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This is a follow up on the “Trouble at the Top of the Food Chain” article from Straits Times Singapore. 

 In the article, the public has the perception that bloggers and reviewers are dishing out good reviews in order to earn their keep. My thought is, it could be the "cafes’ fault" to start with. 

 My observation is: Singapore Cafes are set up to cater to the blogging and social media habits of consumers, rather than the actual consumption. 

 You had probably heard of terms such as “instagrammable worthy food”, “food looks so pretty but taste is so-so”. The fact is, most cafes are set up to awe the consumer. 

It is themed, chic with trendy and hip music playing in the background. Sure, now and then you will hear about the food and occasionally someone will say good stuff about the coffee, but the latter is rare as compared to people raving about the ambience and desserts. 

Unlike the coffee culture in Melbourne, Brisbane or Seattle, Singaporeans are generally not looking for great coffee, they are looking for cafes with interesting concepts and maybe nice and pretty desserts rather than delicious main meals. 

So when the reviewers are there, with the entire cafe set up to score social media brownie points, how bad can the reviews be? 

Cafes will usually have no problem doing brisk business in their first 6 months. As bloggers need to continuously update their content, they look forward to hunting down and featuring the latest cafes in town. 

The testing of cafés’ business model comes after the novelty wears off and it is no longer a new cafe. 

 Do they have the right value proposition to keep customers coming back? In layman term: regular customers. Now, regulars are the folks that pays most of cafes' bills and the extra profits are from attracting new customers. 

 But then, they will only come if there is a good reason for them to visit the “old” cafe. 

Personally, I think the online reviews are great in helping to promote the cafes and they helped the cafes to generate enough revenue for the first couple of months. 

Cafes should think about leveraging on this publicity to shout out their USP (unique selling proposition) to grow their customer base. And also to establish their value offering A.K.A “why should people patronize your cafe”. 

About the Author: 

Ebenezer Heng runs a community that reaches out to 0.5 million people daily (’s digital assets). Lectures in a Singapore Tertiary Institution and advises digital marketing for organisations such as Chinese Chamber of Commerce, National Sports Association, Constituencies. 

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OCM ( was started in 2007 with the first webpage about coffee machines. And for a number of years, we focused on helping people find their desired coffee machine (we still are helping folks with that! So, if you are looking for coffee machines for office or restaurants - check out the link). 

In 2010, we started getting enquiries on restaurant marketing and we start to help food and beverage brands with their marketing. Below are campaigns and events that we have done over the years: 

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Check out this restaurant marketing guide to learn more about the many campaigns and companies we have worked with. 

Since then, we have also created many marketing workshops and classes for the F&B industry. Many of these modules are still running in tertiary institutions such as Temasek Polytechnic Skillsfuture Academy and also ITE College East COC classes, below are some snippets of our lectures and workshops: 

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