How to Calculate Contribution Margin and its Ratio?

At the point of running an organization, it is essential to see how productive it is. Numerous managers consider the net revenue that processes the total sum by which income from sales surpasses expenses. However, in case you need to know how a particular item adds to the organization’s benefit, you have to consider the contribution margin.

What Is Contribution Margin (CM)?

The contribution margin is the deviation or difference between the sales revenue and variable costs of a business. It shows the increased sales revenue made for every item/unit sold subsequent to subtracting the variable share of the organization’s expenses. Typically, we can express this margin on either a gross or per-unit basis.

The gross basis here refers to the total dollar or amount as a result of subtracting the sales revenue from total variable costs. While per unit basis refers to the difference between the selling price per unit and variable costs per unit.

How to Calculate the Contribution Margin (CM)?

We can calculate the CM by subtracting the sale cost of an item and the variable expenses related to its creation and sales revenue. Sales minus variable costs is called a dollar contribution per unit, this demonstrates how a specific item adds to the benefit of the organization as a whole.

Contribution Margin Per Unit = (Sales − Variable Costs)/Units Sold

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Contribution Margin in Dollar = Sales – Variable Costs

The CM ratio indicates the percentage of every transaction dollar. The above formula is likewise utilized as a ratio, to reach an answer in terms, below:

Contribution Margin Ratio = (Sales − Variable Costs) / Sales Revenue

It gives an approach to indicate the benefit capability of a specific item offered by an organization and shows the amount of sales that assists with the covering of the organization’s fixed expenses. Any outstanding income remaining subsequent to taking care of fixed expenses is the benefit created.

Example and Interpretation

Suppose that Pup n Suds Grooming got $40,000 income a month ago. At the point, they notice their income statement; these are the accompanying variable expenses:

  • Materials (like Detergent): $2,000
  • Payroll: $17,500
  • Water Services: $1,150
  • Dog Food: $250

From the example above, we can calculate the contribution margin both in dollar and percentage as below:

Contribution Margin in Dollar = Sales – Variable Costs


Sales revenue = $40,000

Variable cots = $20,900

Therefore, CM in Dollar = $40,000 – $20,900 = $19,100

On the other hand, we can calculate the contribution margin ratio or in percentage as follow:

CM Ratio = (Sales – Variable Costs)/Sales Revenue

Therefor, CM Ratio = ($40,000 – $20,900/40,000 = 47.75%

From the calculation above, by including the variable expenses, Pup n Suds used up $20,900 on variable costs. So after deducting that from the $40,000 they acquired from sales, it can be noted that they have $19,100 or 47.75% CM remaining to pay for the fixed costs.

What Is a Good Contribution Margin?

A good CM will cover the expenses of producing the item and, preferably, create a benefit from it. When the contribution margin is negative or excessively less, it indicates an organization’s loss.

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It will be better if the CM ratio or percent is closer to 100%. The greater the ratio, the greater cash is accessible to fulfill the business’ extra costs or fixed expenses. Nonetheless, almost certainly, the CM ratio is well beneath 100 percent, and likely below 50 percent.

Contribution Margin vs Gross Margin

Gross Margin

Gross margin, also known as gross profit margin. It incorporates income and direct production costs. It excludes any working costs, for example, sales and promoting costs, or different expenses or loan interest. Gross margin comprises of a manufacturing plant’s worker and direct materials expenses, yet the managerial expenses for running the corporate office are not included.

Gross margin tells if an organization is producing income from direct costs finely, for example, direct workers and direct materials costs. We determine the gross margin by subtracting COGS from revenue and dividing the outcome by revenue. The percentage can be achieved by multiplying the outcome by 100.

Contribution Margin (CM)

The contribution margin is the income left over after the variable costs of creating a product are subtracted. It computes the benefit for items that an organization sells after producing. In particular, the CM is utilized to audit the variable costs involved during the creation of a product. It is normally communicated as a rate.

Basis of Comparison  

The below table describes the basis of the comparison between CM and gross margin.         

Basis of ComparisonContribution Margin (CM)Gross Margin
MeaningSales price subtracted from the sum of variable expenses, where direct expenses incorporate material, workers, and payments.Sales subtracted from the expense of items sold.
SignificantUtilized for estimating the outcomes. Negative contribution margins indicate the product offering may not be beneficial.It demonstrates whether the sales are sufficient to keep up with the expenses of creation.
Formula(sales – variable expenses) / sales(Revenue – COGS)/revenue
Benefit metricUtilized for examining the per product benefit metric.It is valuable for examining the complete benefit metric.
Variable and fixed costIt incorporates the variable costs at the time of the count.It includes both fixed and variable costs linked with the creation of the items at the time of the count.
ApplicationHelpful for various situation analysis.It is utilized for recorded figures or projections with the explicit sales price.

Why Is Contribution Margin Important?

At the point of an organization choosing the cost of selling its item, contribution margin is usually utilized as a viewpoint for analysis. Fixed expenses normally take a major market share –so, the overall revenue should be as per the needs to keep the expenses of a business functioning. A negative or less CM demonstrates an item offering or business might not be beneficial, so it isn’t smart to produce the item at its present sales value.

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It is critical to survey the contribution margin for breakeven analysis or target revenue analysis. The objective number of units that should be offered together for the business to breakeven is controlled by dividing the fixed expenses by the CM. When it is not enough to cover fixed expenses, it suggests that there is not much profit to make it worth keeping. Removing less contribution margin items can decidedly affect an organization’s general contribution margin.


The contribution margin ratio can be utilized as a proportion of an organization’s benefit just as a proportion of how beneficial a specific product is. Assessing the CM ratio for a specific brand or item can help decide whether it works well for the organization to keep selling it at its present cost. To enhance an organization’s CM you need to diminish variable costs or increment the cost of your items and administrations.

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