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Girl Scouts cut cookie selection

The marketing-savvy organization sees more profit in fewer varieties. Can't find cookies? Use the app.

By Teresa Mears Jan 31, 2011 2:19PM

No one is immune to the economy, not even the Girl Scouts.


The organization is discontinuing some of its less popular cookie flavors, choosing to cut costs by focusing on just six flavors in 12 test markets around the country.

Whew! Samoas (also known as Caramel deLites) are still being sold nationwide, as are Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, Lemon Chalet Cremes and Tagalongs (aka Peanut Butter Patties).


But Dulce de Leche, Thank U Berry Munch and All Abouts shortbread cookies are no longer on the menu for the regions participating in the Super Six pilot.


The Girl Scouts, which started selling cookies in 1917, have focused more on successful marketing techniques in recent years. The organization's latest move was to embrace the use of social media for cookie sales.


Like other merchants, the organization is looking for ways to cut costs in lean times.


"Our top five varieties make up 77% of cookie sales," Amanda Hamaker, the Girl Scouts' manager of national product sales, told The Wall Street Journal. "The others are yummy and fun, but they're side dressing -- leaving councils with an awful lot of alternate varieties left over."


She told the WSJ: "We're all seeking a little more simplicity." Post continues after video.

Girl Scout cookies are still not sold on the Web -- leaders believe the girls learn more when they sell in person -- but Girl Scouts 13 and older can now market their cookies online. You can read about the cookies on the Web (enter your ZIP code to find a local troop selling cookies), "like" Girl Scout cookies on Facebook (and send virtual cookies to your friends with the app), follow the Girl Scouts on Twitter, watch them on YouTube and download cookie-finding apps for iPhone and Android.


The Girl Scouts may be tightening their belts but they're making it easy for you to buy a few boxes of cookies rather than tighten yours. Prices are $3.50 to $4 a box, depending on where you live.


So far, the discontinuation of the less popular flavors hasn't drawn much opposition, though 12-year-old Girl Scout Josephine Woytas of Oklahoma and her family are hoarding boxes of the Dulce de Leche caramel cookies. "I can't believe they took those away," Josephine told the WSJ. "I guess what it comes down to is the consumer's choice."


The Girl Scouts must know what they're doing. According to the WSJ, profits rose from $700 million to $714 million last year, after six years of falling about 1% a year.


More from MSN Money:

Jan 31, 2011 4:54PM
Wonder what percentage of GS cookies are sold by parents to their co-workers?
Jan 31, 2011 6:54PM
Wow, it's disappointing to see the amount of negative comments here.   I was a girl scout and sold cookies door-to-door, and delivered them with my wagon, no less.  I learned so much, including self confidence.  When I sold these cookies in the 80's they were $2 a box.  They're $4 now, so with inflation, that seems about right.  Girl scout cookies are as American and Apple Pie.  If you don't like em' don't buy em'.  But don't knock what the girls are learning from this.  Overall, I think it's a great organization.  Some flaws for sure.  But I don't think it's fair to make them sound like cancer-causing thiefs.  Get a grip!
Jan 31, 2011 7:44PM
I have deleted this site on my homepage due to the constant automatic start of videos lower on my screen that scare the crap out of me every time I click on a headline I want to see.  You should be ashamed, smart spending! I have repeatedly requested you stop this method of commercial advertising, but you have not listened. All MSN money links have been deleted as of now due to this rude method of yours to advertise on your webpages.Angry
Jan 31, 2011 7:12PM
I used to sell Girl Scout cookies when they were made by the Burry company. They were truly a much better product. Thin mints were actually a short bread cookie covered with the chocolate mint and the quality was way better in size and taste. These little mint flat disc's hardly qualify as a cookie in my book. They need to make the product better..Period!!!
Jan 31, 2011 5:23PM
How about they stop jacking the price up while either making the packages smaller or using the same size package to hold less? Here's an economics lesson: people don't like to be ripped off. I'll pay a fair price for a fair product - plus a little bit for a good cause - but I know the markup percentage is huge and it's not all going to the troops. Have you seen some of the Girl Scout offices? I'd rather give the girls $2 cash and then go into the store and buy a $2 package of Keeblers.
Jan 31, 2011 5:21PM

Oh I remember the days when they were 50 cents a box…sold a lot of them in the mid 1960s; good memories!!  Sold them myself, door to door!!

Jan 31, 2011 5:25PM
Since the troop gets such a tiny percentage of the sales, you're better off giving the troop your 4 dollars directly.
Jan 31, 2011 5:30PM
Be careful what you spend your money on.  Girl Scouts has nationally reorganized councils to make them better for all.  What a joke that is.  Councils are becoming very disfunctional and the "Upper" management doesn't care about the staff, girls or volunteers.  The deep upping the price of the cookies, giving you less for your money and then the council I live in isn't eveh held accountable for the money.  There are troops who haven't paid their cookie bill from last year but the council hasn't tried to collect.  Why would I want to give money to a disfunctional council that treats it's staff (both former and current) like garbage??  I will find something better to support and it is sad because it is the girls who get hurt. 
Feb 1, 2011 10:17AM
YES GS COOKIES ARE OUTRAGEOUS NOW. But I will still buy them if it's only 1 box. These sweet little Girl Scouts don't understand WHY you WON'T buy from HER. They are doing something they really believe in and think they are doing something REALLY IMPORTANT and worthy for their Troop. It gives them a sense of " Supporting a Cause & Building Confidence". Although the price is way to much, "I cannot say no to the "LITTLE GIRL" who is working so hard on what she thinks is a Good Cause and Meaningful. They don' realize where the money goes or what it it used for, they just want their Badge or prize. I myself am on a tight budget, but manage to MAKE A GIRL SCOUT SMILE.... 
Feb 1, 2011 2:05AM

