It May Be More Than Big Data Watching You–Consider the Trix Rabbit

The original Trix cereal box (L), and an altered version used in a study by Musicus et al.

The Trix rabbit with different gaze angles. In the left, the gaze is aimed downward at kids 9.6 degrees. In the right, his gaze is 0.4 degrees upward if the cereal is meant for adults. Adult brands are usually on the top grocery shelves; on the bottom two for children to catch their eyes.

In an eyebrow-raising bit of human psychology put to good advertising use, the makers of Trix cereal, General Mills, have found that by adjusting the rabbit’s gaze to actually look at the potential customer (read your kid), they may have raised Trix sales.

How, you ask?

Psychologists have found that 63 university students looking at the rabbit both gazing down and straight ahead at the viewer, found an interesting result.

Those who had gazed at the at the rabbit’s yes reported higher feelings of trust and connection with Trix.  And (and here’s the payoff), more likely to choose that cereal over the experiment’s comparison cereal, Fruity Pebbles.


According to Dr. Brian Wansink, an author of the study and director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, whose own daughter was mesmerized by the Trix rabbit in the cereal aisle, “It’s well-known that eye contact with a person can influence you.  But I was surprised that the influence was as strong as it is, particularly for adults who are not the target market.”  Kids were not tested (yet).

In other experiments, such as in honesty payments for coffee in the the cafeteria or break room, signs with faces and eyes suggesting how much to pay had higher receipts than signs that just asked patrons to pay.

Lesson here: The eyes have it!

Here is more:



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