2015 Cookie Program Features
Get ready for the 2015 Girl Scout Cookie Program! We listened to your feedback and are reintroducing the Girl Scout Cookie Program with exciting changes beneficial to our members and volunteers.
- Cookies will be $5 a box, so troop proceeds will increase by nearly 27% to $.95. "Opt-out" proceeds will double to $.10. This is the first price increase GSGLA has had since 2004. See how $5 a box supports Girl Scouts.
- The program will shift to a simpler direct sale (no initial orders period), meaning cookies will be in hand at the start and customers will have immediate satisfaction. Transaction volume is expected to be higher and the sale will better align with the timing of our neighboring councils' cookie seasons.
- Rah Rah Raisin: Delicious and hearty oatmeal cookies with plump raisins and Greek yogurt-flavored chunks. (We tried it; it's super yummy!)
- Gluten-Free Option: Our licensed cookie baker, Little Brownie Bakers, has developed a pilot run of a new gluten-free cookie, Toffee-tastic, which we will carry in limited quantities. Toffee-tastic is a crispy, buttery cookies packed with golden toffee bits. The cookie will sell for $6, due to the expensive nature of the ingredients, separate baking process, and additional distribution costs.
- Jan. 30-31, 2015 - Cookie deliveries
- Feb. 1 , 2015 - Go day! Girls can start selling with cookies in hand.
- Feb. 13, 2015 - Boothing begins
- March 8, 2015 - Cookie program ends
Why is the Girl Scout cookie price increasing to $5 a box?
Primarily, the increase in the cookie price is because inflation has increased the cost of doing business for troops, service units, and the overall council. The last time we increased the price was more than 10 years ago.
We heard from you and we listened. Through recent program evaluation surveys and review by our volunteer-led Product Sales Go Team, you provided us with great feedback. This decision was not made without volunteer consideration.
A price increase is necessary to keep up with the ever-increasing costs of running a nonprofit organization. Without an increase in price, we are unable to cover existing costs or provide for program enhancements, building repairs, or other investments on behalf of our membership.
When was the last time the cookie price increased?
The last price increase for Girl Scout Cookies in the greater Los Angeles area was more than a decade ago in 2004. Since then, the cost of rent, utilities, programs, training materials, repairs, staffing support, etc. have collectively increased by approximately 28%, according to the Consumer Price Index. Even the cost of the cookie from the baker has increased 19% since 2004.
What are the troop/girl benefits of a price increase?
- Troop proceeds are expected to increase nearly 27% to $0.95 per box.
- The troop reward “opt-out” value will double to $0.10.
- The rewards budget will increase 25%.
- Cookie proceeds incentives for participating in Early Bird membership renewal.
Were there any alternatives to raising the price?
Yes, other options were considered:
- Council service fee – In 2011, GSUSA amended its bylaws to allow councils to charge a “council service fee” to each member up to the amount of the current membership cost. This fee would be retained by the council as a new revenue source. GSGLA, however, chose not to impose such a fee on each of our girl and adult members.
- Decreasing costs – Decreasing our costs would decrease our programs, membership support services, and reduce the resources necessary to run a nonprofit organization. We made cuts last year which significantly impacted the organization. Additional cuts would reduce our ability to serve our current members and impede our ability to serve more girls.
Are neighboring councils increasing their price?
Yes, some of our neighboring councils are making the move to $5/box. GSGLA has been discussing this change with all of our neighbors for the past two years and believe that having all councils change in the same year would be ideal. Each council is making this decision based on their individual circumstances. Orange County and San Diego councils will increase their price to $5 for 2015; however, San Gorgonio and Central California Coast councils have chosen to stay at the $4 price for another year because of circumstances specific to their regions.
The price differential for the neighboring councils remaining at $4 is not expected to be of great impact, as customers want to support their local Girl Scouts. In addition, GSGLA decided to implement a direct sale model this year in order to diminish the possible impact of a price difference.
Will the price increase make cookies harder to sell?
No. Our research shows that many customers don’t know what they pay per box now. They want to buy cookies and most often ask what the price is. Can you name an item that costs the same now as it did a decade ago? That’s a hard task for your customers, too. You’ll find that the vast majority of customers are surprised that the price has not changed in 11 years, and people understand that costs go up over time.
What if customers buy fewer boxes?
