The waterfall or cascade chart below shows the number of employees working for the top 10 largest employers in the US. Each segment adds to the next allowing the reader to step through the contribution of each employer. These 10 ten companies represent 5.7M jobs and Walmart alone is 2.2M or 39% of the total.
Waterfall or cascade chart showing number of employees working at top 10 private employers in the US
This chart was built using Aploris for Mac with PowerPoint 2016.
The waterfall chart or cascade chart below explains Apple’s FY15 financials from net sales to net income. The first bar on the left shows the components that make up Apple’s sales. iPhone comprises a staggering 66% of total sales. The following hanging bars show all the cost components that lead to the last total bar, net income.
In general the waterfall chart is a great way to highlight the primary components that comprise a companies financials. It allows the reader to step through the components while understanding how all the details impact the final numbers. On a slide, it also allows for an appropriate amount of white space to help improve readability.
Waterfall chart showing Apple’s financials from sales to net income
This chart was created with the latest update of Aploris for Mac that supports Office for Mac 2016.
The waterfall or cascade chart below shows the primary components that have changed in American children’s diets between 2004 and 2012.
The baseline indicates the average caloric intake in 2004. Each bar shows the increase or decrease relative to this value across food categories. The actual value is not of primary relevance and therefore not displayed. Adding up the change values results in the total change mathematically as well as visually using this type of chart.
Components of change in daily caloric intake for US children between 2004 and 2012
This waterfall chart is rotated allowing the audience to easily read the labels. The width of each bar is proportional allowing readers to quickly discern that the change in calories is large due to a drop in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. In addition, we have used a highlight color to further draw the reader’s attention to this finding.
The waterfall chart below details the prize money distribution for the primary events at the 2015 US open. The total is $38.4M (excludes qualifying events) of which the singles events take $33M.
The waterfall or cascade chart is an effective way help readers understand the primary components: how much money is allocated to each event (bars), and how much money is allocated to the winners of each event (segments). Within each vertical bar, the horizontal segments highlight the prize money the winners take home versus all the other players. On average the winners of each event walk away with about 10% of the total prize money for that event.
Waterfall chart highlighting the breakdown of prize money for primary events at the 2015 US Open
The waterfall chart below shows all the elements that comprise the total monthly cost of a $500k home. In addition to the mortgage and regular taxes/fees, it is important for home owners to consider the impact of the down payment opportunity cost. Outside of the mortgage, it is the largest cost in this example.
We could have use a stacked bar chart to represent this data. However, the waterfall chart allows to walk the reader through all the elements and provides us with space to clearly state all the assumptions.
With Aploris’ native waterfall chart option, this charted was created in a few minutes. The data is from NY Times’ rent versus buy calculator.
Waterfall chart highlighting cost elements of home ownership
The waterfall chart below shows the indexed manufacturing cost to build goods in China and the US. The first column on the left shows the indexed cost to manufacture goods in China in 2004. The following segments highlights the elements that have increased from 2004 to 2014 (natural gas, electricity, and labor). The next full column shows the cost to manufacture goods in China in 2014. Finally, the last column shows the cost to manufacture goods in the US in 2014.
The difference arrows highlight the key takeaway: China’s manufacturing cost advantage has shrunk from 2004 to 2014. While goods were 13.5% cheaper to manufacture in China in 2004, the were only 4.4% cheaper in 2014. This is largely due to the increase in labor costs in China.
In general, waterfall charts are good data visualization tool to show of different components of a measurement (e.g. cost to manufacture) change.
The data from this chart was taken from a recent BCG study.
Waterfall chart showing the development of relative manufacturing costs between china and the US