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Warning: Cereal Box Characters Are Stalking The Children

By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) -- WARNING: The Cap'n, The Rabbit, and Tony are stalking the children!

That's the result of new research from Cornell University.

Their advice?

Don't call the police, just don't take the kids down the cereal aisle in the grocery store.

The cartoon above does a fine job of illustrating the strategy.

Essentially, kids' cereal is placed lower on shelves, and the characters on the boxes are designed at a specific angle to make eye contact with the children walking beside their parents.

So, that silly rabbit is secretly convincing the kids to plead with their parents to buy Trix.

In a study of 65 cereals in 10 different grocery stores in New York and Connecticut, Cornell researchers found that cereals marketed to kids are placed half as high on supermarket shelves as adult cereals—about 23 inches for kids compared with 48 inches for adult cereal.

Additionally, the average angle of the gaze of kids'cereal box characters is downward at a 9.6 degree angle.

Adult cereal box characters look straight ahead.

The researchers also found the making eye contact increases brand loyalty, by about 16 percent, compared with characters the gaze straight forward.

"If you are a parent who does not want your kids to go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs' avoid taking them down the cereal aisle," concluded the study's authors, Cornell researchers Aner Tal and Brian Wansink.

"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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