Based on research from other councils, there is a trend of a moderate decrease in the number of boxes sold. In preparation, GSGLA has planned for a possible 10-15% decrease in volume. The good news is that even if the volume decreases at this rate, troop proceeds would still increase. The number of boxes sold would have to decrease by 23% in order to have a negative impact on proceeds from a 25% price increase.
Furthermore, GSGLA has one of the strongest cookie programs in the nation. That’s because you are phenomenal, and we know how proud and confident you are in the determination and entrepreneurial spirit of our girls. With your continued support, our girls will do just fine and troops will undoubtedly see greater proceeds.
Finally, let’s keep in mind that the cookie program is about the learning opportunities for our girls. Throughout this year’s cookie season, girls will gain a fantastic economic lesson to add to the five skills they learn through participation.
What if customers complain about the price?
Remind them that they are supporting programs that develop girls and help build the next generation of leaders.
The cookie program is the largest and most significant financial literacy program for girls in our community.
Remind them that the cookies are for sale only once a year—and they are delicious.
With millions of customers, our girls encounter many different perceptions. The fact is that this is the first increase in price in more than a decade.
Why are we increasing the cost by a full $1 all at once?
These are the main reasons GSGLA is increasing the cost by $1 instead of incrementally:
- The $1 increase prices the value of Girl Scouting correctly. There is no need to undervalue our product or brand.
- Girls and troops have said they do not want to deal with change in quarters.
- We do not want to draw out the process of a $1 increase by having price increases over multiple years.
- Inching up the cost over time will feed the public’s incorrect perception that the price changes all the time.
- Less than $1 or a $0.50 increase does not provide the revenue necessary to support troops, service units or services to our adult and girl members, and it undercuts the value of Girl Scouting in the community.
How will the price increase affect Gift of Caring?
In previous sales, some customers rounded up their $4/box purchase price to $5 and donated the extra dollar to Gift of Caring (GOC), so the $5 box could affect Gift of Caring donations—but it doesn’t have to. It’s simply a matter of asking customers to “add on” a GOC donation rather than “rounding up” to one. People really do love feeling good about giving! Girls who maximize the potential of helping our GOC partners will still see a strong return on investment in the GOC Program. GOC is still an invaluable strategy to helping increase your overall goals.
What are some good ways to market cookies?
Girl Scout Cookies are a tasty treat and the public knows this is their primary opportunity to support girls and Girl Scouts.
- Share the goodwill of Girl Scouting. Troops are encouraged to be prepared to tell their story. It’s a great way to draw in customers.
- Speak to customers about how buying cookies helps Girl Scouts locally in their community.
- Inform customers about how the cookie program helps girls build their confidence and learn skills that will serve them throughout their lives.
- Talk about the 5 Skills! The cookie program is the largest financial literacy program in the world. The five skills girls learn are goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. They are the bedrock of the cookie program, and they can convey a moving story when girls give good examples about how they’ve used these skills in Girl Scouts.
- Customers are not just buying a box of cookies, they are also supporting programs that build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
- Look for more great ways to market Girl Scout Cookies coming soon to www.girlscoutsla.org.
How does the cookie program support Girl Scouts?
GSGLA cookie proceeds—100%!—go to supporting Girl Scouting in the greater Los Angeles area. Cookie proceeds support troops and help provide high-quality, low-cost, and safe experiences for more than 40,000 girls and more than 20,000 adults, including programs and activities, training, materials, services, resources, communications, collateral, and facilities. See how $5 a box supports Girl Scouts.
GSGLA spends approximately $365 per Girl Scout. Funding to support Girl Scouting in greater Los Angeles is through a combination of product sales (cookie program and fall product program), program and camp fees, retail sales, and fundraising. GSGLA receives none of the annual $15 GSUSA membership fee.
How is a direct sale different from the initial orders model that I am used to?
Initial orders model (8 weeks): At the start of the sale, girls go out with an order card to collect orders from their potential customers. Girls turn in their order cards, wait for their order to arrive, and then girls go back to the customer to deliver them a few weeks later. Girls finish off the sale with boothing.
Direct sale model (6 weeks): The process of collecting customers’ order pre-delivery is eliminated. Using a formula, troops place a “starting inventory” order in mid-January and cookies get delivered Jan. 30–31. Troops start selling immediately with cookies in hand on Feb. 1. For two weeks, troops will sell through personal connections and door-to-door, and then convert to boothing to finish the sale.
Will girls still use an order card?
