The Rhythm of Consumption

In this project, we create a set of visualizations that represent the variation of consumption in different departments of the sonae’s hypermarket chain, the biggest hypermarket’s chain in Portugal. With this project, we aim to visualise the shopping preferences, and represent how the costumers change their shopping lists over time. We focus on highlighting the rhythm/pulse of consumptions and times of the year that disrupt the normal consumption patterns.

 

The Data

 

The data consists of the consumptions in 729 Portuguese supermarkets and hypermarkets of the SONAE chains, who cover the entire country. When shopping in these chains, costumers tend to use their client cards to accumulate discounts and other benefits. Currently, the number of active cards is above 6 million, which can be considered an impressive number, specially if we take into consideration that the Portuguese population is below 11 million, and that the cards are issued by “household”, and shared by the entire family. We choose this data set due to its richness, size, quality and nature. We believe that the data set is a valuable asset of the work, offering us the opportunity to transform the consumption patterns of the Portuguese into aesthetic artifacts, while exploring, highlighting and visualizing their periodic nature.

 

We analysed all the transactions made on those supermarkets and hypermarkets from May 2012 to April 2014. Each transaction corresponds to one product bought and it has properties such as price, date, and time of its purchase. Each product is placed in the product hierarchy of the company, which has 6 levels. For this work, we aggregate all the purchases in 9 distinct categories: Grocery; Alcohol & Sweets; Health care; Beauty; Clothes; Furniture; House Care; Culture & leisure; Pets & Nature Care.

 

Representation

 

The products of the hierarchy where characterized in three types of consumption: essential; non-essential; unknown. We represent the type of consumption thorough color, using red, green and grey for the non-essential, essential and unknown products, respectively. Then, to differentiate all the categories, and once this representation should have less emphasis on the visualization, but at the same time, be distinguishable, we defined 9 different shapes for each category.

 
 

Categories and their types: (a) Clothes, essential; (b) Health Care, essential; (c) Grocery, essential; (d) Culture & Leisure, non-essential; (e) Beauty, non-essential; (f) Alcohol & Sweets, non-essential; (g) Pets &; Nature Care, unknown; (h) House Care, unknown; (i) Furniture, unknown.
Figure 1

Categories and their types: (a) Clothes, essential; (b) Health Care, essential; (c) Grocery, essential; (d) Culture & Leisure, non-essential; (e) Beauty, non-essential; (f) Alcohol & Sweets, non-essential; (g) Pets & Nature Care, unknown; (h) House Care, unknown; (i) Furniture, unknown.

 
 

For the final representation, we create two different outputs, a classical small multiples visualization and its visualization through a video.

 
 

Representations of the 24 months, from April 2012 (first row) to May 2014 (last row). All days are aligned by the week day and the values are normalised by the maximum value of the corresponding category.
Figure 2

Representations of the 24 months, from April 2012 (first row) to May 2014 (last row). All days are aligned by the week day and the values are normalised by the maximum value of the corresponding category.

 

The two representations have two different objectives: the static aims for a more analytical representation, and the video aims for a more visual/entertaining representation. In the static representation, we can see how the consumptions are affected by the special events and vacations, and easily compare different days which are distant from each other. In the video visualization, we can see the difference between the days which are close to each other.

 
 

 
 

In Collections

  • C. Maçãs and P. Machado, “The Rhythm of Consumptions,” in IEEE VIS Arts Program, Baltimore, EUA: , 2016.

In Proceedings

  • C. Maçãs and P. Machado, “The Rhythm of Consumptions,” in Expressive 2016 – Proceedings of the Joint Symposium Expressive 2016, co-located with the Eurographics 2016, 2016.