A Cheeky Way to Put Product Description In Context

I’ve written before how showing products in context with product images can help increase conversion. Showing a product in use, on a model or its relative size reduces customer anxiety about the appropriateness of a product. Of course, video can be even more effective (just ask Shoeline.com who achieved a 44% increase in conversion with video).

But creative manufacturers like Timbuk2 also describe products in context with creativity and humor. A member of outdoor gear retailer Backcountry.com‘s community noticed Timbuk2′s unique way of explaining the volume of its messenger bag capacity, and it found its way to Backcountry’s product page for the Timbuk2 Messenger Bag.

Customer question: Whats the volume of the extra large?


The extra large bag has a TPRCV of 20.

What is TPRCV you ask?

The geniuses at Timbuk2 explain it best:

We know you don’t have time to buy the wrong size bag. We also know you’re imaginative and visually oriented problem solvers living in a three dimensional world where toilet paper is routinely available.

Soft, stackable and building block-like, toilet paper rolls can be easily arranged to simulate the internal dimensions of any bag.

Working in tandem with our R&D department, our marketing team recently completed an assessment of each bag. We have identified, down to the roll, the maximum capacity for each bag we tested. The resulting TPRCV (Toilet Paper Roll Capacity Value) can be used in a simple, at-home comparison of corresponding stacks of TPR, helping you make an informed decision about what size bag best suits your purposes.

You will need a flat, level surface, a maximum of twenty-one toilet paper rolls (TPRs), your imagination, and your design and rendering skills.

For best results, use two-ply.

By: Matt Fuller
August 9, 2008

This is a “cheeky” example of how to put a product in-context. For some, “20 toilet paper rolls” is more helpful than 26.25 x 14 x 9in.

Exercise: For the products you carry, anticipate what kinds of use or sizing questions customers may have, and what information is not made obvious by the current image and description. (Hint: read a lot of customer reviews – from your site and competitors).

PS: Backcountry has a leaderboard for user-generated content to recognize the contributions of photos, reviews, questions and answers. “Gear Gurus” are encouraged to use their real names to build real community. Check it out here.

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5 Responses to “A Cheeky Way to Put Product Description In Context”

  1. Hello,

    I am Dustin Robertson the CMO of Backcountry.com. Thank you for recognizing our innovation it is nice to get confirmation we are on the right path. A few points of clarification.

    1. Our Q&A is not powered by Bazaar Voice we built this solution in house.

    2. The questions are not usually answered by our customer service department. Our Q&A is a forum for customers to talk to each other about gear.

  2. Thanks Dustin, I’ve updated the post accordingly. I was under the impression that Matt Fuller was on your team and had tested with the toilet rolls, now upon closer reading I realize it came from Timbuk2.

    Regardless, kudos on the community you’ve built on Backcountry. You’ve done a good job attracting involvement from customers who do their due diligence on answering questions!

  3. I agree with showing a product in use can help to reduce the anxiety of the consumer and help to facilitate more sales. Video is phenomenal and very effective as well. Thanks for a great post.

  4. Benett says:

    Good afternoon. In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.
    I am from Kuwait and also am speaking English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “If your debt has gotten out of control you need to seek credit counseling or even bankruptcy.”
    :-D Thanks in advance. Benett.

  5. Great Post! Taking a picture with someone using the product makes so much sense. I think How To Videos would effective as well. Especially when buying something like beauty products or hair styling products.

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