Meaning of Variable Costing, Advantages, Disadvantages, Methods, Types

advantages of variable costing

Under variable costing, only those costs of production that vary directly with output are treated as product costs. The variable costing method requires that all costs should be divided into fixed and variable elements. Also variable costing assumes that the relation between the sales and the variable costs is direct, proportionate, and linear. Examples of factors that might affect this assumption include quantity discounts on materials, and labour efficiency variance.

  • Examples of variable costs include a manufacturing company’s costs of raw materials and packaging—or a retail company’s credit card transaction fees or shipping expenses, which rise or fall with sales.
  • By understanding the cost behavior of a company and using this information to make informed decisions, businesses can save money and improve their bottom line.
  • A company may see an increase in gross profit after paying off a mortgage or finishing the depreciation schedule on a piece of manufacturing equipment.
  • It may prompt the marketing managers to go for lower selling prices, may inspire the managers and employees to demand higher salary or bonus.

Various product and period costs can vary depending on the type of business or organization. Some examples of product costs include direct materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead. Product and period costs are essential for management accounting because they provide insights into a company’s performance. By understanding these costs, management can make better strategic decisions about pricing, production levels, and other aspects of their business. Management accounting is the process of tracking and managing a company’s product costs.

Advantages of Absorption Costing and Variable Costing

Because variable costs scale alongside, every unit of output will theoretically have the same amount of variable costs. Therefore, total variable costs can be calculated by multiplying the total quantity of output by the unit variable cost. The absorption costing method is typically the standard for most companies with COGS. Depending on the type of business structure, small businesses may also be required to use absorption costing for their tax reporting. For 50,000 units, all variable costs, such as direct material and direct labor, will be 50% of the above cost, as was incurred for 100,000 units of mobile phones.

advantages of variable costing

Fluctuations in sales and production levels can affect variable costs if factors such as sales commissions are included in per-unit production costs. Meanwhile, fixed costs must still be paid even if production slows down significantly. Using the absorption costing method will increase COGS and thus decrease gross profit per unit produced. Furthermore, it means that companies will likely show a lower gross profit margin. Customer profitability analysis is an application of segmented reporting in which a customer group is treated as a segment.


Raw materials are the direct goods purchased that are eventually turned into a final product. If the athletic brand doesn’t make the shoes, it won’t incur the cost of leather, synthetic mesh, canvas, or other raw materials. In general, a company should spend roughly the same amount on raw materials for every unit produced assuming no major differences in manufacturing one unit versus another. A variable cost is a corporate expense that changes in proportion to how much a company produces or sells.

advantages of variable costing

For this reason, variable costs are a required item for companies trying to determine their break-even point. In addition, variable costs are necessary to determine sale targets for a specific profit target. Variable and fixed costs play into the degree of operating leverage a company has. In short, fixed costs are more risky, generate a greater degree of leverage, and leaves the company with greater upside potential. On the other hand, variable costs are safer, generate less leverage, and leave the company with smaller upside potential.

Production System feedback

For example, a company manufacturing products with high indirect costs would likely use absorption costing. In contrast, a company that sells many different products might use direct costing. Ultimately, the best method of accounting for product costs depends on the company’s specific needs. However, it is important to be aware of the potential impact of absorption costing and variable costing on manufacturing decision-making.

Absorption costing is required for financial reporting under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Public companies in the United States must use absorption costing when preparing their financial statements. Variable cost and average variable cost may not always be equal due to price increase or pricing discounts. An employee’s hourly wages are a variable cost; however, that employee was promoted last year. The current variable cost will be higher than before; the average variable cost will remain something in between.

The purpose of period and product costs

Since most fixed costs are committed and can-not be avoided, these costs should not be part of inventory. Variable costing provides more useful information to management for pricing decisions than absorption costing. It is rightly contented that the best or optimum price is that which produces the maximum excess of total sales revenue over total cost. The optimum production volume is that at which increase in total cost due to the addition of one more unit of volume is just equal to the increase in total revenue or a zero increase in total profit. Many companies use both methods, depending on the type of product being produced and the nature of the company’s operations.

Why Do You Need to Know How to Read a Financial Statement?

Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, so it is crucial to understand their key differences. This article will help you understand the distinction between Absorption Costing and Variable Costing.

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