When labeling food products with soy, be careful. According to a study by University of Illinois marketing professor Brian Wansink, soy labels negatively influence consumers' buying decisions.

In a study of 163 adults and four labeling conditions, Wansink and researcher Sea Bum Park found that soy labels weaken peoples' perception of a product's taste. However, if it's coupled with a health label, the soy label has a positive effect on consumers' taste expectations.

From this study's results, marketers concerned with increasing sales of soy-related products should:

* Use the health label along with the soy label to diminish negative taste perceptions. Also, without the soy label, people perceive a healthy food as being more expensive.

* Target dieters and health-conscious consumers, and not use soy labeling for taste-conscious consumers.

This study used a new blind test called the "Phantom Ingredient," which examined how different combinations of labeling influence consumers' perceptions of a product.

(Brian Wansink, University of Illinois)