Girls will use a condensed girl order card to help them track sales and orders, but it will not be submitted to place an order like it was used in the past.
How is a direct sale more beneficial than an initial order sale?
Taking orders in the past with a girl order card was lucrative, but it can’t compete with the speed and efficiency of an instantaneous sale and delivery, all in one transaction. There is no need to go back to a customer for delivery, and customers will be happy that they can enjoy their cookies right away. The instant gratification also tends to increase sales. Since girls will always have a supply of cookies in-hand, they can always make the sale. A direct sale is also faster, taking less time to complete each sale.
Why are we changing to the direct sale model?
Volunteers have asked for this change. The new model will allow GSGLA to have cookies in hand around the same time as surrounding councils who have already converted to a direct sale model. The timing will help troops who are in close proximity to neighboring councils and help all Girl Scouts in providing a fairly consistent “time of sale” message. The direct sale model will also make the overall experience easier for the troops.
What are the phases of a direct sale? Do we still booth?
Starting on “Go Day!” (Feb. 1), troops can begin selling with cookies in hand for the first two weeks of the sale. Girls should not sell before this date. Door-to-door sales, cookie mobiles, personal asks, networking, email (Cookie Club), and Facebook are all viable methods to publicize your sale to customers. Cupboards will open earlier than before to support this direct sale phase.
After the initial two weeks and for the remaining four weeks, boothing is available. As in prior years, service units (SU) will secure sites for the Booth Scheduler, and troops will self-select their boothing options.
How will GSGLA support troops through this new direct sale model?
There will be extensive training, webinars, and materials on how to navigate a direct sale. GSGLA will work very closely with troops and service units so that troops are strategic and well-prepared to convert to the direct sale.
What is a “starting inventory,” and why do I need it?
Starting inventory is the initial set of cookies a girl will need to have “in hand” to start making sales. It is important to order a sufficient inventory of cookies to stay ahead of her customers’ needs. If girls do not have cookies in hand on Feb. 1, they are going to miss the first opportunity to engage with customers.
How do I know how much to order for the troop’s starting inventory?
GSGLA will train troops using best practices from other councils who have already converted to the direct sale model. We recommend that returning troops place a starting inventory order (SIO) of at least 75% of their total anticipated 2015 sale. History and best practices have informed us that a 75% starting inventory order will provide enough cookies for two weeks of direct sale plus opening boothing weekend. To calculate this number, please use the Recommended Starting Inventory Worksheet (Returning Troops tab) which uses a formula that factors in each troop’s 2014 sales volume and the 2015 number of girls selling. Troops that are new to cookie season can calculate their SIO using the same worksheet, but under the New Troops tab which uses a formula based on regional per-girl-average. Trainings will provide more details.
This is my first time participating in the cookie program. What do I order for my starting inventory?
Using our experience and data from past sales, GSGLA will provide details on how to forecast a new troop’s expected 2015 sales volume, and then take 75% of that number to order its starting inventory. To calculate this, please use the Recommended Starting Inventory Worksheet (New Troops tab) which uses a formula based on Girl Scout level, geographic location, cookie flavor popularity, and per-girl average to help new troops compute a good, strong number. The last thing we want to see is a troop take on too much product when they are not experienced at how to sell it, or a troop that is too conservative and does not order enough product to fulfill their customers’ needs. Veteran troop leaders, cookie mentors, and staff are all here to help train you. You are not alone.
Will GSGLA still collect payments from the troops right away?
Yes. GSGLA will collect a first ACH debit on Feb. 13 and then collect a final ACH debit on March 20. We have reduced the first debit amount to $1.50/box. It is not in GSGLA’s interest to try to collect too much or too fast. We want troops to be successful, and we want to provide a manageable schedule of collection. More details to come at training.
What are the pros and cons of a direct sale?
- Better alignment of sale dates with our neighboring councils (cookies in hand in late January)
- Shorter sale by two weeks – more time for other activities
- Simpler sale for girls, volunteers, and parents
- Save the delivery step – no repeat visits
- Selling momentum is continuous.
- Customer transaction volume is higher when you can deliver on the spot.
- Rewards will be ready for delivery in late-April, before troops stop for the year.
- Girl Scouts across councils selling at the same time provides a consistent message.
- Typically more cupboard volume to manage (may impact wait times, management)
- Earlier start to cookies – SU training in November; troop training in December
- Troops need to be prepared for cookie deliveries in January.
