On the way into work last week I picked up a pack of caramel wafers to put on the table at a meeting. I ended up in three meetings that week and nobody touched a single biscuit. If you put a plate of bourbons or shortbread out then everyone helps themselves, and so I got thinking… 

Are people more likely to take food if it’s open and thus perishable? Do we see the open biscuits and figure they’re going to waste if we don’t eat them so we’d better just have one? If so, maybe we could use the same psychology to help our colleagues and clients to eat more fruit or drink more water.

We could prepare and plate up some perishable-looking food (diced melon, sliced apple, pineapple chunks, celery sticks, almonds) and our clients would be too kind to let it go to waste and unconsciously munch their way to their five a day. Another good example is table water – in a restaurant the jug of water at the table is almost always emptied as we know if we don’t drink it then it’s only going to end up poured down the drain. Whereas if there was a sealed bottle of water for everyone at the table I’d bet half of them wouldn’t even get opened.

Of course it might just be that nobody else likes caramel wafers (but that would be madness).


Dave King