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For the past century, “Be Prepared” has served as the unfailing motto of the Girl Scouts of America. Over the past term, a marketing class at Nichols has been devoting its resources to helping the Girl Scouts of Connecticut better prepare for the future.
Along the way, the students—all seniors majoring or minoring in marketing—have gotten a real-world, real-time education in marketing research and consulting.
“We’re doing a property study,” says the Connecticut organization’s Chief Operating Officer Margaret Hansen-Kaplan, who explains that the group is looking to downsize the number of its camps and offices. The merging of five Girl Scout councils around the state several years ago created too many properties to manage effectively and economically, she adds.
“We don’t need as many, so we want to find out which—in our best interests—are the ones to monetize, to keep, or to keep and develop further,” continues Hansen-Kaplan. With that goal in mind, she made an October visit to the Marketing Research class taught by Nichols Professor Len Harmon.
“The appeal for us is that we are actually making decisions that inform the decision-making of an outside organization,” says Harmon, who adds that his students have maintained a consultant-client relationship throughout the term with the Hartford, Connecticut-based organization.
“They were very interested in what we were talking about,” she says of the Nichols seniors. “They asked really thoughtful questions, took notes, and showed a lot of depth in dealing with the information we gave them.”
As part of the semester-long class project, Harmon’s class has conducted literature reviews of non-profit organizations that own land and researched Girl Scout chapters that have restructured their operations in other states.
The seniors also developed their own data-gathering instruments, such as focus groups, and analyzed the data they had assembled. “They also are able to understand how to manage a project and report on their progress,” Harmon points out. “That’s what they’ll have to do in the workplace.”
The Girl Scouts’ Hansen-Kaplan says that she’s been impressed with the capabilities of that the marketing students have already. “I thought they were very professional,” she reports.
Last year—the first for the Marketing Research course—the class conducted research for the Nichols Graduate and Professional Studies program and the Career Services office.