A new study from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and Yale University finds that the characters on cereal boxes are designed to look the shoppers they’re marketed to in the eye — and when the characters appear to make eye contact, people are more likely to say they like the cereal and feel a connection to its brand. Food writer Jenn Harris reports:
The researchers evaluated 65 types of cereal and 86 different box characters from 10 grocery stores in New York and Connecticut. Each character was analyzed by the angle of its gaze, 4 feet from the shelf. This is thought to be the standard distance shoppers stand from shelves.
They found characters on boxes marketed to children made eye contact with kids at a downward angle, while boxes marketed to adults made eye contact with adult shoppers at a straight or slightly upward angle. Boxes geared toward children were placed on bottom shelves and those for adults were put on the top shelves.
"Findings show that brand trust was 16% higher and the feeling of connection to the brand was 28% higher when the rabbit made eye contact," the researchers wrote. "Furthermore, participants indicated liking Trix better, compared to another cereal, when the rabbit made eye contact." Here’s more on the study from the Cornell team.
Video: Cornell marketing professor Brian Wansink, via YouTube