What Is a Marimeko Chart and What Is It Used For?

In this era of digital transformation, data visualization is crucial to delivering insights and information in as easy a fashion as possible. Cleaning up these visuals allows for quicker decision-making backed up by evidence. While bar charts and pie graphs are among the more common presentations you see in the business world, there are other variations that can articulate these details. One of these options is the Marimekko or Mekko chart. 

What is a Marimekko chart?

A Marimekko chart is a graphical representation using stacked bar charts and graphs of varying widths to visualize categorical data. Also known as a Mekko chart or a mosaic plot, they’re ideal for representing sample data. Marimekko charts combine multiple categories and subcategories across the vertical and horizontal axes of a standard bar or column chart. They’re often created based on a contingency table.

A contingency table displays a particular frequency in each cell, the intersection of two or more categories. One of these tables, commonly created on an Excel spreadsheet, will show variations of data in different rows and columns. With a display of the intersection of two variables, each cell in a contingency table shows specific combinations across data sets. For example, a Marimekko chart can be developed from information to create a vertical axis that represents hair color and a horizontal axis that represents eye color. A Mekko chart will show the proportions within that data, adjusting bar width to show numerical value within that control group.

How do you interpret a Mekko chart?

A Marimekko chart or Marimekko diagram is made clearer by dividing the vertical axes into four categories representing each data set within a given study. The width of each category is directly proportional to the percentage of people being represented within those values. Each vertical category is divided horizontally to form the blocks or mosaics in the chart. The final Marimekko chart that represents the information will allow for a clear demonstration of the current information on file, changing how different brands address particular scenarios for data management.

While Marimekko charts are great to represent different data, reading them may not be straightforward. The width of each vertical column in a mosaic plot is not the same. Therefore, the height of each block within a Mekko chart cannot be compared directly. It is the area of each block within that diagram that correctly represents the value of data. It’s easier to compare heights rather than areas based on the given visuals, but only if those values are properly represented and dictated on those charts.

When should Marimekko charts be used?

Marimekko charts have developed multiple uses over the years across various sectors. Mekko charts have been an effective tool in the retail industry to visualize sales data. Large chain stores across the U.S. turn to Marimekko graphs and charts to show sales across different categories sold in their locations. A Mekko chart can represent the categorical data of stores and the items on sale. This chart helps to visualize which store made higher sales and which item has the highest sales proportion. Marimekko charts are often used to represent the share of different companies in a market with multiple segments, such as the auto industry.

Marimekko charts are very useful in visualizing how different departments within an organization assign budgets to various activities that drive revenue or production. This includes sales, research, and operations budgets, as well as understanding what is covered under those budgets like travel, equipment, and human resources. Mekko charts are intended to be a roadmap for each department to properly function with clearly identified axis labels and data sources. With easier assessment and clearer data, the sky’s the limit for any size company in any industry.

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