All posts by Emily Binder

Emily Binder is a marketer who likes good copy, technology, and progress. Hobbies include chess, cooking, and rollerblading. University of Michigan alumna.

Girl Scout Cookies: Millennials Won’t Bite

Innovation is a word that gets thrown around too often. Things have changed since Girl Scouts walked door to door with clipboards and pencils taking down orders that took weeks to process. Girl Scouts and troop leader with cookie sign 1960

Recognized by Fast Company as #10 of The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Not-For-Profit, the Girl Scouts of the USA are keeping up with the times pretty well. But they could do better. The ubiquitous cookies are an obvious opportunity.

Mission: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

Some local councils offer Digital Cookie. Ecommerce skills are important, but not innovative. The @girlscouts Twitter stream is socially conscious and feminist. That’s great too, but not innovative.

girlscouts tweet about STEM

A growing crop of consumers are empowered to vote with their dollars, seeking products backed by social, political, and environmental responsibility. Millennials, the largest living generation at ~83 million, are what Scott Hess aptly calls conscientious consumers. Their annual spending is projected to reach $3.39tn by 2018, eclipsing Boomers. Millennials value health and brand transparency. Post Gen/Gen We (born since 2000) may prove to be even more invested in globalism, wellness, and pro-social companies.

There is a missed opportunity to set a meaningful example about both women in business and simply better business – modern, pro-social, pro-human business.

1) Role models: Thousands of women have created businesses from scratch, namely bakeries that use quality ingredients. Which of these company leaders would make a better role model?:

Karen Herrera of Sugar & Flour Bakery vs. John Bryant, CEO, Kellogg
Left: Karen Herrera, Owner, Sugar & Flour Bakery. Right: John Bryant, CEO, Kellogg

2) Ingredients: The Girl Scouts website advertises: “No hydrogenated oils” (false) and is full of misleading copy about how the cookies are wholesome.

Girl Scout Cookies - no hydrogenated oil claim - Little Brownie Bakers
Little Brownie Bakers: interesting claims

Girl Scouts: Align your flagship activity with your mission to make the world a better place.

RFP the cookie business to socially responsible, natural bakeries. Why support Kellogg in stuffing us full of GMO bleached flour, addictive sugar, and cell-destroying oils? I’d rather buy a Trefoil baked by Karen Herrera’s Sugar & Flour Bakery (Etsy shop turned storefront) in Greendale, WI than worry what BHT and sodium acid pyrophosphate are doing to my body. I’d rather buy Samoas made with whole ingredients by Sara Fitzpatrick’s The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery in Raleigh, NC than a chemical cardboard biscuit shot out of a conveyor belt in the Keebler factory.

Meet consumers’ growing appetite for transparency and social good.

Now, those two small bakeries could not handle the national demand. So look at an innovative, more established company like Hampton Creek, upstart maker of foods that use plant proteins instead of eggs. CEO and social entrepreneur Josh Tetrick founded Hampton Creek because while working and teaching in Sub-Saharan Africa, he noticed serious issues with the global food system. Hampton Creek makes ready-to-bake JustCookies, which are sustainable and natural.

Hampton Creek Just Cookies graphic

Consider two points:
1) JustCookies are sold at Walmart
2) Unilever (owner of Hellman’s Mayonnaise) was threatened enough to sue little Hampton Creek over their JustMayo product

People have begun to care more about what’s in their food, where it comes from, and how it affects the planet.

Organic, natural, sustainable, locally sourced: these are not fringe values or niche buzzwords. Look at the fire drill the fast food and sparkling beverage industries have had in recent years over obesity. People are waking up.

So let’s make the world a better place.

More About Ingredients in Girl Scout Cookies

Tagalongs Nutrition Facts: Ingredients: Peanut Butter (Peanuts, dextrose, peanut oil, salt), sugar, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated palm, palm kernel and/or cottonseed oil, soybean and palm oil...
Tagalongs contain partially hydrogenated oil

ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers, the two bakeries licensed to bake Girl Scout cookies, distribute varieties that contain nefarious ingredients such as partially hydrogenated oil (both) and high fructose corn syrup (ABC). While copywriters address this with the seeming transparency du jour, the deflection is pure marketing. It’s par for the course from Kellogg, the Little Brownie Bakers parent company, known for depicting happy healthy kids on its cereal boxes of sugary junk and currently struggling with declining sales. Fueling a long FAQ page claiming that palm oil is perfectly healthy is the assumption that the original 8-ingredient natural recipe is no longer feasible. Why not?Girl Scout Cookies recipe 1922 - ingredients

Fun Facts – Girl Scouts

  • Founder Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout Troop on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia. (Happy 103rd birthday.)
  • Both varieties of Thin Mints are vegan (but contain partially hydrogenated oil)
  • Troop Beverly Hills, the fictional Wilderness Girls troop from the 1989 movie starring Shelley Long and a young Jenny Lewis, accepted American Express but preferred Visa.
Troop Beverly Hills - It's cookie time dance
Troop Beverly Hills, “It’s Cookie Time” – 1989

 

Troop Beverly Hills - It's Cookie Time

Snapchat Marketing: Doing What?

In the last 1-2 years we’ve seen a trend of complimenting brands who are “rocking” Snapchat and other relatively new one-to-one social messaging apps. (I prefer Allison Steele’s term: attention deficit content creation platforms.)

After 5-10 years of oversharing, narcissism, and selfie culture resulting in enough privacy backlashes, firings, and divorces, many users are crunching inwards toward more private communication. Brands automatically assuming they belong in this new crop of apps is a me-too mistake, the result of too much demand for rapid reaction.

