Month: August 2014

4 Things I took away from NextConnect and how it could affect Popcorn Sales

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parent_child_portrait_2964This August, I was fortunate enough to attend NextConnect ’14, the National Marketing Summit for the Boy Scouts of America.  The majority of the conference discussed ‘Millennial Moms’ defined as women born between 1977 and 1995.  This group is currently between 18-36 years old.  It is important to look at the research of this group as they will be the moms of new boys entering the Scouting program over the next 10 years.

Many of the items presented were not a surprise.

  • Millennials are much more comfortable with technology. As a matter of fact, their cell phone is no more than 3 feet away from them at any time. Their entire household calendar is at their fingertips on their phone.
  • Millennials are ‘less trusting’ than previous generations. They are bombarded with more advertising than at any time in history. In addition, their opinion of government falls in this ‘less trusting’ category. As a matter of fact, 50% of Millennials consider themselves ‘Politically Independent’ and 29% say they are not affiliated with any religion. These are the highest numbers of any generation in history.
  • Millennials in the United States are more racially and culturally diverse than at any time in history and this trend will continue in the future.
  • Millennials are more likely to have a tattoo than any generation before them
  • Millennials ‘share’ the same song playlist with their children. All previous generations seemed to correlate to a particular musical style or genre.
  • Millennials are image-centric as they take more photos on their phone. As a matter of fact, Polaroid states more photos were taken in 2013 than all of recorded history…combined. Bring on the selfie.

However, there are several items I found particularly interesting:

1.  Only 26% of Millennials are Married

Millennials grew up in an era where 60% of families were two-parent households.  This traditional family model of the past is going away.  No longer do we have the mom, dad, 2.2 kids, dog, cat, goldfish and white picket fence which Scouting liked to portray.  Now, the majority of families in the United States are of the ‘extended’ variety.  There are grandparents, ex-spouses, siblings and others who help raise the child.

Volunteers to help Scouts sell popcorn are not just the parent.  They often consist of members of the extended family.  However, the challenge of not having the extended family could be the exact reason the single parent is looking for Scouting.  They need help. More often than I would like, I hear at a recruitment night the adult leader saying to single parents, “We can make accommodations for your family” instead of having a program built for them.

2.  40% of Millennial Moms are the primary bread-winner in the household.

The recession starting in 2008-2009 took a much larger toll on men than women.  80% of the job loss during this recession was male.  Now factor in only 26% are married and you can see the challenges on the current Millennial Mom.

In addition, the vast number of women who are the primary bread-winner in the household have been in this role for 5 years or more.  Household income for this group is not increasing anytime soon.  As a matter of fact, as the parent approaches 40, Household income remains fairly flat over a 5 year period, but expenses continue to rise as children get older.

Millennials are the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same age.

There is an absolute need for fundraisers for this demographic. However, there is another aspect to consider…time.

3.  Time is a premium to Millennials Moms.

As a woman nears 30, expenses and demands on time increase dramatically as work obligations, marriage, and parenting all convene at once into her life.  Because of this, Millennial Moms no longer believe in the idea of the ‘Super Mom’ and do not even attempt to try.

In the 80s and 90s, most youth who were in Boy Scouts were also in activities such as sports, band, or other school activity.  Lack of time forces a parent in the modern household to make a boy choose only one activity.  There is more competition than ever before.

Technology is the key for the Millennial to manage their household.  To save time, communication to the Millennial Mom must be made through their preferred communication channel and viewable on their smart phone.  In addition, Millennials communicate to their sons with the use of technology more than any generation.

When it comes to fundraisers, Millennial Moms want to spend as little time as possible raising money.  This may be the reason for the recent popularity of Show and Sell.  It is not because they do not want to go door-to-door with their son; it is because they do not have the time to do it during the week.  They only have ‘so much time’ available and if given the option of being at a storefront with a set start and finish and going door-to-door with no set parameters, Millennial Moms will choose the activity with a set time allotted.  They do this because it is allows them to schedule other activities on the weekend.

