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Business Math Contribution Margin Variance


New member
May 28, 2018
Hello all,

I have an interesting question regarding contribution margin (CM) % variance and how to attack it mathematically. If not known, contribution margin is defined as gross revenues minus all variable costs. This amount effectively shows how much money you have left to 'contribute' to your fixed costs. From this naturally flows a valuable metric called the CM %, which is simply contribution dollars dived by gross revenue dollars.

Please see the attached excel file or word file for the question and all numbers pertaining to this question, but I will post the question below as well.

In total, Budget CM% for the month was 25.5% while actual CM% was 20.4%, leaving an unfavorable variance of 5.2%, roughly. The table in the excel file breaks this out by product. Management would like to know which products contributed most strongly to the overall 5.2% variance. Using the information below, is there a way to break out this 5.2% by the individual products’ performances? In other words, would we be able to show that product 1 was responsible for 2.5% of the variance and product 2 was responsible for 2.1% and so on and so on by product to where the total of each individual product's CM% would add up to the overall 5.2% CM variance? The end goal is to provide management with a chart shown below at the bottom. .

It seems we need to multiple each product’s CM% performance by a weighted factor such that the result of this multiplication would total up to the 5.2%. What weighting factor to use, and to what information of the product to apply it to (net sales?, Actual CM?) is what I am struggling with.

This is a bit complicated to explain via a message board, so please let me know if I need to clarify.

Total Budgeted CM % 25.5%
variance drivers:
Product1 -2.0%
Product2 -1.1%
Product16 -0.5%
Product20 -0.4%
Misc,other -1.2%
Total -5.2%

Total Actual CM % 20.4%