To quote Stephen Few, 'Comparison is the beating heart of data analysis' (Few, 2009, p55). When users compare data, they are really doing two things: looking for similarities, and looking for differences in the data. One common area of comparison is looking at magnitudes, and Tableau easily offers the ability to look at magnitudes in a user-oriented way. This can clearly be seen in the top graph, which is highlighted below, and a full version can be reviewed by clicking here.
In the example of the ‘World Chocolate Sales’ graph, the length and the width of the bars in the bar chart allow us to easily compare sizes. This is clearly seen in the top graph; the magnitude of worldwide chocolate sales, by company, is expressed by the length and the width of the bar. So, to illustrate, Mars Inc have the longest and widest bar, since Mars was the overall winner in terms of worldwide chocolate sales. In contrast, Kraft Foods Inc has the shortest and thinnest bar, since they were ranked last out of the top 5 chocolate vendors.
A simple sort of the worldwide chocolate sales data reveals something counter-intuitive: the sort shows that Cadbury is the second-largest company in terms of chocolate sales in the world, and additionally that Cadbury is shown to have more worldwide chocolate sales than Kraft. This analysis is further enhanced by the gradations in the bar colour, which help the viewer to identify the magnitude of sales. These gradations show that Kraft's total sales are less than 60% of Cadbury's worldwide total sales. This is surprising, given the recent takeover bid by Kraft. Tableau has helped us to understand this counter-intuitive feature of the data by facilitating a very simple sort. In the words of Stephen Few, 'Don't underestimate the power of a simple sort' (Few, 2009, p61).
Given this surprising result in the data analysis, what further insights can be revealed regarding why Kraft, the fifth-largest chocolate company in terms of sales, is interested in taking over the second-largest chocolate seller, Cadbury? A further sort of the brand value data, as displayed in the bottom right hand gauge, might help reveal the answer to this question; the graph is given below.
It is clear to see that Kraft have a greater amount of brand value than Cadbury. Here, the magnitude of the brand value is reflected in the colour; the darker brown shows the higher value, and the lighter value shows the smaller brand value for Cadbury PLC. Further Analysis shows that each vendor has one outstanding brand which serves as an outlier, pulling up the overall average. Tableau allows the data analyst to easily add in a reference line, which shows the average. Further, a line graph has been added in order to facilitate comparison of magnitude of the brand value differences. A large version can be found by clicking here.
To show consistency with the earlier brand value finding, the brand value is ranked in two ways: Kraft Foods Inc have been placed at the top half of this graph, and Cadbury has been placed at the bottom of this graph to reveal that, overall, the brand value of Kraft was greater than that of Cadbury. This visualisation may be surprising, since it shows that Kraft's brand value is greater than Cadbury's brand value, even though the worldwide sales for Kraft are less than Cadbury's.
It is also interesting to work out the brand values without looking at the company name. This has been supplied in the bottom right hand gauge entitled ‘Brand Gauge’. The example is given here:
Kraft has the greatest brand value in its Milka Range, followed by Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. It is interesting that Cadbury’s Creme Egg features on the list at all, since it is only sold for the first half of each year.
Looking forward, it is clear to see that, by purchasing Cadbury, Kraft would acquire the brand value of Dairy Milk, which is significantly higher than many of its own brands. Further, if the chocolate sale worldwide of each company was added together, this would create a new leader in chocolate sales since this would dwarf the worldwide chocolate sales of the current leader, Mars.
To summarise, two items have been covered: an analysis of recent chocolate sales and brand value data for 2008, along with some thoughts around the sales and brand value for a company combining both Kraft and Cadbury. It has been shown that Tableau as a data visualisation tool served to facilitate an understanding of the sales and brand value data, in addition to stimulating speculation over the future.
Mintel, 2010. Chocoholics Unite as Chocolate Sales Worldwide Defy Recession
Stephen Few (2009). Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantative Analysis (Hardcover) Analytics Press
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