Altruism, Community, Wine & SNOOTH
I’ve been thinking a lot about Snooth lately. The recently launched meta site that aggregates reviews from numerous sources, as well as those entered directly on the site, to come up with aesthetic and critical profiles of wines, is a good thing. A very good thing.
If the web is to become a reliable place to go for opinions on products then we’d better have a variety of opinions. That’s what makes me particularly interested in Snooth.
When running on all cylinders Snooth has the potential to deliver an array of opinions on wines ranging from the consumers, the retailers, the critics and the wine competitions. They attempt to translate all this information into a five point rating scale (it delivers half points…that’s good). This is ambitious. But it wouldn’t be worth doing if ambition were not built into the project. Just look around the net at all the other websites that offer "community reviews" of wines. Seems to me if you are going to enter this space, enter it big and bold. And that appears to be what Snooth is doing.
Snooth is currently pulling reviews from around the web, including CellarTracker, which seems to be the most successful community review site. However, there are also scores from the Spectator, Tanzer and others. There are medals listed from competitions.
This brings up a big difference between Snooth and other review aggregate sites: A skepticism with altruism. Cellar Tracker was built on the idea that wine lovers would be kind enough to offer their reviews of wines. And they’ve stepped up and done so. But there is no guarantee that this model of relying on folks to deliver their views on a wine to your website will pan out. There is in fact a real and obvious possibility that many a wine will be missed or ignored.
Altruism can’t be counted on. And the folks at Snooth, while they encourage the kindness of wine lovers by asking them to rate wines, have made a point of creating software that scours other sources of altruism, not to mention the professional points of view.
Snooth currently has over 1.5 million "reviews" or comments on various wines. How long would it take to generate that kind of useful content if you relied on altruism?
The other beauty of Snooth, and the reason you should use it and bet on it, is the way it allows one to search for wines or receive recommendations for wines based on wine-related words: heavy, big, cherry, oaky, low alcohol, etc. What this means is that both the review-obsessed as well as the ordinary wine lover who simply knows what they want, can make good use of Snooth.
Snooth will eventually be monetized by allowing retailers to upload their inventory, which allows a "buy now" button to be associated with any wine in the system that is currently sold by any participating retailers. Eventually snooth will take a cut or percentage of each sale. I suspect if the community grows advertising will also be a revenue generating possibility. And why shouldn’t it be a part of the site? A good ad for a good product isn’t offensive in the least.
Everything depends on the user base Snooth can create.
Here’s hoping it creates a base of millions of users.