What is a Markup?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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A markup is the amount of the unit cost that represents the difference between what the seller charges for a good or service and the costs associated with securing and selling that good or service. There are several different formulas used to determine the markup percentage that will result in the final unit cost. In general, the seller will make sure the ratio still keeps the sale price competitive while allowing the seller to make the highest profit possible from the venture.

In some industries, there are general standards that govern the rate of marking up the final unit price. For example, many retail markup strategies call for the sale price to reflect at least a thirty-three percent increase over the seller’s actual cost. With some retail operations, the profit markup is an across the board percentage of the cost, while others favor a model that provides a higher percentage of profit from more popular items, but a lower margin markup on items that sell with less frequency.


Manufacturers also usually employ some type of formula for determining the average markup of the goods they produce. The formula will usually allow for some amount of discount on unit prices due to volume purchasing by various clients, as well as returns on issued goods and their subsequent resell as seconds or refurbished units. This approach will often consider the rate of production and the incrementally lower production cost per unit when a greater number of units can be produced for a single run.

Determining the right level of markup percentage also involves understanding prevailing market conditions. This allows the seller to have a good idea of what kind of unit price can be commanded without seeing a decline in the number of units sold. As part of the process, the seller will also attempt to accurately project what the movement in the marketplace will be over the next quarter, the next business year, and the next five years. By predicting both the short-term and the long-term demand for the company’s product line, it is often possible to obtain necessary goods for producing the goods and increase the profit margin without changing the retail price at all.

Every business venture requires the use of some sort of markup strategy in order to be successful. Without a structured approach to this important part of the pricing process, it would be virtually impossible to realize a profit that would allow the company to expand its operation, or even maintain the current operation for any length of time. Companies often revisit the formula used for markups on a regular basis, in order to adjust the strategy to allow for new developments, such as enhancements in technology or an increase in the cost of materials needed for the production of finished goods.



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