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How to Quickly Achieve Chart Clarity, Not Chart Disparity in Today’s World of Category Management

When using charts and graphs to paint a performance picture or to communicate an important point, it is all to easy to confuse the audience, by over complicating and blurring the message by trying to add far too much detail. A simple rule of thumb should be one observation, one insight and one recommendation. This is the difference between chart clarity, not chart disparity.

The below three images and explanations, show  how you can clean things up and get your point across with even more chart clarity:

Here is a great example of what bad looks like…

This chart is trying to communicate many things about something. You can see an overly complicated mess of a chart, that the creator has lovingly made and whom is desperate to communicate many things, when only one  insight is really needed. To much data, data that is too old, plus a host of unnecessary formatting. The audience will get lost almost immediately, no matter how great the explanation is. Let’s remove many of the elements and see how it improves.

Many Complicated Things Chart - Category Management

Here is the same data, simplified, minus some ‘noise’…

Better, but, what is the key message that needs to be taken away?

Sales Value and Volume Performance for the Last 12 Months, simplified chart

It is better, many of the unnecessary elements have been removed, including the data table (why show the same data twice?). The different chart types have been removed, we no longer have bars, lines and area charts all within the same graph. The title is still an issues, it is basically just telling us what the chart is showing, we can already see that, so it’s a waste.

Lets try again, same data and with a title that isn’t just saying what the chart is…

Base Sales Increase Post Promotion - Simple Line Graph

Bingo! – the audience now gets it. ‘Promotions lead to new customers that continue buying – lets do another promotion’. We now have chart clarity not chart disparity.

For further tips and information, you can take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Category Management and our Category Management YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog to see more Category Management tips and articles.

Interested in training? See how our full Category Management Training, Category Management Training Masterclass, or our e learning Category Management courses could be of help to you.

Andy Palmer

About Andy Palmer

Andy started at the coal face with eight years in food retailing. Prior to joining MBM he then spent five years in the supply base in positions of category analysis, category management and account management. He works as part of the team enabling suppliers to UK supermarkets to secure more profitable wins through people development. He specialises in Category Management Training and is a qualified HBDI practitioner.

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