Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Walmart versus the Girl Scouts

Is it now Walmart versus the Girl Scouts? That's the way it appears as the mega-retailer uses its Great Value private label to go after other brands. This time the accusation is that Walmart has targeted that staple of American snack pleasure--the Girl Scout cookie.

C.V. Harquail, the self-proclaimed "Cookie Mom" for her daughter's Girl Scout troop, sampled two "beta" versions of Great Value products at the recent BlogHer conference in Chicago--a get-together of female bloggers from around the country. She claims to have immediately recognized the taste and texture as those of Thin Mints and Tagalongs, two of the Girl Scouts most popular cookie varieties.

"The exclusivity of Girl Scout cookies is what makes the cookies really sell," Harquail writes. "But now, Walmart is shoving itself in front of these little girls and knocking on your door to sell you their almost-as-good fake Thin Mints and fake Tagalongs, whenever you want them."

The obvious concern is that Girl Scout cookies are a fund-raising mechanism for the organization and the product has long held a distinctive place in the snack market.

In the report, appearing on adage.com, the Girl Scouts of the USA were not quite as pointed in their comments. Michelle Tompkins, spokesperson for the Girl Scouts, said other manufacturers have probably come close to the taste and appearance of the popular cookies. "I would hope that people realize," she said, "that when they buy Girl Scout cookies, they're also helping little girls."

Not surprisingly, Walmart declined to comment on the matter.

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