Which Christmas cookie do you like best? Most of us find the opportunity to give our opinion irresistible – a friend posted this question on Facebook just 12 hours ago, and already 75 people have weighed in on the issue. And he didn’t even specify who made the cookies, or why he wanted to know.

Customers vote with their dollars when making purchase decisions, but they also love to be asked for their opinions about other issues. Polls provide a wonderful opportunity to engage with your customers on a personal basis, and to show that you place value on what they are thinking.

You could use social media such as Facebook ask your followers to weigh in on which of two new lines you should bring in, or which color of an item they like best. Facebook even has a specific app called Polls for Pages that you can use.

We have recently conducted a poll in the store to ask customers which of three kringle from Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe in Green Bay we should bring in for delivery on our annual “Kringle” Day right before Christmas. We’ve always carried Sea Salt Caramel Pecan, which won the North American Kringle Competition we sponsored in honor of the debut of my book about Danish food. We had already decided to add Door County Cherry this year, but Uncle Mike’s sent us three more flavors: Cranberry Pecan, Brandy Old Fashioned, and Caramel Apple.

At our recent holiday open house we lined up taste samples of the three contenders, with a simple paper ballot next to the plates. Our customers took the voting very seriously, sampling all three and talking it over before casting their votes. Many of them mentioned wanting to preorder kringle based on their experience.

Which kringle won? It was a tie between the Cranberry Pecan and Brandy Old Fashioned. We decided to go with Brandy Old Fashioned, and know from asking our customers’ opinion that it will be a popular option this holiday season.

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder