This blog post is a summary of a post project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS), a Girl Scout market research consultant located in Syracuse, NY.
Background: A regional Girl Scouts organization was seeking to commission market research focused on the use and potential use of its camps and service centers. The market research was designed to guide recommendations regarding current and future properties including service centers, program centers and camps, while first and foremost supporting the needs and interests of the girls served. Secondly, the market research was designed to address the needs of adult volunteers, parents, donors and community partners.
Approach: In order to provide the Girl Scouts with the most comprehensive assessment of the objectives at hand, RMS recommended three different methodologies (components) to reach each of the three audiences. The market research components were custom-designed to address three specific audiences: (1) girls and parents; (2) adult volunteers; and (3) non-member girls (community at large).
- Girls and Parents – Component 1: Mail survey (with an online survey option) to 4,000 current Girl Scout households. The survey was targeted to parents to complete with their Girl Scout daughter. RMS obtained results proportionate to the population of Girl Scouts in the 26-county jurisdictions. The survey addressed use and opinion of facilities, interest in a variety of program topics and decision-making criteria used in selecting activities to participate in.
- Adult Volunteers – Component 2: Twelve- to 15-minute telephone survey with a concentration on troop leaders, but included interviews with other adult volunteers. RMS obtained 100 completes for this audience. Completes were proportioned among volunteers associated with various outdoor program facilities and service centers. It ensured RMS obtained feedback from adult volunteers in all market areas for Girl Scouts.
- Non-Member Girls (Community-at-Large) – Component 3: Focus group style community discussion groups with non-member Girl Scouts and their parents. RMS recommended four groups across the service area. The RMS team held discussions with eligible girls and their parents regarding the Girl Scout program. The groups were split so that two are set to recruit participants from more rural areas and two from a more urban setting. Additionally, the groups were split by age groups – those with girls in second through fifth grades and those in sixth through eighth grades. This allowed RMS to examine geographical and age differences in recruiting new members to Girl Scouts.
The RMS team engaged the Girl Scouts team at the beginning of the research process, using a kickoff meeting to confirm the critical needs being sought. Once all components of the market research were completed, RMS created a final PowerPoint report, which summarized the findings of the surveys and focus groups. RMS and the Girl Scout team reviewed a draft report together. This discussion guided the creation of a final report. RMS also gave the management team recommendations to assist the council in their decision-making. This market research directed by RMS provided the Girl Scouts with the critical feedback and information needed to better serve the need of current members, attract new members and guide long-range property planning solutions.
Results: Below is a quick summary of themes from the market research presentation. Each component of the project received its own dedicated report.
- Theme 1: Older, non-member girls have an image that Girl Scouts is boring, uninteresting and unpopular.
- Theme 2: There is a clear dividing line of interest in Girl Scouts among girls in fifth grade and below compared to girls in sixth grade and above.
- Theme 3: Current Girl Scout activity areas can be aligned with what Girl Scouts want, what troop leaders/adult volunteers want to offer and what non-member girls are looking for; however, there are barriers to executing these activities.
- Theme 4: There are evident concerns around support and a lack of available troops/troop leaders. This does not allow some girls to participate at all, while others do not feel they are getting what is perceived to be a full experience.
- Theme 5: Girls have more choices for after-school activities nowadays and as a result are busier than ever before. They are looking for new experiences and opportunities they cannot get elsewhere.
- Theme 6: Girls are interested in and/or want to go camping.
- Theme 7: Users are satisfied with the overall camp experiences offered at the Girl Scout affiliated camp locations.
- Theme 8: A Girl Scout having a network of friends within their troop is essential to satisfaction and fulfillment with Girl Scouts.
- Theme 9: Paperwork and required training are seen as barriers for troop leaders, adult volunteers and parents with regards to limiting opportunities for Girl Scouts.
- Theme 10: Troop Leaders/Adult Volunteers cited a lack of communication and support from the Girl Scouts Council.
- Theme 11: There is a lack of awareness and usage of Girl Scout camp locations, service centers and stores. There is also a general lack of awareness of Girl Scouts at a local level.
- Theme 12: Property findings:
Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts are very interested in the outdoors and having a camping experience, which is one of the most common appealing activities as listed by Girl Scouts and girls.
Currently, the council owns nine camps (eight available for use) within its jurisdiction to meet needs.
The majority of girls do not go camping or only go one time per year. Reasons for not camping include money, time, volunteers/leaders, paperwork and parents drive time.
Girls attending the camp locations liked all nine facilities, no single facility stood out from the rest. They want an outdoor experience and camping ratings are tied to the outdoor setting at the camp, program activities offered at the camp and the sleeping arrangements.
Typical parent drive time to each camp is one hour (60 minutes). On average, parents stated they are not willing to drive more than two hours for any single type of Girl Scout activity including a daytime/evening activity, one night/sleep away or week-long camp.
Focus Girl Scout store item purchases online to reduce the need to visit a Girl Scout store.
Many parents and troop leaders/adult volunteers do not use the service centers regularly.
For more information about this particular Girl Scouts market research or questions about how Research & Marketing Strategies can help your council, contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker, at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling (315) 635-9802.