Visual Survey Analysis in Marketing

Visual Survey Analysis in Marketing

Marko Robnik-Šikonja (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Koen Vanhoof (Hasselt University, Belgium)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-102-7.ch009


The authors present a use and visualization of the ordinal evaluation (OrdEval) algorithm as a promising technique to study questionnaire data. The OrdEval algorithm is a general tool to analyze data with ordinal attributes, including surveys. It has many favorable features, including context sensitivity, ability to exploit meaning of ordered features and ordered response, robustness to noise and missing values in the data, and visualization capability. The authors select customer (dis)satisfaction analysis, an important problem from marketing research, as a case study and present visual analysis on two practical applications: business-to-business and costumer-to-business customer satisfaction studies. They demonstrate some interesting advantages offered by the new methodology and visualization and show how to extract and interpret new insights not available with classical analytical toolbox.
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In recent years we have observed large changes in economy in general and marketing in particular as a result of internet expansion, globalization, and ubiquitous information availability. One of the scientific fields which gained momentum as a result of this was data analysis under various names: statistics, data mining, machine learning, intelligent data analysis, knowledge discovery. Many new data analysis techniques emerged which exploit availability of more and different data from several sources, and increased computational power of nowadays computers. Some examples of these techniques are support vector machines, text analytics, association rules, ensemble techniques, subgroup discovery, etc. These techniques have been accepted into analytics’ standard toolbox in many disciplines: genetics, engineering, medicine, vision, statistics, marketing, etc.

The OrdEval algorithm (Robnik-Šikonja & Vanhoof, 2007) is a novel analytical tool which emerged in data mining context aiming to evaluate the importance and the impact of various factors in the given data (e.g., survey). For example, in the analysis of customer satisfaction data for a particular product/service, OrdEval can determine the importance of each product’s feature to the overall customer’s satisfaction, and also indicate the thresholds where satisfaction with the individual feature starts having a strong positive or negative impact on the overall satisfaction. The output of OrdEval are probabilistic factors indicating the probability that increase/decrease in the individual feature or the feature’s value will have impact on the dependent variable. The intuition behind this approach is to approximate the inner workings of the decision process taking place in each individual respondent, which forms the relationship between the features and the response. If such brain introspection would be possible one could observe a causal effect that the change of a feature’s value has on the response value. By measuring such an effect we could reason about the importance of the feature’s values and the type of the attribute. Also, we could determine which values are thresholds for change of behavior. While this is impossible, OrdEval algorithm uses the data sample and approximates this reasoning. For each respondent it selects its most similar respondents and makes inferences based on them. For example, to evaluate the effect an increase in a certain feature value would have on the overall satisfaction, the algorithm computes the probability for such an effect from the similar respondents with increased value of that feature. To get statistically valid and practically interesting results the overall process is repeated for a large enough number of respondents, and weighted with large enough number of similar respondents.

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