Tag Archives: Marimekko

When to use a Mekko chart

Earlier in the blog, we covered the basics of the Mekko or Marimekko chart. In this entry, we discuss types of analyses that are best suited for visualization through the Mekko chart. Note that not all readers will be familiar with these charts and it is important that they are well designed and simply convey the information.

The Mekko is a two dimensional stacked bar chart where the width and height of segments carry information. Unlike the bar-mekko, the Marimekko chart has a 100% y-axis.

The Marimekko is great way of answering a variety of market overview questions. For example if we want to understand who the most valuable franchises are by sport the Mekko is a succinct way of showing it (see chart below). Each column in the Mekko represents a sport and each segment is a franchise. In this example no franchise can exist in two different columns/sports.  This however does not have to be true for Mekko charts in general. Often the segments in a Mekko are repeated across the columns.

Mekko chart showing most valuable franchises by sport

Mekko chart showing most valuable franchises by sport

Other types of questions you can answer with the Marimekko include:

  • How many servers do Facebook, Amazon, and Google have across the world? Here we would make each continent a column in the Mekko and each company a horizontal segment
  • Who are largest medical device companies by product line? Each product line could be a column in the Mekko and each company a horizontal segment. The value plotted would be company revenue
  • Which countries grow the most coffee beans in the world? The columns of the Mekko would be continents. The segments would be the countries. The value plotted would be the amount of coffee grown.

The Mekko chart is a standard option with Aploris either on your Mac or PC. Simply select the Mariekko chart option and Aploris will provide you with sample chart and template data that you can quickly modify.

Explaining Bar-mekkos

Similar to the Marimekko, the Bar-mekko is a two-dimensional chart where the area of each segment is of interest. Other terms used for this type of chart include skyline chart, variable-width column graph and variwide chart. Unlike the Marimekko, the Bar-mekko does not require a 100% axis which means not all columns have to be the same height. This enables the Bar-mekko to effectively communicate two different variables.

One typical example are Bar-mekkos that show profit pools where the y-axis represents a gross or operating profit margin and the x-axis represents the revenue. In the example below, we use the Bar-mekko to examine Microsoft’s different business units (source: 2013 earnings release).

Bar-mekko showing profit pools

Bar-mekko or skyline chart

The reader can quickly see which units bring in the most revenue represented by the widest segments as well as which ones provide the greatest operating margin, namely the tallest segments. Since multiplying revenue and margin results in the operating income or loss, it is also easy to see which ones provide the greatest operating income by identifying the segments with largest areas.

Similar to the Marimekko, Aploris also lets users quickly create Bar-mekko charts. Users, either on Mac or PC, can toggle between Bar-mekkos and Marimekkos by turning on the 100% axis property or turning it off to switch back from Marimekko to Bar-mekko.

Marimekko charts introduction

The Marimekko (or Mekko) chart is a two dimensional chart that is especially useful when explaining market landscapes. The Marimekko, named after the colorful Scandinavian textile design is often used by management consultants. In the example below we use a Mekko chart to convey the types of grapes grown in California.

Marimekko chart showing vineyard acres

Marimekko chart

Market segments are arranged in columns along the x-axis with the width of the column denoting the size of the segment. In the example above, grapes are segmented into red and white. The height of the columns are typically equal (in our next entry we will discuss Marimekko charts with custom heights). Each column can then also be segmented with the height of the segment representing the share that segment occupies. In the example above, the segments within a column show grape type (e.g. Cabernet). Alternatively, we could have listed the grower (e.g. Robert Mondavi).

The Mekko chart enables the reader to easily grasp the overall landscape helping them quickly discern the largest and smallest segments along two dimensions. With Aploris users can quickly create Marimekko charts and also have great deal of control with how it looks and what information the labels carry. For example, labels can be modified to list the percent of the column the segment represents or the percent of the total chart that the segment represents.