Incremental Analysis – Definition

Cite this article as:"Incremental Analysis – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated January 30, 2020, last accessed October 21, 2020,


Incremental Analysis Definition

The incremental analysis, also known as differential or marginal analysis, is a tool in accounting that businesses use to make short-term decisions. It identifies potential changes in revenues and costs that arise from the existing alternative and choose that which will result in the highest net income or the lowest price. The incremental analysis usually disregards any past or sunk cost, and it is useful when working on a business strategy such as to outsource a function or self-produce it.

A Little More on What is Incremental Analysis

Incremental analysis models consist of relevant costs that are divided into variable cost and fixed cost, respectively. The analysis puts into consideration opportunity costs that refer to the missed opportunity when you choose one alternative leaving out the other to ensure that a firm pursues a favorable option.

In other words, it identifies the revenues and costs that are relevant to the decision making process. The incremental analysis concentrates only on values that are relevant and removes the need to come up with comparative data for those costs that are irrelevant. The model works on speeding up the process of decision making.

The analysis’s primary concern is the costs that are likely to change in the future if you choose one alternative over another. So, the unchanging costs resulting from selecting an alternative is ignored to decide which option to pursue.

A good example is sunk costs, which are typically ignored because they have already been suffered. Also, where there is a possibility that the two alternatives will incur any other types of costs, such can be ignored.

Main Cost and Revenue Components to Consider

Sunk costs: It refers to a loss that has already been incurred by a business, and there is no chance of the company recovering it in the future. Since such historical expenses cannot change or disappear, they have no impact on future decisions.

In other words, whether or not you purchase a new asset to replace the other one, the book value of the currently owned and previously purchased asset will not change at all. It means that they are irrelevant to the incremental analysis model.

Opportunity costs: It refers to the benefits lost when a company decides to choose another alternative over the other one. They usually are relevant costs for incremental analysis model

Related costs: Refers to those values that are capable of changing depending on the decision reached. It refers to costs and revenues that differ between alternatives, as opposed to those that remain the same.

Types of Incremental Analysis

There are many business situations in which you can use incremental analysis accounting. They include:

  • The decision on whether to accept or reject a particular order. In most cases, special orders are usually lower compared to their usual selling price. The incremental analysis will, therefore, help to allocate scarce resources to several product lines so that they can be used to maximize profits.
  • Incremental analysis can also be used when making decisions on where to buy goods or produce, remove a project, or rebuild an asset. The analysis model also gives you an insight into whether to continue creating a particular product or sell it at a given point in the manufacturing process.
  • Another situation where firms can make use of incremental analysis is when deciding whether to make or buy products, accept additional business, sell or process products further, do away with a product or service, and how to allocate resources, and

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