Cost-Based Pricing Strategy: Definition, Formula, Examples

Joanna Okedara
Table of Contents
    Thank you! Please check your inbox now for your welcome email.
    There was an issue with the form. Please try again.
    Key Takeaway: One pricing strategy that has stood the test of time is cost-based pricing. It's a method that's as straightforward as it is essential, allowing business owners to navigate the intricate landscape of setting prices with confidence.

    Imagine setting a price that not only covers what it costs to produce your offering but also ensures you make a profit – that's the essence of cost-based pricing. So, what is cost-based pricing?

    Let's say you own a cozy neighborhood restaurant business known for its delectable wholesale pasta and spaghetti Bolognese. To determine the price for this beloved dish, you must first tally up all the costs involved. 

    This includes the cost of ingredients like the different types of pasta, tomatoes, ground beef, and wholesale spices, as well as expenses for the chef's time, wholesale restaurant supplies, and any overhead costs like the rent of your brick-and-mortar space and utilities.

    Suppose the cost to produce a serving of spaghetti Bolognese amounts to $5. To ensure a reasonable profit margin, the restaurant might apply a 50% markup, making the final menu price $10. 

    In this article, we will discuss cost-based pricing strategies, formulas, and various examples. Let’s get started!


    Cost-Based Pricing Definition

    Cost-based pricing is when a business owner decides how much to charge for something by figuring out how much it costs to make or provide. They add a bit extra (called a "markup") to make a profit. 

    To do this, you need to calculate all the expenses for making the product or delivering the service, like ingredients or materials, workers' pay, and other bills. Then, you'll add a bit extra, which is your profit, and that's the wholesale vs. retail price your customers will pay. It's a simple way to make sure you cover your production costs and make some money too.

    One of the downsides of the cost-based strategy is that it doesn’t consider other factors like what competitors charge, what customers are willing to pay for the products, or if there's a special value your business provides that might justify a higher price. 

    9 Cost-Based Pricing Types

    Here are some common types of cost-based pricing:

    1. Full-Cost Pricing: Full-cost pricing involves considering both fixed and variable costs associated with producing a product or delivering a service. In full-cost pricing, the business calculates the total of both fixed and variable costs and then adds a desired profit margin or markup percentage to set the final selling price.
    2. Direct-Cost Pricing: Direct-cost pricing focuses primarily on variable costs associated with producing a product or service. Fixed costs are not included in the pricing calculation. The selling price is determined by adding a markup or profit margin only to the variable costs, providing a simpler and more flexible pricing model.
    3. Margin Pricing: Margin pricing is the reverse of markup pricing. Instead of adding a markup percentage, a desired profit margin percentage is applied to the total cost. If the desired margin is 30%, and the product cost is $100, the selling price would be $130.
    4. Target Return Pricing: With this method, a business sets prices to achieve a specific target return on investment or profit margin. It calculates the necessary selling price based on the desired return and the total cost.
    5. Cost-Plus Pricing: Cost-plus pricing is a broader term that encompasses various cost-based pricing strategies. It involves adding a markup or margin to the cost to determine the selling price.
    6. Absorption Cost Pricing: In manufacturing, this approach considers all production costs, including variable and fixed costs, as well as allocated overhead costs. It ensures that the selling price covers the total cost per unit.
    7. Activity-Based Costing (ABC) Pricing: ABC pricing allocates costs to specific activities or processes and then assigns these costs to products or services based on their usage of those activities. It offers a more accurate way to determine product costs.
    8. Standard Cost Pricing: This method uses predetermined standard costs for materials, labor, and overhead. The selling price is set based on these standards, allowing for better cost control and performance evaluation.
    9. Marginal Cost Pricing: Marginal cost pricing focuses on covering only the variable costs associated with producing one additional unit of a product. It's often used in situations where maximizing short-term profit is essential.

    Cost-Based Pricing Strategy Advantages

    Here are a few advantages of cost-based pricing strategies:

    • Transparency and Credibility: Cost-based pricing brings transparency to the table. When you can break down the price for your clients, showing them it's based on the actual production and operational costs, it builds trust. 
    • Simplicity and Ease of Use: It's like having a trusty tool in your toolkit. Cost-based pricing is straightforward and easy to understand. You calculate your costs, add a reasonable markup for profit, and voila! You've got a price. 
    • Financial Security and Risk Management: Picture a safety net. You know you're covering all your costs and making a profit. It minimizes the risks of unexpected financial surprises and helps in making informed business decisions.
    • Baseline for Vendor Negotiations: Think of cost-based pricing as your starting line in a negotiation race. You know your bottom dollar, the minimum you can accept while still ensuring your costs are covered. 
    • Consistent Profitability: Cost-based pricing is like having a steady income stream. Once you’ve factored in your costs and profit margin, it is easier to ensure that every eCommerce sale contributes positively to your bottom line. It's a reliable way to maintain consistent profitability in your business.