- Individual customer commitments are relatively unknown and starting inventory is based on historical trends.
How does starting inventory delivery differ from the initial order delivery?
Very little. Troops still order in whole cases. However, starting inventory delivery for 2015 will be two days, Jan. 30 and 31. GSGLA will do everything possible to make sure delivery goes smoothly and quickly.
Will we still have cupboard features like pending orders, even exchange, to-the-box pick-ups, and consignments?
Our goal is to preserve all of these customer-friendly qualities. It is GSGLA’s commitment to make the cupboard experience work for everyone.
- Pending orders will be more important than ever. With the increased volume, we truly need everyone to place their pending orders 48 hours in advance to give us time to be prepared. There are a few troops who withdraw thousands of cases and this drains the cupboards for all. We are developing a separate process to service these troops.
- Even exchanges will return, but the window of opportunity may be shortened.
- To-the-box pick-up is a service we hope to preserve. Again, the timing will definitely be modified from the past, so be sure to check for availability when you place a pending order.
- Consignment sales will come back to provide that level of tailored customer service. Our goal is always to deliver flexibility if it makes the cookie season easier for the troops.
To maintain efficiency at the cupboard, we will need to schedule the dates of these features carefully. Pay close attention to these dates, as the schedule will differ from last year, 2014.
Will we have a gluten-free cookie for 2015?
Yes, Little Brownie Bakers (LBB) has developed a gluten-free cookie, Toffee-tastic, that meets their standards for quality and taste. It is an original recipe that has not been offered by any other baker. It is a crispy, buttery cookies packed with golden toffee bits.
Will the gluten-free cookie be on the girl order card?
No. This cookie will be a pilot for Little Brownie Bakers (LBB) for 2015. GSGLA will determine how much of the cookie to order in September 2014. That volume cannot be changed or increased. The cookie will be baked in a separate gluten-free-certified facility and is a one-time purchase. We will work with our troop leaders to determine an appropriate volume, knowing that every troop cannot place a custom order. A fair system of allocation or prorating will be necessary.
What is the price of the gluten-free cookie?
The retail price of the gluten-free, Toffee-tastic cookie will be $6; this is $1 more than all the other cookies we will offer in 2015. Because of the cost associated with producing gluten-free products, most gluten-free products are more expensive than regular products. Customers seeking a gluten-free alternative know and expect to pay more for a gluten-free item. The cost of the gluten-free cookie from the baker is more than double the cost of all the other Little Brownie Bakers (LBB) varieties. This is because of the expensive nature of the ingredients, the separate baking process, and the additional distribution costs.
Can I get the gluten-free cookie from the cupboard?
No. GSGLA is ordering a set amount in September 2014 which will be fairly allocated to troops. The council cannot order more from LBB, nor can troops order more from GSGLA.
Will the gluten-free cookie count toward rewards?
Yes. The troop allocation will be entered into eBudde and will count toward troop proceeds and girl rewards just like any other cookie. eBudde will process the troop proceeds correctly and allow for girl allocations toward rewards.
Will all councils have a gluten-free cookie available?
Both Girl Scout cookie bakers will offer a gluten-free cookie to councils for 2015. The baker that GSGLA does NOT use (ABC Bakers) will offer a "Trio" cookie as their next gluten-free pilot. It is a combination of chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal.
What is the other new cookie that Little Brownie Bakers will offer in 2015?
In addition to the gluten-free, Toffee-tastic cookie, Little Brownie Bakers (LBB) has added a Rah Rah Raisin cookie to its line-up. It is a soft and chewy oatmeal raisin cookie with Greek yogurt-flavored chunks. It has the wholesome goodness of oatmeal grains and the trend of Greek yogurt. It’s really good!
How many cookies will GSGLA offer for 2015?
For the past two years, GSGLA has been a “Super Six” council offering the traditional, best-selling varieties (Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos), plus the 100th anniversary cookie, Savannah Smiles (lemon).
In 2015, we will offer eight varieties, which include the same six, PLUS the new Rah Rah Raisin and gluten-free pilot (eight total). Please remember that only a limited number of gluten-free cookies will be ordered, and the gluten-free cookie will not be listed on the order card.
How do I try the new raisin cookie?
One box will be offered to every troop for the girls to sample. These cookies will be delivered to your service unit cookie program chair sometime in November.