A marginal cost is another term for a variable cost. The term ‘marginal cost’ is usually applied to the variable cost of a unit of product or service, whereas the term ‘variable cost’ is more commonly applied to resource costs, such as the cost of materials and labour hours.
Marginal costing is a form of management accounting based on the distinction between:
a. the marginal costs of making selling goods or services, and
b. fixed costs, which should be the same for a given period of time, regardless of the level of activity in the period.
Suppose that a firm makes and sells a single product that has a marginal cost of £5 per unit and that sells for £9 per unit. For every additional unit of the product that is made and sold, the firm will incur an extra cost of £5 and receive income of £9. The net gain will be £4 per additional unit. This net gain per unit, the difference between the sales price per unit and the marginal cost per unit, is called contribution.
Contribution is a term meaning ‘making a contribution towards covering fixed costs and making a profit’. Before a firm can make a profit in any period, it must first of all cover its fixed costs. Breakeven is where total sales revenue for a period just covers fixed costs, leaving neither profit nor loss. For every unit sold in excess of the breakeven point, profit will increase by the amount of the contribution per unit.
C-V-P analysis is broadly known as cost-volume-profit analysis. Specifically speaking, we all are concerned with in-depth analysis and application of CVP in practical world of industry management.