What Girl Scout Cookies Can Teach Us About Brand Affinity

For generations, Girl Scout cookies and the troops that sell them have relied on traditional marketing efforts, like door-to-door sales and word of mouth. And now, as the organization expands online with an ecommerce platform, the group is embracing newer sales channels as well. This shift is interesting, but what I find most notable is how it’s happening.

This year, Dell and Visa have teamed up with the Girl Scouts of the USA, pledging an estimated $3 million to help improve the digital cookie sales platform. These big brands have also volunteered hours to host workshops about math and technology. So not only are Visa and Dell helping the Girl Scouts drive sales, but they're also making a concerted effort to empower women to tap into the technology and entrepreneurial industries.

Dell and Visa are part of a larger value-based marketing movement that is happening today. As an alternative to the targeted ads and emails we are constantly being exposed to, mindful companies are breaking through the noise with personalized marketing that matters to consumers. Although brands of their size often find it difficult to reach and engage individual shoppers, Dell and Visa have connected with a local organization to reach consumers where it matters most — their own communities. Despite the highly competitive and overcrowded nature of commerce, Dell and Visa are investing in value-based marketing (allocating ad spends to grassroots efforts) and personally reaching new consumers by doing good. For the marketing industry at large, this shift away from traditional media channels teaches us three important lessons:



1. Reach people at the right time and place

Due to the number of brands and the immense noise they create, moving forward, brands must be better about connecting with consumers where they live, research and purchase. For many shoppers, this is not on traditional media channels, but rather at the local level of grassroots organizations and communities.

2. No business is too big to connect

Although some brands may find it difficult to engage shoppers on an individual level, no brand is too big to connect via value-based marketing. Whether donating equipment to a local sports team, sponsoring a community event, or providing volunteers and services to a neighborhood club, every brand can find a way to personalize their relationships with individual consumers or communities at scale.

3. Doing good really does make a difference

Simply put, doing good matters. In the same way I remember when a person is kind or helpful, consumers take note of and respond to conscientious companies. Unlike traditional media channels and marketing strategies that can come across as too forced and sales focused, value-based marketing give big brands the opportunity to build affinity with shoppers by investing in the communities and organizations they care about. 

I expect Dell and Visa are going to experience major success through marketing to an organization that is rooted in local communities. As a result of investing at the local level both financially and educationally, there is no doubt the companies will increase brand affinity and foster long-term, positive relationships with shoppers. To me, Dell and Visa are exciting examples of where value-based marketing is headed, as well as how brands can increase the ROI of their marketing strategies with out-of-the-box approaches.

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