Global Marketing

Girl Scout Cookies… It’s All About Relationship Marketing

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I walked into my office Monday morning and much to my surprise there was a box of Girl Scout cookies on my desk.  ‘Tis the season I thought, in anticipation of being flooded with order forms from co-workers, family and friends.  I began to wonder what makes them so popular and how have they stood the test of time?

Girl Scout cookies were first sold by the Mistletoe troop of Oklahoma in 1917!  This bit of trivia shocked me until it dawned on me that this is a great example of relationship marketing.  After all, who could resist these cute girls with pigtails and freckles peddling delicious cookies?

It takes a brave young soul to go up to perfect strangers outside a supermarket, smile a big toothless smile, and ask if they want to buy any cookies.  Only to face rejection time and time again.  My next thought was what makes these girls want to sell Girl Scout cookies?  Not ever being a Girl Scout myself I was inspired to do a bit of research and discovered that Girl Scouts of the USA actually do an amazing job marketing their organization to women of all ages, not just young girls.  Adult women can be part of the Girl Scouts and have the opportunity to support, coach, and mentor young girls so they develop critical life long skills.

But back to the tasty morsels… Take a look at the screen shot below from the website.  Who wouldn’t want to be like those girls kickin’ it in their cool vest and chill t-shirt?  But they also speak of lifetime skills like decision-making, money management, people skills, and self-confidence.  Skills everyone needs to be a successful productive adult.  Girls who sell the Girl Scout cookies also have the opportunity to go on trips to the capitol, learn to Kayak, or give back to the community by working in a community kitchen.

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 Next I wondered, what famous women were Girl Scouts?  Is there evidence that this marketing strategy actually translates to real-life examples?  A quick Google search of famous Girl Scouts lead me to an amazing list of individuals.  Just to give you a flavor of the list… 11 President’s wives from Edith Wilson to our current first lady Michelle Obama, 14 Astronauts, a retired Army General, Barbara Walters, (and here’s the kicker) Debbie Fields, Founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies!

So the next time your annoying co-worker or neighbor comes running over shaking the Girl Scout cookie order form remember that you might be supporting the founder of the next Apple or President of the United States.

Global Marketing

REI Invests in Targeted Marketing Campaign… In Store and Out

REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) was named most respected brand in the private company category by branding and advertising firm GreenRubino in 2011.  So how does this iconic outdoor retailer invest in marketing to support their success?

In 2011 REI spent approximately $60M to support their $1.8B business.  To put this in perspective, they spent 3% of their sales on advertising to drive an 8% growth in sales compared to one of their competitors who spent 8% of their sales on advertising to drive a 5% growth in sales.  REI’s marketing dollars are aimed toward supporting their catalog distribution and their social media campaign.  REI puts a lot of stock in their Facebook and Twitter relationships as well as their educational videos on YouTube, known as ‘REI Expert Advice.’  These simple short videos, which can reach millions of people, help foster a relationship with the consumer by sharing tips on topics from the basics of paddle boarding to how to teach your child to ride a bike.

REI doesn’t just market their brand through traditional market techniques that appear on their income statement.  Shopping with REI is very experiential–from the knowledge of their employees to their store design and layout.  They invest a disproportionate amount of time on training and focusing on employees, as compared to other retailers, to ensure that if you want to know which sleeping bag is best for camping in Yosemite in November or the best secret camp sites in the Sierra Nevada’s… the sales person will know the answer.  Their store designs and layouts also offer terrain to test out hiking boots and, in some locations, a rain tunnel to test the latest waterproof gear.  For REI it’s all about the experience and they rely on positive customer experience to build generational customer relationships.

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 3.03.38 PMAnother  example of REI’s relationship marketing is their ‘REI ADVENTURES’.  REI provides travel arrangements and packages to bring fellow outdoor enthusiasts together to enjoy what they love.  Pictured here is an example of one of REI’s adventure packages.

Bottom line,: REI spends their marketing dollars in all the right places.  They seem to have mastered how best to market their brand and created their desired customer experience in all that they do.