They are essential in assisting businesses with various decision-making processes, from pricing, product discontinuation, and manufacturing to resource allocation and strategic planning. Differential costs, sometimes called incremental, are the overall costs incurred while choosing between several options. Incremental analysis only focuses on the differences between two courses of action. These different aspects—not similarities—form the basis of the comparison. Incremental analysis is a problem-solving approach that applies accounting information to decision making.

There is a requirement to create a spreadsheet that tracks costs and output. The incremental revenue of Rs. 10,000 is much more than the differential cost of Rs. 3,000, it will increase the profit by Rs. 7,000. Marginal costing also provides insights into the concept of breakeven analysis.

  • Analyzing this difference is called differential analysis (or incremental analysis).
  • Consider a corporation that manufactures plastic bags and purchases innovative equipment to double its present production of plastic bags.
  • Differential costs are a key idea in the fields of business and economics.
  • The general rule is to select the alternative with the highest differential profit.
  • The format is similar to the differential analysis format used for making product line decisions.

As a result, determining the costs is an important role in management decision making. Since a differential cost is only used for management decision making, there is no accounting entry for it. There is also no accounting standard that mandates how the cost is to be calculated. Similarly, organizations can utilize differential cost analysis to identify the most cost-effective choice when deciding whether to outsource or internalize specific operations. Companies frequently experience resource limitations due to a lack of funds, labor, or materials.

Differential costs are a key idea in the fields of business and economics. When the two are compared, it is evident that the incremental revenue exceeds the incremental cost. So, you get a profit of $4,000,000 by deducting the incremental cost from the incremental revenue. You calculate your incremental cost by multiplying the number of smartphone units by the production cost per smartphone unit. Differential cost is the change in cost that results from adoption of an alternative course of action. It can be determined simply by subtracting cost of one alternative from cost of another alternative or from the cost at one level of activity, the cost at another level of activity.

1.1 Change in level of production;

The reason for the relatively small incremental cost per unit is due to the cost behavior of certain costs. For example, when the 2,000 additional units are manufactured most fixed costs will not change in total although a few fixed costs could increase. Understanding incremental expenses can assist a business in improving its efficiency and saving money.

Companies are frequently forced to choose between different business solutions at varying costs. Companies may make sure that their pricing covers all costs while remaining competitive in the market by understanding the incremental costs linked to producing extra units. Regardless of the choice chosen, sunken costs are expenses that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered. Because these costs are constant regardless of the choice made, they are irrelevant in differential cost analysis. They assist businesses in determining which financial option is the best one among various alternatives. While the company is still able to make a profit on this special order, the company must consider the ramifications of operating at full capacity.

One of the key attributes of marginal costing is its contribution margin analysis. Contribution margin represents the difference between sales revenue and variable costs. It indicates the amount available to cover fixed costs and contribute towards profit.

The variable costs are related directly to each product line, and thus are eliminated if the product line is eliminated. Analyzing this difference is called differential analysis (or incremental analysis). Sunk costs are costs that a company has already incurred but cannot be reduced by any managerial decision. For example, suppose a corporation buys a machine that quickly becomes obsolete, and the products created by the equipment can no longer be sold to clients. In management accounting, the idea of cost refers to the amount paid or surrendered to get something.

Disadvantages Of Differential Cost

This is an example to further appreciate the distinction between incremental cost and incremental revenue. Imagine you own a smartphone manufacturing company that expects to sell 20,000 devices. Each smartphone costs you $100 to produce, and your selling price each smartphone is $300. The calculation of incremental cost shows how costs alter as production grows. The primary purpose of conducting a differential analysis is decision-making. Differential costing, also known as incremental costing, focuses on analyzing the difference in costs between alternative courses of action.

Example of Differential Cost and Incremental Cost

Another important aspect of differential costing is its consideration of both variable and fixed costs. Variable costs change in direct proportion to the level of activity, while fixed costs remain constant within a certain range of activity. By analyzing the differential costs, managers can assess the impact of changes in activity levels on the overall cost structure of the business. Alternatively, once incremental costs exceed incremental revenue for a unit, the company takes a loss for each item produced. Therefore, knowing the incremental cost of additional units of production and comparing it to the selling price of these goods assists in meeting profit goals.


Sunk costs—costs incurred in the past that cannot be modified by future decisions—are not differential costs since they cannot be changed by future decisions. Direct fixed costs—fixed costs that can be connected directly to a product line or customer—are differential costs and thus relevant in decision making. While variable costs fluctuate in direct proportion to production or activity levels, fixed costs are constant regardless of the degree of production. Knowing the difference between the two makes determining which expenses apply to a certain decision easier. Let’s say, as an example, a company is considering increasing their production of goods but needs to understand the incremental costs involved.

It also gives managers quantitative analysis that serves as the foundation for formulating firm strategies. It consists of labour and material costs that vary with production; for example, as production increases, labour and material costs rise, and vice versa. It is computed by dividing the variable cost per unit of output by the number of units. It’s important to note that businesses also consider other factors, such as market demand and competition, in addition to differential costs when making pricing and manufacturing decisions.

NET FIXED ASSETS: Definition, Formula & How To Calculate It

Incremental costs can also help you decide whether to make a product or buy it elsewhere. Understanding the additional costs of increasing a product’s manufacturing is beneficial when deciding the retail price of the product. Companies seek to maximize production levels and profitability by analyzing the incremental costs of manufacturing. When evaluating a business segment’s profitability, only relevant incremental costs that can be directly linked to the business segment are examined. Differential costs assist decision makers while making a choice between different alternatives.

Differential cost and incremental cost are two different concepts, though at times they are interchangeably used. The former is defined as a future cost that differs from one alternative to another, while the latter represents an increase in cost of one alternative over the cost of another. Incremental costs are the extra expenses spent when a business produces one more unit of a product, offers an additional service, or takes a certain action. These expenses are directly related to the increasing output or activity by one unit.

As a result, while both ideas are related to a cost shift, marginal cost relates to both a rise and a decrease in production. In other words, incremental costs are exclusively determined by the amount of output. Fixed costs, such as rent and overhead, are excluded from incremental cost analysis since they normally do not vary with output quantities. Furthermore, fixed costs can be difficult to allocate to a certain business area.

When the differential revenue exceeds the differential cost, management will opt to expand the level of output. From the above information, we see that the incremental cost of manufacturing the additional 2,000 units (10,000 vs. 8,000) is $40,000 ($360,000 vs. $320,000). Therefore, for these 2,000 additional units, the incremental manufacturing cost per unit of product will be an average of $20 ($40,000 divided by 2,000 units).

It is a useful tool for making strategic decisions in various business contexts. Its numerous uses are essential for maximizing revenue, allocating resources efficiently, and attaining strategic objectives. Deciding how much to charge for goods or services is an essential choice for any organization. 71 passive income ideas to stop trading time for money Costs that can be avoided or eliminated by choosing one option over another are known as avoidable costs. These expenses are important when deciding whether to end a project, department, or product line. They depict the alteration in costs that results from a particular choice.