Cereal Boxes Designed to Make Sustained Eye Contact With Children

In a study of 65 cereals at 10 grocery stores, researchers at Cornell University found that cereals marketed to kids are often placed at a lower shelf height—and characters on the cereal boxes are typically drawn to make eye contact with children. The report even has a suitably creepy title: “Eyes in the Aisles: Why is Cap’n Crunch Looking Down at My Child?”

If you want to get really scientific about it, the researchers found that children’s cereals are typically placed on the bottom two shelves and the mascots deploy “a downward gaze at an angle of 9.67 degrees.” This creates an average gaze for the characters a little more than 20 inches above the ground, which is pretty handy for grabbing the attention of small kids in the grocery aisle.

From Venessa Wong at Businessweek: “Is Cap’n Crunch Staring Straight Into Your Child’s Soul?” (Answer: yes.)

Apparently “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,” and I guess that makes sense. I am about a child’s height, and I do love making eye contact with my brand of choice. Especially rows and rows of large cartoon-eyed representations of my brand of choice, following me down the aisle and closing in on me from the cardboard walls of a crowded grocery store.

Photo: Mike Mozart



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