Tuesday, October 1, 2013

how would you visualize this data?

I had a follow up session yesterday with a group that recently went through one of my custom workshops. It was really great to see and hear how participants have been able to put what we learned to use and to discuss where they are facing challenges and strategies to overcome them. One participant recapped what they took away from the session: enhance what's important, tone down what isn't, and question the question!

We also looked at some specific data they were having challenges visualizing and had some fun experimenting with possible solutions on the whiteboard. There was one that we didn't get to that I want to share here for input:

Click here to download the data in Excel.
A few comments on the data:
  • In the original, "Competitor A," "Competitor B," etc. were actual competitor names, which I've generalized here (and in the downloadable data) to preserve confidentiality. 
  • Unaided Awareness, Awareness, Consideration, and Preference are in regards to the given company's brand. This is sometimes known as the "purchase funnel". The data is collected through a survey; percents represent the percent of the total sample population. 
  • Unaided Awareness is the % of people who know the brand off the top of their heads (for example, What brands come to mind when you think of shampoo?).
  • Awareness is in response to a list of brands: Which of the following brands of shampoo are you aware of?
  • Consideration is which brand a consumer would consider purchasing.
  • Preference is which brand a consumer is most likely to purchase.
  • Conversion (highlighted in title) is the percent of people who move from one funnel step to the next (what percent of aware people consider you, etc.)

The intent is to be able to compare the brand of "OUR COMPANY" along these dimensions to the various competitors, as well as get a sense of where our opportunity lies.

I think this could be done more effectively than it is here. I have a couple ideas, but am lacking time at the moment to try them out. So I thought I'd solicit your help. How would you tackle this visualization challenge? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Note: please link to your visual if you create one; you can embed a link in your text comment with the following HTML (replace the parts in blue).
<a href="http://www.link_you_want_to_insert.com/" target="_blank" >text to link</a>


  1. If Conversion is defined as Awareness divided by Consideration, Competitor A would rank least in value.

    There 3 alternatives: (a) If Conversion were defined as either as Awareness multiplied by Consideration; or as (b) Consideration multiplied by Preference, Competitor A would rank highest in value; or(c) if Conversion were defined as Awareness multiplied by Preference, Competitor A would also rank highest in value.

    Definitions (b) and (c) would make more sense as they define the likely rate of converting awareness or consideration into a sales rate.


  2. Hi Walt,

    You're right - I had that detail wrong. I've corrected it and added some additional detail on the data from the creator in the blog post itself, which should improve the clarity of this somewhat generalized example.

  3. Cole,

    I created the attached after seeing the comments posted around 9am, but regardless of the change in data, would re-visualize the data something along the lines of what's shown here as opposed to the original visualization posted in order to facilitate the comparison of the companies against one another: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/5zebn3epik6f2zq/voq2TCmShl#/

    Curious to hear your thoughts.

  4. Hi Cole,

    I've certainly seen worse, but in this visualisation my eyes are working overtime moving between 'Our Company' and the individual competitors. Moving back and forward whilst trying to compare centered bars (seems much more difficult than left or right aligned) is asking too much to make an effective comparison.

    I've gone for horizontal bars for each of the four categories to allow quick comparison of 'Our Company' with the competitors. I went back and forth over whether to leave the bars on their own or stack them. In the end I went for stacked bars to indicate all bars were on the same scale in each chart and for consistency across the visualisation.

    Here's my initial layout:


    I'm looking forward to seeing how you would have done it.


  5. I made my first chart, a panel dot plot, before reading the addendum about conversion. I separated Unaided Awareness from the other measures because it's really a different question, unrelated to the others.
    text to link

    Then I simply added a panel for "total conversion", which I calculated as Preference/Awareness. I'm not sure I like this definition, but whatever.
    text to link

    Then I sorted by total conversion, and saw that competitor H didn't fit so well with the others.
    text to link

    Finally I simplified by removing Unaided Awareness.
    text to link

  6. Is there a way you can post your images without blogspot? My company's firewall blocks most blogs, so unfortunately I miss many of your finest points!

  7. Hi
    This is a very quick layout:
    I think the aided and unaided are best compared around a horizontal axis.
    Also, it is important not to lose the (funnel-ness) of the data, so a
    stacked bar would work best. Visual cleaning would be needed,
    particularly to display the total conversion, original percentages and
    to show that the stacked bars are actually steps towards conversion.
    But here is my Quick Layout on


  8. Mine is quite similar to Jon's, though with bars and two conversion numbers.
    lookit me! lookit me!

  9. I made a draft of radar chart and parallel coordinates.

  10. Here is my take on this data:

    It has the option to change the sorting and the logic for computing the Preference Conversion. You can pick the reference company, or set it to None, and show or hide the different Metrics.

    I also added another section that highlights potentially interesting companies relative to the selected reference company. These are companies where some of the selected metrics are both above and below the selected. You can select from this list to highlight them above.

    I left my first attempt as another tab in the above link. I was not happy with it, but I think it is interesting to see where I started vs where I ended up.

    There are a great deal of perspectives that can be generated here, for example:
    1. Company C Has Low Unaided Awareness relative to Awareness
    2. Looking at the Actual values, other companies are with Above or Below Our Company
    3. Focused on just Conversion of Preference and Consideration, companies E,I,G show up as potentially interesting relative to our company
    4. Finally adding in Awareness, we see company H is most interesting, with a lower Awareness, but higher Conversion rates