Cookies business constitutes the largest all-female run business in the world, and the girls selling the cookies range in age from about six to 12 years old.
According to Fortune magazine, in the past year revenue from cookies sold by troops around the U.S. totaled to about $776 million.
An adult typically oversees the Girl Scouts as they sell cookies at stands that they set up at local grocery stores and school campuses, such as at USD.
However, it is always the young girls themselves that are responsible for the entire selling process; it is they who are in charge of attracting all of the customers, counting the money, and keeping track of cookie inventory.
First year Lauren Borchart recounts her time as a Girl Scout and how the cookie selling business benefits the girls.
“Being a former Girl Scout myself, I know how important selling cookies is,” Borchart said. “It not only helps teach money management and leadership but helps build confidence in being independent and a self starter.”
According to the LA Times, Girl Scout Cookies are produced by two major manufacturers, ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. In fact, this has led to two slightly different versions of each cookie, which are aimed to target different markets in different states in the U.S.
For example, the cookies that San Diegans know as Samoas are given the name Caramel deLites in states including Nevada and Texas. Tagalongs are known in other states as Peanut Butter Patties. These cookies, along with Thin Mints, also have slightly different ingredients and tastes depending on which of the two companies the cookies are manufactured from and which region they’re marketed towards. Therefore, which version of the cookie you’re getting is based on the region you purchase them from. This has led to some confusion and dissatisfaction amongst customers.
Senior Maxine Velez shared her thoughts on the different versions of Girl Scout cookies that are produced around the U.S.
“Well they do that on purpose to appeal to their target markets in geographic areas,” Velez said. “I think it’s unfair because it can mislead a consumer and might even cause a loss of sales especially for someone who just moved to the area and is misinformed on the product names,”
Velez is upset about the differences between cookies of different regions.
“Picture this: you just moved from California to Nevada and are craving a Samoa, you look at the different packages and see there are no Samoas so you decide to settle on these deLites against your will because the photos are similar but to your surprise it tastes nothing like the California Samoas,” Velez said. “Bam! The little Girl Scouts just misled you into wasting five dollars of unsatisfying cookies.”
Either way, Girl Scout cookies currently cost about $5 per box in Southern California. Prices have gone up over time and vary in different regions of the country.
As for where the money generated from the cookies goes, well over half of the proceeds remain with the local Girl Scout branch and council to fund events, training, and philanthropic service projects for the girls themselves. The rest of the money, adding up to about one dollar, covers the cost of production of the cookies.
Girl Scouts has now even come out with their own smartphone app, Girl Scout Cookie Finder, that allows you to locate the nearest stand where the cookies are being sold. You can also order cookies online through a program called Digital Cookie, but you still must first consult either a Girl Scout or the local Girl Scout council. Girl Scout members are still actively involved in the selling process and management of the popular cookie business.