Measuring differences between actual sales and expected sales
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Revenue Variance Analysis is used to measure differences between actual sales and expected sales, based on sales volume metrics, sales mix metrics, and contribution margin calculations.
Information obtained from Revenue Variance Analysis is important to organizations because it enables management to determine actual sales performance in relation to the projected or perceived performance of the company for specific products. It helps businesses identify which products are performing better in the market. Overall, variance analysis helps management make better strategic and business-level decisions to maximize profitability.
These variances are summarized in the following table:
Flexible Budget Variance (FBV)
Sales Mix Variance (SMV)
Sales Quantity Variance (SQV)
Difference between the actual contribution margin and the standard contribution with sales mix and sales volume held constant
Difference between the actual product mix and the standard product mix with sales volume and contribution margin held constant
Difference between the actual volume of sales and the standard (estimated) volume of sales with sales mix and contribution margin held constant
Data from XYZ Company with equal Actual CM and Budgeted CM.
Budgeted tickets sold
Actual seats sold
To determine the relevant variances, we use the column method shown above.
First, organize a table that outlines all relevant information regarding the two products.
Sales Mix (%)
Sales Mix (%)
SVV = 22,000 U + 8,000 F = 14,000 U
SVV = 5,500 F + 3,000 F = 8,500 F
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From the above example, management can draw several conclusions:
For the standard ticket, the actual sales mix is lower than originally budgeted, leading to an unfavorable sales mix variance.
For the standard ticket, the actual sales volume is higher than originally estimated, leading to a favorable sales quantity variance.
The sales volume variance, therefore, is unfavorable overall because the sales mix variance is significant.
For the luxury ticket, the actual sales mix is higher than originally budgeted, leading to a favorable sales mix variance.
For the luxury ticket, the actual sales volume is higher than estimated, leading to a favorable sales quantity variance
The sales volume variance, therefore, is favorable overall and the luxury ticket proves to be performing better in terms of sales even though the contribution margin is lower.
For both tickets, the flexible budget variance is 0 because the actual and budgeted CM are the same.
Market Share and Market Size Variances
Just like the variance analysis shown above, companies can also take their analysis one step further to determine market share and market size variances. Market share variance is the difference between actual market share and the estimated/standard market share at the same volume of sales.
On the other hand, market size variance is the difference between actual industry sales and estimated industry sales at a constant market share percentage. When the market share and market size variances are added together, they will be equal to the total sales quantity variance of all products sold by the company.
Variance analysis, as a whole, is imperative for companies because it gives management information that may not necessarily be obvious. By actually examining all individual costs, sales information, and contribution margin figures, companies can better measure the effectiveness of production methods and the performance of specific products relative to others.
For example, even though a certain product may provide a larger contribution margin, leading to higher profitability, it may actually be performing worse than a lower contribution product. Although in the short run the higher CM product may be more appealing, companies should consider which products to focus their efforts on if they intend to maintain longevity in today’s highly competitive market.
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