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Posted: Friday, 04 April 2014 8:04AM

Wonder Why Your Kids Go Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?

Don Bayley/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to successful marketing of cereal brands to adults and kids, the eyes have it.

A recent study by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity reveals consumers are 16 percent more likely to trust a brand of cereal if the character on the box is staring them directly in the eyes.

To assess cereal characters and eye contact, researchers looked at 65 brands of cereal on shelves of 10 different grocery stores in New York and Connecticut. After allowing a standard distance between shoppers and the cereal shelf of 4 feet, they calculated the angle in which 86 different cereal characters gazed at shoppers.

The researchers found cereal characters marketed toward children and those geared toward adults are designed to make incidental eye contact with their target consumers.

Out of 86 different cereal characters, 57 were designed with a 9.67-degree downward gaze in order to attract the attention of kids.

The researchers also found that kids' cereals are positioned at the same height as kids -- about 23 inches off of the floor.

Adult cereals are positioned at about 48 inches off of the floor.

Characters of cereals marketed toward adults were designed with a slight upward angle and basically stared straight ahead.

The study also asked 63 college students to observe two versions of a Trix cereal box and give their opinion on trust and connection to its trademark rabbit character.

One version of the cereal box showed the rabbit looking straight ahead while the second showed the rabbit looking down. Researchers found brand trust increased by 16 percent and connection to the brand jumped by 10 percent when the Trix rabbit made eye contact with the participant.

Brian Wansink, director of Cornell‘s Food and Brand Lab, says, “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."

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