The first piece of cake

I was discussing with a café owner the importance of ensuring that one slice is always removed before his staff place a cake in the display cabinet. He was aware of the difference this makes to orders of cake slices but hadn’t shared this tip with most of his staff.

This isn’t something that can be assumed. It should be explained to staff that the first piece needs to be removed before putting the cake on display and can be returned to the display once another slice is sold.

Why? Because people seem to be reluctant to buy until they know someone else has done so.

It’s similar to some research reported in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services a while back.

In a study researchers set up 2 stacks of cans in a supermarket. One stack was always complete and the other had a can missing. Out of 645 product choices 75% came from a stack with a can missing.

The behavioural principle behind this decision making is Social Proof – One of Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of influence and persuasion. Unconsciously people are drawn to give preference to a stack that has one missing. This is because the gap gives the message that others prefer this brand.

Source: Prompted by an article in Mountainview Learning UK’s newsletter.

Visual courtesy of Shutterstock

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at Alternatively, email