The next time you go shopping at your local supermarket, head down the breakfast cereal aisle and take a look all the different brands. You'd probably notice that breakfast cereals marketed to children usually have characters, and those characters tend to lok downward. Why is that?
Business Insider reported that researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab have surveyed cereal brands from various grocery stores and found that most characters in cereals marketed to kids have downward gaze.
Aner Tal and Brian Wansink of Cornell University, in collaboration with Aviva Musicus of Yale University, surveyed 65 cereal brands and found that out of 87 spokes-characters, 57 were marketed to children with a downward gaze. In contrast, characters in cereal brands geared toward adults tend to look straight ahead. And that may not be a coincidence: adult cereals tend to be placed higher than kids' brands and their characters' gazes are designed to make eye contact with their targeted audience.
But why is making eye contact important? The researchers performed another study where they showed participants two versions of the Trix cereal box, one with the rabbit making eye contact and another in which it did not (Silly researchers, don't they know that Trix are for kids?). They found that people trusted the brand at higher rate and felt more connected when the rabbit made eye contact.
So the next time Cap'n Crunch is staring down at your kid, you know the reason.