What is the 'Sales Mix Variance'

Sales mix variance is the difference between a company’s budgeted sales mix and the actual sales mix that the firm sells to customers. Sales mix is defined as the proportion of each product a business sells, relative to total sales. Sales mix affects total company profit, because some products generate higher profit margins than others. Sales mix variance includes each product line sold by the firm.

BREAKING DOWN 'Sales Mix Variance'

A variance is the difference between budgeted and actual amounts; companies review variances to make changes in the business. Companies use profit margin to compare the profitability of different products, and profit margin is defined as (net income / sales).

The Differences Between Profit Levels

Assume, for example, that a hardware store sells a $100 trimmer and earns $20 per unit, as well as a $200 lawnmower that earns $30 per unit. The profit margin on the trimmer is ($20 / $100), or 20%, while the lawnmower’s profit margin is ($30 / $200), or 15%. Although the lawnmower has a higher sales price and generates more revenue, the trimmer earns a higher profit per dollar sold. The hardware store budgets for the units sold and the profit generated for each product the business sells.

Examples of Sales Mix Variances

Sales mix variance is based on this formula: (actual units sold * (actual sales mix % - budgeted sales mix %) * budgeted contribution margin per unit). Analyzing the sales mix variance helps a company detect trends in the popularity of its different offerings and consider the impact on company profits.

Assume that a company expected to sell 600 As and 900 Bs. Its expected sales mix would be 40% A (600/1,500) and 60% B (900/1,500). If the company actually sold 1,000 units of product A and 2,000 units of product B, its actual sales mix would have been 33.3% A (1,000/3,000) and 66.6% B (2,000/3,000). The firm can apply the expected sales mix percentages to actual sales, so A would be (3,000 x 0.4) = 1,200 and B would be (3,000 x 0.6) = 1,800. Based on the budgeted sales mix and actual sales, A’s sales are under expectations by 200 units (1,200 budgeted units – 1,000 actually sold). On the other hand, B actually sold 200 fewer units than expected, given B’s budgeted sales mix and actual sales (1,800 budgeted units – 2,000 actually sold).

Assume also that the budgeted contribution margin per unit is $12 per unit for A and $18 for B. The sales mix variance for A is 1,000 actual units sold * (33.3% actual sales mix % - 40% budgeted sales mix %) * ($12 budgeted contribution margin per unit), or an ($804) unfavorable variance. For B, the sales mix variance is 2,000 actual units sold * (66.6% actual sales mix % - 60% budgeted sales mix %) * ($18 budgeted contribution margin per unit), or a $2,376 favorable variance.

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