Want more people eyeing your product? A new study suggests you should try and get your packaging to make eye contact.
A study by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found that when characters or people on a cereal box are positioned to make eye contact with a customer, the customer's appreciation of the brand significantly increases.
In the experiment, participants were shown a Trix box, either with the cartoon Trix Rabbit looking straight at the viewer or looking down, and asked to rate their feelings of trust and connection.
The results: Brand trust increased 16 percent and the feeling of connection to the brand was 10 percent higher when the Rabbit made eye contact. Participants also indicated that they liked Trix better compared to other cereal in cases when the Rabbit made eye contact.
Cornell's study also revealed that grocery stores are making the most of this eye contact by placing cereal at the ideal level to connect with their customers: 23-inches high for children's cereal, compared to 48 inches for adults. The average angle of the gaze in children's cereal character is downward at a 9.6 degree angle, increasing incidental eye contact with children, while adults' cereal boxes feature individuals looking straight ahead.
While the survey on characters' eye contact with customers only surveyed 63 individuals, evidence is piling up that eye contact – even if with packaging or a picture – can be key to influencing individuals. For example, a 2012 study showed donations to a charity bucket increased by 48 percent with the presence of nearby eye imagery.
Eye contact may not be the only way to get customers to pick up your product, but it's certainly one way to get them to see eye to eye with your brand.