I was in girls scouts for two years and while I don't ever recall selling cookies, I had a lot of fun and learned a lot. I would have like to have sold cookies. (I moved away and my new town didn't have a chapter) I think it's a great way for little girls to learn confidence, persuasiveness and how to be outgoing.

Please stop bashing the girls and what they're trying to do!

try and find a positive side!

now having to pick is going to be a whole lot easier!

Feb 1, 2011 1:48AM
Don't send the girls out in January. When does everyone start a diet? JANUARY.  Have them come in May or October. This poor Dad was out with his girls and couldn't even get up to the door before being turned away.
Jan 31, 2011 8:28PM

Everyone needs to relax.  Only 12 of the 112 Girl Scout councils in the country that work with Little Brownie Bakers have chosen to participate in the pilot program that focuses on the six top-selling cookie varieties. No decision has been made by any council or Little Brownie Bakers what cookies will be offered in the future. 


There is also a mistake in the article when it states that cookies are not available for purchase on the web.  Our council does do online sales.


Cookies sold in the 1960's for .50 or the 80's for 2.00, at today's prices would range from 3.46.-4.05 a box.  Seems about what the price is.  Those complaining about the price, don't buy them. 


@Colorado girl, please don't generalize about Council's.  Just because yours may not be functioning, doesn't mean they all are that way.  Have you taken your concerns to the National Level?


@sotired3.  Sounds like a good idea, now if you can just convince everyone else to do the same so that my troop can receive the $800.00 that we did last year, and each girl receive her $50.00 that can be used for camps, uniforms, etc., that would be great.   I remember our school trying the same thing because parents kept complaining about fundraisers and would just rather donate. Unfortunately, they didn't put their money where their mouths were and we were unable to fund the programs we had planned. 


@Lets just be happy.  Yes there is a markup.  In our council, the cost to produce the cookies are .85 a box and they sell for 3.50, a 2.63 markup per box.  Of that 2.37 goes back to the girls in service unit, troop and indivdiual proceeds, and to fund camp and troop programs at a council level.  I guess I can be grateful for a Council who puts the money into the girls and not a council office. 

Jan 31, 2011 5:23PM
Te thing they don't talk about is the fact that the cookies are made by 2 different companies and one is way better then the other. ABC cookies are what my daughter has to sell and these are no where near as good as the other companies cookies. But we can't get those through our council. They should focus more on quality then they do on volume.
Feb 1, 2011 9:00AM
Selling in January has lowered sales for us between New Year's diet resolutions and the weather.   I'm in NJ. I'm not sending my girls out door to door with the weather we've had this month.
Jan 31, 2011 9:50PM
phew...tag-a-longs and thin mints are safe, at least for now
Feb 1, 2011 8:44AM
My daughter was in GS for years. We looked forward to the cookies but not anymore! The quality of the cookies have decreased, $4 a box and half the size is ridiculous! I bought a box of thin mints and I couldn't believe how much was in the box! Half of what it use to be!  Not to mention, all the hard work these young girl put into selling these cookies doesn't really go back to them or their goes to the top, yet doesn't trickle-down! It's sad.
Jan 31, 2011 9:52PM
Does it matter considering the quality and size has drastically?
Feb 1, 2011 11:13AM

I sold cookies many years ago when I was a Scout, but would NOT want my child doing it now. (If I had a daughter -only have a son!)

 Last year, I opened my door to a little Girl Scout, and she stepped right into my living room. NO parent with her. I told her she should never walk into a stranger's house, because of the danger involved. Then I bought cookies and made her promise she would never do it again-even if she was invited "in out of the cold."

If they tell these girls nothing else, they should be WELL trained-even scared if necessary-into staying OUT of strangers' homes.

Feb 1, 2011 10:47AM
I was the cookie mom (dad) for my wifes troop.  1. The mothers and or fathers are supposed to go with the girl to sell the cookies, they are not supposed to let them wander around. 2. The cookie selling was not a problem, the paperwork for the parants was ridiculas.  they had multiple forms that had to be filled out on line, but would not "talk" to each other so there was too much pointless redundance of data entry.  3.  The cookies are better than the ones in  the stores.  Any one who telss you otherwise either is a Walmart stooge or bought really old ones from the GS sale made the year(s) before. 
Jan 31, 2011 6:37PM
hi there my name is wanessa and this is my first year doing girl scouts  so im a caddet 6th grader and i like the one that have peanut butter in the cookies and i love staying in the girl scouts cause i could make a lot of girl friend so everytime i sit somewhere at lunch time no one would sit near me
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