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Sensory Suggestiveness and Labeling: Do Soy Labels Bias Taste?

Wansink, Brian and Se–Bum Park (2002). Sensory Suggestiveness and Labeling: Do Soy Labels Bias Taste? Journal of Sensory Studies, 17(5), 483–491. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-459X.2002.tb00360.x

The results of this study show that suggestive labels bias taste perceptions. Soy labels appear to negatively influence how consumers perceive taste, which may in part be due to consumers' belief that healthy foods usually do not taste good. However, including soy on the front label caused participants to view the health claims with less skepticism. Thus, suggestive labels lend credibility to health claims.

In terms of the types of consumers, those who are considerably taste–conscious were extremely sensitive to soy labeling and responded negatively to the soy–labeled product. Conversely, the health–conscious consumer group was not influenced by the soy labeling. This study thus confirms that not all consumers are equally influenced by suggestive labeling: the taste–conscious segment was more highly influenced by soy labeling than the health–conscious segment.

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*The study was conducted at the University of Illinois, former location of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.