    Cost-Based Pricing Strategy Examples

    Let’s look at some examples of cost-based strategies:

    1. Food and Beverage Industry: Imagine a small-scale wholesale craft beer production company that specializes in creating different types of craft beer. To employ a cost-based pricing strategy, they meticulously calculate the cost of wholesale grains, labor, bottling, eCommerce packaging, wholesale food packaging, and overhead expenses. Let's say the total cost per bottle of craft beer amounts to $2. To ensure profitability, they decide on a 40% markup. Consequently, the final selling price per bottle is set at $2.80, covering all production expenses and generating a satisfactory profit margin.
    2. Restaurant Industry: In the bustling restaurant industry, cost-based pricing is a fundamental approach to setting menu prices. Let's take a classic Italian restaurant offering a popular pasta and seafood dish. The restaurant calculates the cost of ingredients (pasta, sauce, vegetables, wholesale seafood, wholesale meat), cooking time, and the portion size, which totals to $6. Applying a 60% markup to account for overheads, staff wages, and profit, the pasta dish is priced at $9.60. This ensures the restaurant covers its costs while making a profit with each serving.
    3. Wholesale Distribution Industry: Within the wholesale distribution industry, consider a company specializing in providing wholesale restaurant supplies such as wholesale pasta, wholesale flour, organic spices, wholesale herbs, wholesale microgreens, and wholesale ice cream to local eateries. The company analyzes the expenses related to sourcing these items, storage, shipping and handling, and operating costs. After calculating all costs, they add a 20% markup to ensure profitability. For instance, if the cost of a package of pasta is $4, the selling price to restaurants becomes $4.80, allowing the wholesale distributor to maintain a healthy margin while supplying essential products to restaurants.

    Cost-Based Pricing Formula

    So, how do you calculate cost-based pricing? Let’s see!

    1. Calculate Total Production Costs

    The first step in the cost-based pricing formula involves calculating all the expenses associated with producing a product or delivering a service. 

    1. Determine Variable and Fixed Costs 

    Once all the costs are identified, it's essential to distinguish between variable and fixed costs.

    1. Calculate Total Cost Per Unit

    After categorizing costs, calculate the total cost per unit by summing up both variable and fixed costs. This provides a clear picture of the overall expense incurred to produce each unit of the product or service. 

    The formula for total cost per unit is:

    Total Cost per Unit = (Total Fixed Costs + Total Variable Costs) / Total Number of Units Produced
    1. Add Desired Profit Margin (Markup)

    The next step is to decide on the profit margin, typically expressed as a percentage, that you want to add to the total cost per unit. This profit margin accounts for desired profitability and business sustainability. 

    The formula to add the profit margin is:

    Selling Price per Unit = Total Cost per Unit + (Total Cost per Unit × Markup Percentage)
    1. Set the Final Selling Price

    Once you've calculated the selling price using the desired markup, this becomes the final selling price of your product or service. It's the price you will present to customers, covering all your costs and allowing for a profit margin that aligns with your business goals and market positioning.

    Cost-Based Pricing Calculator

    Cost-Based Pricing Calculator

    Step 1: Calculate Total Production Costs

    Step 2: Determine Variable and Fixed Costs

    Total Cost per Unit: $

    Step 3: Add Desired Profit Margin (Markup)

    Selling Price: $

    Frequently Asked Questions About Cost-Based Pricing Strategy

    In highly competitive markets, relying solely on cost-based pricing might mean you're missing out on potential profits or market share. It is important to consider other factors when setting your price - competitor’s pricing, customer willingness to pay, and even the demand for the product.

    Let’s answer a few questions about cost-based pricing:

    What is Price-Based Costing?

    Price-based costing is a pricing analysis strategy in which the selling price of a product or service is determined by calculating the total cost of production and adding a desired profit margin. 

    What are the 3 Benefits of Cost-Based Pricing?

    The three benefits of cost-based pricing are:

    • Profitability Control
    • Cost Recovery
    • Simplicity and ease of use

    What are the Two Types of Cost-Based Pricing?

    The two types of cost-based pricing are:

    • Full-cost pricing
    • Direct-cost pricing
    Book a Demo
    Streamline order management, grow your bottom line, and get back hours of your time with BlueCart. Schedule a demo now:
    Thank you! Your submission has been received!
    Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.