, , , , ,

Every year, millions of Americans wait impatiently for Girl Scout cookie time (and then find themselves wondering, “Did I really just eat that whole box of Thin Mints?”). The national organization, the Girl Scouts of America, started selling cookies in 1917, and for snackers, the arrival of Girl Scouts touting boxes is an annual tradition.

For the organization, it also is a crucial element of its purpose and mission. This year, the boxes of cookies have undergone a redesign to emphasize that point. Namely, cookies aren’t just sweet treats. They are also a way for girls to gain skills, independence, and self-esteem.

The new boxes and a coordinated advertising campaign focus on what girls can do—in general, through the Girl Scouts, and with the proceeds earned from cookie sales. On one box, the front picture shows a Girl Scout troop working in a community garden; the back of the box highlights the Junior Gardener badge that these Scouts earned for their efforts. Other boxes similarly show girls in contemporary, active pursuits, including kayaking and painting inspirational posters for sick children.

For a product available for only a limited time and distributed relatively informally, Girl Scout cookies earn impressive revenues already. Nationwide, the girls often sell more than 200 million boxes, which earned the organization $787 million in 2011. Each troop then gets to decide how it will spend the proceeds. Popular options include field trips and troop projects. As the package redesign emphasizes, the selling efforts teach girls valuable lessons in people skills (to convince customers to buy), goal setting, decision making, money management, and even business ethics.

Consumers with such information can thus feel much better: It isn’t gluttony to eat another Trefoil. It’s a public service!

Source: Elizabeth Olson, “Girl Scouts Update Recipe for Cookie Box,” The New York Times, October 10, 2012