Can store brands skip to the Girl Scouts beat?

October 23, 2012

The repackaging of Girl Scout Cookies shows the power of a worthy cause, shown prominently.

The Girl Scouts of the USA have just laid out an impressive lesson in private-label packaging for supermarkets.

This wasn’t their intention, of course. But The Lempert Report sees it this way.

In the first major packaging revamp of Girl Scout Cookies since 1999, the $790 million (annual sales) brand puts its cause front and center. It showcases the five financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills that the Girl Scout Cookie Program teaches girls—namely goal setting, decision-making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.

“We want people to know with each purchase of Girl Scout Cookies…they are helping girls to be future business leaders and to make a difference in their communities,” says GSUSA chief executive officer Anna Maria Chavez.

We believe the message will resonate with customers because people realize more today than ever that girls will grow into women who will bear increasing financial responsibilities for their families, households, workplaces and neighborhoods. The past few years especially have made more women the chief earners where they live. This is a well-timed message for Girl Scouts.

In this initiative, we see a way for retailers to differentiate their private labels by aligning them—and their packages—with worthy causes. PL brand managers will have to walk a fine line between the brand and the cause to avoid appearing opportunistic and insincere. But the high margins in PL would give retailers room to be generous. And they won’t have to look hard to find candidate partners with merit—disease charities and food banks among them.  

By connecting to local causes, we feel retailers will light the greatest emotional response from shoppers. Consider areas decimated by floods or other natural disasters, or with a high incidence of cancer, or where a factory shut down and unemployment is high. People will know they’re helping neighbors when they buy the package.

Kudos to Girl Scouts and Anthem Worldwide for branding cookie packages with the organization’s underlying values. It’s a sweet idea. Perhaps they won’t mind if supermarkets “tag along” on the premise.