Taco Bell Snapchat screenshot #DoingStuff
Taco Bell uses Snapchat to let fans know about new products.

Where is the data indicating that Taco Bell, McDonald’s, General Electric, Heineken, the New Orleans Saints, 16 Handles, etc. are successful on Snapchat?

Brands on Snapchat hope to reach Millennials (those born in roughly the early 1980s to the early 2000s). Targeting a demo whose childhoods were filled with every-loser-gets-a-trophy-for-showing-up has translated to brands showing up – without even keeping score – being considered winners.
Ladybugs movie soccer

You can’t measure engagement within Snapchat.

A snap can’t benefit from the interaction of a Like, retweet, favorite, or share. Brands get more buzz off the flowery Mashable campaign coverage written by AYSO trophy-saturated writers who continually fail to proofread (a symptom of “A for effort”? – this is too easy). I’ve personally seen brand impressions from articles lauding the “organic/intimate/forward-thinking/risk-taking” efforts of marketers and their agencies for experimentation with Snapchat, Vine, etc. worth more than any fleeting impact the disappearing content may have on consumers. Not only do the messages disappear, the attention span of their target user base is the shortest on the planet.

Resources devoted to Snapchat when your other social ducks are anemic makes good linkbait when we’re all tired of hearing about the reach woes of Facebook and ineffective YouTube pre-roll. Instead of fixing problems on platforms with better tracking, targeting, reach, and content longevity, it’s easier and more fun to make stop motion videos. Now, Snapchat’s 32.9% penetration among 18-34 year-olds should not be ignored. And if you want to reach 18-25 year-olds with exclusive content – things like limited time coupons, flash sales, and behind-the-scenes footage – I see the draw. But where is the yardstick?

Lastly, we all know what Snapchat is for. Do you really want a brand’s snap next to your sext? The proximity alone should cause a panic attack.

Andrew Cunningham at HUGE wrote a nice summary of considerations if you choose to market with Snapchat. I am not saying avoid it: I’m saying stop handing out trophies for showing up at try-outs.

About Snapchat:

It’s a mobile messaging app that allows users to share photos and videos that disappear after a short time once the recipient opens the message (after 1-10 seconds or 24 hours for Stories). As of July 2014, users were sending 700 million photo messages each day, up from 400 million in October 2013.
Source: statista.com

Reduce Commerce Friction: Travel and Hospitality

Remove friction from the customer experience, make the sale more likely. We are seeing a trend in travel and hospitality to make transactions and guest experiences hassle-free, higher tech, and less reliant upon hard copies and hard people. Make mobile device use free, experience-enhancing, and rewarding, and incremental revenue-generating for vendors – stay in business.

Travel and hospitality companies that don’t prioritize automation and mobility won’t be here in five years.

You can already see the market for a frictionless, more seamless guest experience in the successful offerings of progressive car rental companies like Silvercarairlines like SurfAirPorter, and Virgin, hotel chains like IHG with the health-themed, wristband-based EVEN Hotels, Marriott with Moxy, etc. Reduce check-in time, reduce waits, reduce error-prone interactions with agents. Move the printed rental contract to the cloud. Take a snooty or busy or bribed human concierge and replace them with an app. Develop culturally sensitive sub-brands focused on different market needs and smarter guest profiling. The obvious fixes abound.
Silvercar homepage screenshot
While I loathe both of these resorts, I should touch on theme parks: Disney and SeaWorld are handling the trend well.
 Disney MagicBand family
Disney World’s MyMagic+ is a billion-dollar tech project that includes hotel and resort-wide WiFi and microchip-embedded wristbands that interact with sensors throughout the park and link to a reservation system to book attractions weeks in advance. Disney’s MagicBands use radio frequency (RF) technology, replacing theme park tickets and hotel room keys with tap and pay technology. MagicBands and Apple Watch (coming early 2015) both remove commerce friction, i.e., the hassle of getting a phone out of a pocket to tap and pay.

SeaWorld’s 7/15/14 app update incorporated a new mobile payments system. Now guests can use the app to pay for gifts, food, and Quick Queue access at the ride instead of paying in advance via desktop or at the front of the park.

SeaWorld iPhone app

But isn’t disconnecting important?

One could argue that the onslaught of offerings like free WiFi and charging stations at amusement parks and resorts only perpetuates the always-on, distracted state of mind from which a true vacation should provide escape, particularly when with family. If you really want a relaxing unplugged escape, however, you shouldn’t be at Disney or SeaWorld. If a parent uses a theme park’s free WiFi and app to decrease time spent waiting in line, to augment reality and amuse the kids, or to enhance the experience by hashtagging an Instagram photo to get a free Lego toy upon exit, everyone wins (guests, park, and brand). Not to mention that having instant communication via mobile can make a family trip more manageable and efficient – as long as you can find a convenient charging station.
What traditional airlines are doing for connectivity – further reading:

 

Social Engagement Summit

The Social Engagement Summit is the premier conference dedicated to highlighting the reasons and benefits companies should embrace proactive or reactive engagements on social media.

Photos and event summary here: The Social Engagement Summit
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Topic: How can we bring direct marketing practices to social media to drive real business results?
Panel at the Social Engagement Summit
Our panel

Discussion: Extending email marketing and marketing automation strategies into the social realm to create personalization at scale.

Panel:
Emily Binder of Budget Rent-a-Car
Brent Ducote of Insightpool
Ed Peterson of YP
Ashley Sassnet of Suntrust