To convince Millennial Moms to do more door-to-door sales, they must be shown the higher return per hour of doing this versus Show and Sell. Because of this Units need to organize more coordinated door-to-door sale activities like Blitz Days where the whole Unit goes out to sell door-to-door.

4.  Parents want their child to be “happy”

A parent may read this and say, “Of course.  All parents want their children to be happy.”  The difference is the choices Millennial Moms make to achieve a ‘happy child’.

Because of the lack of time in a single parent household, a Millennial Parent wants to have fun with their child.  If the activity is not fun for their child, they will not do it.  As a matter of fact, a Millennial Mom is more likely to go out to a fun activity with their child than have their child do chores.  Millennials believe there is only one time to ‘get it right’ with their child and want no regrets about the way they raised their child.  They are looking for those unique experiences Scouting offers but most of the time they are not aware of them.

From a popcorn sales point of view, it is vital to link fundraising to an activity Millennials will have with their son.  Popcorn is just a means to a fun-filled adventure.  It helps if the fundraising activity is fun as well.  Have your Unit Kickoffs be the launch to the great adventure they have with their son.

Our society is changing and the Boy Scouts of America must change with it.  Change is easiest at the Unit level.  I hope this article helps Units understand the needs and expectations Millennials have.  Here are some items to take away:

  • Communicate the adventure – Have a planned calendar with lots of things to do for parent and son
  • Make fundraising fun – Have a fun Unit Kickoff and hold more coordinated Blitz Days with your Unit
  • Use technology to communicate to Millennials in the way they want to receive the information
  • Respect the time Millennials have available to them and make it as easy as possible to participate in the popcorn sale

Have fun and good luck.


How Much of What Type of Popcorn Should We Order for Show and Sell

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sales_transaction_colored_6641I am back from a recent break traveling around the country.  One question I was asked over and over again was “How much of what type of popcorn should I order?”  Before I answer this question, let’s look at factors which may affect how much you should order.

1.  Council Return Policy – This is the number one factor when determining the items you order for Show and Sell.  Many councils around the country place restrictions on returns.  Some do not allow any returns on chocolate or large variety boxes/tins.  In addition, some councils only allow returns in full cases.  This may help make the decision on whether to order that extra case of product.  In this scenario, it is better to sell out and ask for more than to over order and be penalized for returning your product.  Make sure you understand your council’s return policy.  I recommend only ordering chocolate or large variety boxes/tins if you already have a pre-order for the item.

2.  New products – For the many years I have been involved with popcorn, every year there is a new product or packaging which is released.  Every year I see units over order new product.  The challenge is there is no precedent on how much consumers will purchase.  I recommend reducing any new product to just one case or not ordering any new product for Show and Sell.

3.  How many Show and Sell hours are you planning to sell – Around the country, the average unit sells $100/hour at a Show and Sell location.  This can fluctuate depending on the part of the country you live, the product you are selling and the experience level of the Scouts who are selling.  Ask units in your district how much they sell on average per hour.  Use the guideline of $100/hour and adjust accordingly for your area.
After reviewing Units around the country for many years, the percentage of a particular type of popcorn has not changed much.

Here is a breakdown of average Show and Sell orders last year in containers over the last three years:

Chart 1

Here is a breakdown of total sales over the last three years in containers:

Chart 2

Once again these numbers are by container. The number of containers per case has changed for various products over the last several years.  Doing the evaluation by containers is the only way to compare ‘apples to apples’.  If you noticed Military Orders are not listed in Show and Sell Orders even though this is where this money is often collected.  The reason is because money collected for Military Orders are not placed into the system until the Take Order.

Use these numbers only as a guideline.  Because of the number of containers per case and range of products offered in each council, it is unlikely your unit will get to these exact numbers.  However, I hope this will serve as a starting point when placing your Show and Sell Order.