What is an Incremental Cost?

Definition: An incremental cost or differential cost is a business planning analysis that looks at the additional cost to the company if a particular action is taken. In other words, if a company decides to take action on a new project, what extra expenses will the new project create?

What Does Incremental Costs Mean?

Manufactures look at incremental costs when deciding to produce another product. Often times new products can use the same assembly lines and raw materials as currently produced products. Unfortunately, most of the time when manufacturers take on new product lines there are additional costs to manufacture these products. Management must look at these incremental costs and compare them to the additional revenue before it decides to start producing the new product.


Incremental costs are also evaluated in overall business strategies. For instance, a company merger might reduce overall costs of because only one group of management is required to run the company. The other management can be laid off. Producing the products, however, might bring incremental costs because of the downsizing. The management must look at the additional cost of producing the products under one roof. This could mean more deliveries from vendors or even more training costs for employees.

Incremental costs are also used in the management decision to make or buy a product. Some custom products might not be readily available for the business to buy, so the business has to go through the process of custom ordering it or making it. The incremental costs of making the product might not be worth it. The company could be better off custom ordering it.