Cereal box psychology

Have you ever noticed the downward gaze of the Trix cereal rabbit?

Turns out, the positioning of that silly rabbit’s eyes is intentional.

Cornell Food and Brand Lab Researchers looked at cereals marketed to kids and adults and compared their positioning on shelves and the gaze of the cereal spokes-characters.

Researchers found cereals marketed to kids are placed half as high on store shelves as adult cereals – 23 inches versus 48 inches.

They also discovered that the average angle of the spokes-character’s gaze on cereal boxes marketed to kids is downward at a 9.6 degree angle, while the gaze on adult cereal boxes is almost straight ahead.

Based on the shelf placement – kids cereals are typically on the bottom two shelves, adult cereals are on the top two shelves – and character gazes, the researchers found that the spokes-characters of both adult and children cereals make incidental eye contact with their target shoppers.

In a second study, the researchers found people are more trusting of brands that have characters making eye contact.

The researchers provided two take-aways from the study:

  1. If you are a parent who does not want your kids to go “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” avoid taking them down the cereal aisle.
  2. If you are a cereal company looking to market healthy cereals to kids, use spokes-characters that make eye contact with children to create brand loyalty.
Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

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