Can a visit to the cereal aisle help you improve your financial well-being?
Did you start your day staring into a bowl of oat circles floating in milk?
Then be proud! Today is National Cereal Day, the one day a year set aside to celebrate the quick eye-opener of our youth that somehow remained a daily habit long after we should have known better.
So what’s this have to do with personal finance? Only this: When you walk down that long, long aisle in the supermarket, remember it’s not just the greatest single impulse-gratification invention in history, it’s also a metaphor for goals we want to attain in life, including financial health. There are always choices beckoning, and not all of them are necessarily great choices:
The easy, tasty, guilt-inducing stuff is on the bottom. But the healthier goods are waaaay up there on the top shelf. They may not be in brightly-colored boxes and they probably have more bran than sugar, but they’re better for you, right now, and in the long run. And what’s more, the boxes are looking at you, making connections to your inner (or actual) child or your mature adult, whichever you may be.
Researchers at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab released a study Wednesday published in the Journal of Environment and Behavior that shows along with strategic placement, characters on cereal boxes are designed to create eye contact to build brand loyalty with targeted consumers.
In a two-part study, researchers confirmed that the cereals targeting children are placed about 23 inches off the ground and those aimed at adults 48 inches high. After studying 65 cereals and 86 “spokes-characters” they found the cereals on the top shelves have characters staring straight ahead or slightly up to make eye contact with adults. For the lower boxes with cartoon characters with large inviting eyes, the gaze is focused slightly downward, to create eye contact with children.
But don’t over-think it, or worry so much about which box of cereal you toss in your cart. Even Lucky Charms is full of vitamins. But maybe, next time you’re there, remember this truth about your financial health and other important goals: The good stuff is worth reaching for.