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Did Cap’n Crunch Really Wink At You? Maybe So

Did Cap'n Crunch Really Wink At You? Maybe So

SANATOGA PA – Stroll down the breakfast cereal aisles of the Sanatoga Thriftway or Redner’s Warehouse Market in Lower Pottsgrove – or any grocery you choose, according to researchers at Cornell University – and you’re likely to find the people photographed for or cartoon characters drawn on boxes there are looking right at you.

On purpose.

A study published Wednesday (April 2, 2014) in the Journal of Environment and Behavior reveals that consumers are 16 percent more likely to trust a brand of cereal when characters on the boxes of supermarket shelves look them straight in the eye.

Not surprisingly, then, say authors Brian Wansink and Aner Tal at Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca NY, their study also found that characters on children’s cereal boxes gaze downward at a 9.6-degree angle, so they can look into kids’ eyes. Characters on adult cereal boxes, meanwhile, look almost straight ahead.

Using spokes-characters that make eye contact with children “creates brand loyalty,” Wansink said.

“By studying more than 80 breakfast spokes-characters, we found that kids’ cereals are positioned at the same height as kids, about 23 inches off the floor; and adults’ cereals are positioned at about 48 inches off the floor,” Tal noted, ensuring that the shelving height complements the eye-to-eye connection.

That psychology-based aspect of supermarket marketing represents only one of several sales tools “that impact how and what people purchase,” Tal added.

Infographic from Cornell University

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