In Singapore’s fiercely competitive F&B industry, the constant flow of publicity is crucial for restaurants to stay on the radar of indecisive diners.
Social media was the obvious “go to”, anyone with a smartphone is now constantly barraged with Instagram posts of food and blogger reviews.
Sadly, filtering the legitimacy of one from another is nearly impossible! Hosted meals are usually not mentioned or in fine print at the end of the review.
From the business perspective, paying a food blogger to write a good review is certainly a very effective way to boost traffic and publicity. However, from the consumer stand point, do you feel cheated? We believe in the food blogger’s reviews because we trust their judgement and that these are unbiased opinions from ordinary customers like us. However, is that really the case? Are the food bloggers really objective in their reviews in consideration of being paid?
Lets go in the context of Singapore’s top food bloggers,
According to The Business Times, a F&B operator paid “ladyironchef-Brad Lau” a fee of S$3,800 to promote its restaurant via food reviews. Brad Lau with over 640,000 followers on Instagram alone is perhaps the best known food blogger.
Seth Lui with over 13,000 followers on Instagram charges from S$1,000 to S$10,000 for advertorials.
After knowing the fact that relatively most of the reviews are paid or hosted by restaurants, it surely strikes a question in our minds, is it realistically possible to stay objective if one is being hosted to a free meal? or worst, being paid a 4 digit sum to do it?
This is an example of an unhappy customer who followed the recommendations of a food blogger.
Now to the question of being ethical. After reading through this post, do you feel that restaurants are ethical in playing the “trust” card via paid or hosted food blogger’s reviews?
I personally feel that it is normal and acceptable for a business to have paid food reviews as a form of advertorial on social media platforms, however it should be clearly stated in the post that its a sponsored or paid review! The omission of that fact is clearly unethical to me as a consumer.
For businesses thinking of indulging in unethical methods to boost sales, keep this in mind!
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A PR Case Study: Wal-Marting Across America. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2015.
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Image credited to: https://instagram.com/infatuation/