How to Calculate Contribution Margin: 8 Steps with Pictures


what does contribution margin mean

Variable costs, such as implants, vary directly with the volume of cases performed. The concept of contribution margin is applicable at various levels of manufacturing, business segments, and products. Unlike net income, contribution margin provides a look at individual product metrics rather than overall business numbers.

And many e-commerce platforms have enough accounting systems built-in to give you the numbers you need. But it’s still valuable to understand what’s behind the numbers and how you can use them to optimize your decision making. A product’s profit contribution can be forecast across the entire life cycle of a product, helping businesses plan for sustained success and extend the what does contribution margin mean life cycle of their business. The contribution margin is a key component in computing a company’s break-even point. There are different formulas for calculating the contribution margin, depending on which aspect you want to look at more closely. These can fluctuate from time to time, such as the cost of electricity or certain supplies that depend on supply chain status.

What Is the Difference Between Contribution Margin and Profit Margin?

These costs vary depending on the volume of units produced or services rendered. Variable costs rise as production increases and falls as the volume of output decreases. On the other hand, a company is not required to externally disclose its amount of variable costs. In its financial statements, it is not required to bifurcate fixed expenses from variable costs.

Furthermore, per unit variable costs remain constant for a given level of production. A product’s contribution margin will largely depend on the product, industry, company structure, and competition. Though the best possible contribution margin is 100% (there are no variable costs), this may mean a company is highly levered and is locked into many fixed contracts. A good contribution margin is positive as this means a company is able to use proceeds from sales to cover fixed costs.


The higher the number, the better a company is at covering its overhead costs with money on hand. This highlights the importance of keeping a constant pulse on a product’s contribution margin to eliminate unforeseen changes and ensure sustained profitability. Contribution margin is a great measure for adding or keeping products in your product portfolio.

what does contribution margin mean

The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters. With all this information, she can determine her average sales needs by day, week, and month as well as per service. With the reality of these numbers, she’d want to optimize contribution by dedicating more space for and pushing sales for more grilled cheeses.

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That is, it refers to the additional money that your business generates after deducting the variable costs of manufacturing your products. It is important to assess the contribution margin for break-even or target income analysis. The target number of units that need to be sold in order for the business to break even is determined by dividing the fixed costs by the contribution margin per unit. Yes, contribution margin will be equal to or higher than gross margin because gross margin includes fixed overhead costs. As contribution margin excludes fixed costs, the amount of expenses used to calculate contribution margin will likely always be less than gross margin. Because gross margin encompasses all costs necessary to manufacture a good, some may argue it is a more transparent figure.



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