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Eyes in the Aisles: Why Is Cap’N Crunch Looking Down at My Child?

“Eyes in the Aisles: Why is Cap’n Crunch Looking Down at my Child?,” Environment and Behavior, 47:7 (August 2015), 715-733.

32 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2014 Last revised: 29 Apr 2017

Aner Tal

Cornell University

Aviva Musicus

Yale University

Brian Wansink

Cornell University

Date Written: April 1, 2014

Abstract

To what extent do cereal spokes-characters make eye contact with children versus adults, and does their eye contact influence choice? The shelf placement and eye positioning of 86 cereal spokes-characters were evaluated in ten grocery stores in the Eastern United States. In Study 1, we calculated the average height of cereal boxes on the shelf for adult- versus children-oriented cereals (48 versus 23-in.) and the inflection angle of spokes-characters’ gaze (0.4 versus -9.6 degrees). We found that cereal characters on children- (adult-) oriented cereals make incidental eye contact at children’s (adults’) eye level. In Study 2, we showed that eye contact with cereal spokes-characters increased feelings of trust and connection to the brand, as well as choice of the brand over competitors. Currently, many of the cereals targeted towards children are of the heavily sugared, less healthy variety. One potential application of this finding would be to use eye contact with spokes-characters to promote healthy choices and healthier food consumption.

Keywords: Eye contact, spokes-characters, cereal, food marketing to children, product packaging

Suggested Citation

Tal, Aner and Musicus, Aviva and Wansink, Brian, Eyes in the Aisles: Why Is Cap’N Crunch Looking Down at My Child? (April 1, 2014). “Eyes in the Aisles: Why is Cap’n Crunch Looking Down at my Child?,” Environment and Behavior, 47:7 (August 2015), 715-733. . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2419182 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2419182

Aner Tal

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Aviva Musicus

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Brian Wansink (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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