What Is Variable Cost?

If you’re looking to understand and optimize the cost of goods in your business, then it’s essential that you understand variable cost. Variable cost is an important part of any businesses financial model, as it can help determine what variables are driving their costs up or down. In this blog post, we will dive into the details of variable cost and how understanding it can help you effectively manage your finances. We will cover what it is, how to calculate it, and also discuss some strategies for reducing costs. Read on to learn more about variable cost and how it can be used to improve your bottom line.

What is variable cost?

Variable cost is a type of cost that changes in proportion to the amount of output produced by a company. Variable costs include raw materials, labor, and other direct costs incurred in the production process. A company’s total variable cost is the sum of all its individual variable costs.

A key concept in business and economics, understanding variable costs is essential for managerial decision-making. For example, when a company is trying to decide whether to increase production, it must consider the effect that this will have on its variable costs. If the marginal cost of production (the additional cost of producing one more unit) exceeds the selling price, then the company will lose money by increasing production. On the other hand, if marginal cost is less than selling price, then increasing production will be profitable.

In general, a company can reduce its variable costs by increasing efficiency and productivity in its manufacturing process. For example, a company might implement new technology or processes that allow it to produce more output with fewer inputs (labor, raw materials, etc.). Alternatively, a company might choose to outsource its manufacturing to another company that has lower variable costs.

How is variable cost used?

Variable cost is a term used in business that refers to a cost that changes in relation to the amount of goods or services produced. For example, if a company produces more products, it will have higher variable costs. Variable costs can include things like raw materials, labor, and commissions.

What are some examples of variable cost?

Variable costs are those costs that fluctuate with production volume. They rise and fall as production volume increases or decreases. Examples of variable costs include raw materials, direct labor, and sales commissions.

How do you calculate variable cost?

To calculate variable cost, you need to know the total cost of production and the amount of output produced. To find the total cost of production, you add up all the costs that are directly related to the production of goods or services. This includes things like raw materials, labor, and overhead. The amount of output is simply how much was produced during a given period of time.

Once you have these two numbers, you can calculate your variable cost by dividing the total cost of production by the amount of output. This will give you your variable cost per unit of output. You can then use this number to figure out your total variable costs for any given period of time by multiplying it by the amount of output produced during that period.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of using variable cost?

There are both benefits and drawbacks to using variable cost. One benefit is that it can help a company to save money in the short-term. This is because variable costs are generally lower than fixed costs. For example, if a company needs to produce 100 widgets, the variable cost of production will be lower than the fixed cost of production. This means that the company can save money by producing more widgets in the short-term.

However, there are also some drawbacks to using variable cost. One drawback is that it can lead to higher costs in the long-term. This is because companies often have to increase production in order to meet demand. If demand increases and production remains static, then prices will rise and the company will incur higher costs. Additionally, if a company relies too heavily on variable cost, it may find it difficult to expand or grow in the future.


Understanding what variable costs are and how they differ from fixed costs is an important part of budgeting for businesses. Variable costs can easily fluctuate depending on the number of goods produced or services rendered, so it’s essential to know when these changes occur. Making sure that you have a good handle on your variable costs will enable you to make informed decisions about pricing, production levels and other business operations in order to maximize profits.

Want to find out more about procurement?

Access more blogs, articles and FAQ's relating to procurement

Oboloo transparent

The smarter way to have full visibility & control of your suppliers


Feel free to contact us here. Our support team will get back to you as soon as possible

Oboloo transparent

The smarter way to have full visibility & control of your suppliers


Feel free to contact us here. Our support team will get back to you as soon as possible

© 2023 oboloo Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of oboloo content, including by framing or similar means, is prohibited without the prior written consent of oboloo Limited. oboloo, Be Supplier Smart and the oboloo logo are registered trademarks of oboloo Limited and its affiliated companies. Trademark numbers: UK00003466421 & UK00003575938 Company Number 12420854. ICO Reference Number: ZA764971