Are Eyes Staring At You? If You're in The Cereal Aisle, Yes

This is kind of spooky, but if you think eyes in the cereal aisle are following you, you may be right.

A new study has found that consumers are 16 percent more likely "to trust a brand of cereal when the characters on the boxes on the supermarket shelves look them straight in the eye," according to Not surprisingly, the study also found that the gaze of characters on children’s cereal boxes is at a downward, 9.6-degree angle, while characters on adult cereal boxes look almost straight ahead.

The Web site quotes on expert who says, "If you are a parent who does not want your kids to go ‘cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs,’ avoid taking them down the cereal aisle. 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.”

Another expert says, “There are some cool things happening in grocery stores, many based on psychology, that have an impact on how and what people purchase. 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 adult’s cereals are positioned at about 48 inches off of the floor.”

Supermarkets are getting smarter and smarter about how to position products so we're more likely to buy them. Not only are stores getting hip to appeal to kids but they've also created “man aisles,”, where products aimed at men—lighter fluid, beer, cheese dip, jerky, batteries—are found in abundance, writes Brad Tuttle at Time. 

He notes the study, too, adding that the majority of mascots on kids cereal boxes look slightly downward, increasing the chances that these characters will be making direct eye contact with your toddler standing in the aisle. Spokespeople and other characters on adult cereal boxes, by contrast, are almost always staring straight ahead, and because they’re placed among the top shelves, they too should be staring straight into the eyes of the demographic they’re trying to woo.

Research shows that brand trust and connectivity to a product increases when eye contact is made, even when it’s just a weird cartoon rabbit or frog that’s gazing directly at a small child’s face. 

"What’s more, when the uneasy feeling arises that someone is staring at you, there’s an instinct to turn your head and see who it is," Tuttle reports. "This means shoppers are more likely to take a look at the product in the first place because it catches one’s eye. Naturally, all of this increases the odds that the cereal will wind up in your shopping cart."

So keep your kids away from the Cocoa Puffs.


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