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Brand Eye Contact with Kids Builds Loyalty
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Frosted Flakes, with its Tony the Tiger character, brings in more than $267 million each year for the Kellogg’s company.  And Honey Nut Cheerios, with its honey-wielding “bee” rakes in more than $357 million annually for General Mills. According to a recent study from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, consumers are 16 percent more likely to trust a brand of cereal when the characters on the boxes on the supermarket shelves are looking at them straight in the eye.

The Food and Brand Lab is a non-profit research facility at Cornell University which focuses on why people buy and eat the foods they do in the quantities they do. The stated mission of the Lab is to “Conduct top level academic research that enables consumers to use food to help them ‘to be what they want to be’ — this could involve eating less, eating better, or enjoying food more.”


The researchers from Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab and the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity included 65 brands of cereal on the shelves of 10 different grocery stores in New York and Connecticut. According to Science Daily, 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 Cornell team measured the angle of the character’s gaze four feet away from the shelf. Of these characters, according to the Huffington Post, 66 percent were targeted at kids and they gazed downward.

“There are some cool things happening in grocery stores, many based on psychology, that impact how and what people purchase,” post-doctoral lab researcher, Aner Tal explained. In a statement Brian Wansink, Cornell’s Director of Food and Brand Lab said that, “If you are a parent who does not want your kids to go ‘cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs,’ avoid taking them down the cereal aisle,” according to Medical Daily Brian Wansink shared, “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.”

The Food and Brand Lab, which was originally known as the “Brand Lab,” was first established by Brian Wansink, and is the main force behind the Small Plate Movement, which is encouraging consumers to use smaller dinner plates in their homes and is also encouraging restaurants to use smaller plates in their restaurants.

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