Using SAS to Help Girl Scouts Grow Cookie Sales!


Motivating students is one of the major challenges teachers and student advocates face on a daily basis and encouraging students to be interested in analytics is a whole other mountain to climb, or is it?

What motivates students? Often we make assumptions that students are not motivated or are not interested in being engaged actively in school but this could not be further than the truth. Students want to be engaged in class, they do want to be challenged and creating an environment where they feel it is okay to learn and fail. That also is true in any extracurricular activity as well.

So how can we do this with data? The key is relevance. I had the privilege to be part of the Academic Summit at SAS Global conference in 2015 and heard a great speech by Melissa Marshall and she showed a great graphic of the concept I have been talking about for years.

Using SAS to Help Girl Scouts

When students can find the relevance or can associate with the concepts, then you are able to bring excitement to almost any concept. With data, this is easy! Data is a part of our everyday patterns and students participate in regular data collection even though they may not be aware.

In thinking how we could empower students not only in the classroom but in extracurricular activities, my thoughts went to the Girl Scouts. As a former Girl Scout myself, I remembered the journey of selling cookies and thought showing how we can increase cookie sales among the older girls? And our work with the Hornets Nest Council in Charlotte, NC began!

The Girl Scouts are a group of 2.6 million strong—1.8 million girls and 800,000 adults who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to change the world.

One such opportunity is through the national cookie sales program, Cookie University. The work through the Cookie University program leads the development of the next generation of entrepreneurs who are prepared to make a difference in the evolving realm of business. An important part of being a savvy entrepreneur is to understand your customers and products.

Which means to understand your data! And so our goal was to start the conversation and begin learning how analyzing data could help them grow their cookie sales.

So with a team of SAS experts, Marketing Mentors and Girl Scouts we began our work together to analyze data sets from previous year’s campaigns. After reviewing key numbers, the girls understood the importance of past trends in building a sales and marketing plan for future sales.

SAS provides a platform to analyze lots of data and analyze quickly. In addition the skill set of learning data programming is an essential skill for our jobs of the future. The platform also provides the framework for students to work through the process of questioning, critical thinking and trial and error. In addition, the data provided was messy and by using SAS programming, we were able to strategically group and analyze information needed.

Our results packed a powerful punch and opened a new dialogue on how to really make a change in the process of selling cookies.

One insight reflected how cookie orders were being obtained. The traditional method of collecting cookie orders is by pencil and paper, using the order form. While this is effective and provides a personal connection, it can be limiting on the spread of sale.  In 2015 the National Girl Scouts launched a mobile option for selling called Digital Cookie. However, from our results we found that even with the launch of the app, 98% sales still went through the pencil/paper method in the 2015/2016 selling cycle.

The girls saw an opportunity to leverage digital apps more and use social media to promote sales. They decided to use it as a segue to maximize sales of the most popular cookie, Thin Mints. From our analysis we learned there were 8,512 units sold in 2015. Knowing that the Thin Mint is the most popular cookie is good but understanding the power of the number launched a discussion of new ways in which to use the Thin Mint as a jumping ground. The girls came up with ideas for recipes, as appetizers, staging on social media and to partner with a local charity that if you buy one and donate one it goes to the local kid charity. The wheels were turning!

We also explored individual cookie sales. This is where the analysis was a little tricky because of replicated data.  We used SAS code to group the girls by last name and then summarize. Once we were able to group we found that on average each girl in the Hornet’s Nest region sold about 6 boxes of cookies. In perspective that is a bit low! And the girls were surprised.  They thought they sold more, so they created a goal for each of their troops. Each girl will sell at least 5 more boxes.

Exploring the data created a new realm of knowledge and set a plan in motion for the upcoming cookie selling season. For more ideas, take a look through my book, A Recipe for Success with SAS University Edition; How to Plan Your First Analytics Project; the girls showed you are n ever too young to start utilizing the Power of SAS!


About Author

Sharon Jones

Instructor, Central Piedmont Community College

Sharon Jones, Ed.D, is a faculty member at Central Piedmont Community college in Charlotte, NC, where she leads and continues to develop the SAS curriculum in the Continuing and Corporate Education department. Dr. Jones has been in education for 13 years as a Career and Technical Education teacher in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, the Wake County Schools, and as an industry trainer. She has taught courses in computer programming, web design, ecommerce, computer science principles, and SAS programming. She has also presented and been published nationally and internationally on SAS and on integrating technology tools in the classroom.

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