how the brand extension cookie crumbles

There’s a great marketing lesson to be gleaned from recent news about Girl Scout cookies.

Samoa Girl Scout CookieThe Girl Scouts have announced they are downsizing the varieties of cookies they sell to just six flavors. They’ll now just offer Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, Samoas, Lemon Chalet Cremes, and Tagalongs.

Why are they doing this? When they looked at the numbers, they saw that just five varieties made up a whopping 77% of total cookie sales.

Girl Scout cookies had been a victim of something that happens to alot of successful brands. They had become bloated with brand extensions. They had over 25 options which meant 20 flavors of cookies just sat there with minimal sales. They had ridden the trend of moment rather that focusing on the core brand by launching cookie flavors geared toward certain demographic groups or healthier options with sugar-free or trans-fat options.

They’re cookies. Cookies are not supposed to be healthy.

Companies can get lost by offering too many brand extensions. A decision to branch out to new products must be considered carefully. While new product offerings can help, it can also dilute the brand. Brands must know what their core brand is all about. When your brand is considering product extensions that don’t fit that mold of the core brand values, you must either make the (major) decision to change the core values of the brand or reject the new offering as something that doesn’t fit.

Had some brands made that simple decision, we would never have seen silly gimmick-of-the-moment flops like McDonald’s Arch Deluxe, Bic Pantyhose, Coors Spring Water, Taco Bell Burgers, Virgin Cola, and more.

It comes down to knowing what your brand represents — and using that perception to your advantage.

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