You take on the Girl Scouts, you lose.


Emailed on March 1, 2019 in The Friday Forward

From February to April each year, girl scouts in the U.S. sell about 200 million boxes of cookies, managing nearly every aspect of the $800 million business. 

Some perspective: That’s more than the nearly $675 million in Oreo sales last year, and more than sale of Chips Ahoy and Milano combined

“The annual Girl Scout cookie sale is a force of nature at the national level,” John Frank, a Mintel food analyst, told USA Today. “Big companies like Kraft know it’s coming, and they’ve learned to live with it. It’s like a storm and there’s nothing they can do but wait for it to pass, because there is no upside to marketing against the Girl Scouts.”

This is big business: Local Girl Scout councils choose which baker to work with (there are two bakeries that are licensed by the organization—that’s the reason ‘Samoas’ are called ‘Caramel deLites’ in some parts of the country), and girls decide how best to sell and what to do with the money they make.

Every February top sellers (known as “cookie executives") from the New York City council of Girl Scouts gather at Girl Scouts HQ in NYC to discuss and advise on the next few year's strategy. 

While members have to sell 500 boxes of cookies to sit on the committee, the boardroom meeting is not just about their personal sales: The participating scouts are asked to collaborate and come up with ways to help the organization as a whole.

They have business cards and pitch strategies and plenty of ideas about how their fellow scouts can corner the cookie market. The Cookie Executive Committee, after a pizza lunch, dove into a strategic planning session for the 29,000 girls around the city who make up the Girl Scouts of Greater New York.

Aside from ecommerce and marketing skills, the girls learn about goal tracking, decision making, and business ethics.

I can't be the only one: who didn't know you can order these cookies online?

Sean Steigerwald