Markup vs Margin - What's the Difference?

By Thomas Bennett Financial expert at Priceva
Published on June 17, 2024
Understanding the difference between markup and margin is crucial for anyone involved in sales or running a business. While both terms are essential in setting prices and determining profitability, they are not interchangeable. This article will dissect these concepts to highlight their differences and demonstrate how each impacts the financial health of a business. By mastering these terms, businesses can better strategize their pricing and ensure their operations remain profitable. Let us look through markup vs margin.

Defining Margin vs Markup

In the intricate dance of business finance, "margin" and "markup" are two crucial partners whose performance directly influences a company's profitability narrative. Margin, derived from subtracting the cost of goods sold (COGS) from the selling price, represents the percentage of the selling price that is pure profit. It is an indicator of how much of the sales revenue is retained by the company after covering the costs associated with the product. Margin is often expressed as a percentage, showcasing the efficiency with which a company converts sales into profits.

Markup, on the other hand, tells a different story. It measures how much a company adds to the costs of its goods to determine the selling price. Calculated by taking the difference between the selling price and the cost, and then dividing by the cost, markup is also expressed as a percentage. This figure illuminates how much more a company is charging over its costs, providing insight into the pricing strategies employed and their alignment with market expectations and consumer willingness to pay.

What is Margin?

The margin, or gross profit margin, represents the portion of each dollar of revenue that exceeds the cost of goods sold. It is a critical measure of the profitability of a product and is calculated using the margin formula: (Revenue - COGS) / Revenue. This calculation provides businesses with the percentage of sales that has turned into profit, after accounting for the cost of goods sold.

Margin Calculation Example

For instance, if a company sells a product for $100 and the cost of goods sold is $60, the gross profit is $40. To find the margin percentage, you divide the gross profit by the revenue. So, $40 (gross profit) / $100 (revenue) = 0.40 or 40%. This means 40% of each dollar earned is profit.

What is Markup?

Markup is used to determine how much more a company sells its products for over the cost. The markup formula:

(Selling Price - Cost) / Cost

This markup formula shows how much of the cost the profit represents, giving businesses an understanding of how their pricing strategy compares to the actual product cost.

Markup Calculation Example

Using the same figures from the margin example, the markup calculation would be $40 (gross profit) / $60 (COGS) = 0.6667 or 66.67%. This tells us that the selling price is approximately 67% higher than the cost price.

Comparing Margin and Markup

business profitability and pricing strategy. A common misunderstanding is equating a specific markup with the same percentage of margin, which can lead to pricing errors and misjudged profitability. Understanding the conversion between the two is vital for setting prices that both cover costs and achieve desired profit levels.

Margin to Markup Conversion

To convert margin to markup, the formula used is (Margin / (1 - Margin)). For example, if a product has a 40% margin, the markup percentage would be calculated as follows: 0.40 / (1 - 0.40) = 0.6667 or 66.67%.

Markup to Margin Conversion

Conversely, to convert from markup to margin, you would use the formula (Markup / (1 + Markup)). Using the markup of 66.67% from our previous example, the margin would be 0.6667 / (1 + 0.6667) = 0.40 or 40%.

Importance of Margins and Markups

Margins and markups are more than just figures on a balance sheet; they are vital indicators that can guide strategic decisions about pricing, product development, and market positioning. They affect everything from the calculation of sales discounts to profitability projections. Mastery of these concepts ensures that businesses can set prices that not only attract consumers but also maintain healthy profit margins, essential for long-term sustainability and growth.


In the complex landscape of business operations, understanding the distinction between markup vs margin is essential for effective financial planning and price setting. While both metrics are vital in assessing the profitability and pricing strategies of a company, they serve different purposes and provide unique insights. Margin, calculated as a percentage of total sales, represents the profit made after covering the cost of goods sold. It essentially shows what proportion of sales revenue is actual profit. Markup, on the other hand, reflects how much a company charges over the cost to achieve these sales. It indicates the additional percentage added to the cost to determine the selling price.

This understanding is crucial because it affects how businesses strategize their pricing to meet various financial goals. Knowing when to focus on markup versus margin can influence business decisions about product pricing, discounts, and overall sales strategies. By mastering these concepts, companies can ensure their pricing strategies are not only competitive but also profitable, maintaining a healthy balance between attracting customers and achieving desirable profit margins.


Is 100% markup the same as 50% margin?

Definitely not. A 100% markup occurs when the selling price is double the cost price, which mathematically results in a 50% margin. This is because the markup is calculated based on the cost, whereas the margin is calculated based on the selling price.

What margin is 25% markup?

A 25% markup correlates to a 20% margin. This relationship is derived from the formula: Margin = Markup / (1 + Markup), which translates here as 0.25 / 1.25 = 0.20 or 20%. Understanding these calculations helps businesses set accurate and profitable pricing strategies.

When should I use margin vs markup?

Margin should be used when assessing the profitability of a product or service, providing a clear picture of the percentage of sales that translate into profit. Markup is most useful for determining how much to charge over the cost to cover expenses and achieve desired profit levels, making it essential for price-setting activities.

How do you calculate a 30% margin?

To calculate a 30% margin, you must price your product such that the profit is 30% of the selling price. This can be achieved by marking up the cost of goods sold (COGS) accordingly. Using the margin formula: Price = COGS / (1 - Margin), with a 30% margin, you divide the COGS by 0.70.

Why do businesses use margin instead of markup?

Businesses often prefer using margin over markup because it directly measures profitability as a percentage of sales, offering a clearer and more direct reflection of financial health. Margin calculations provide insights into the effectiveness of pricing strategies and cost control measures within a company.

What is the difference between 30% margin and 30% markup?

The difference lies in the calculation basis and the resulting impact on pricing. A 30% margin means that 30% of the selling price is profit, suggesting a higher selling price relative to the cost. In contrast, a 30% markup means the selling price is only 30% above the cost, which generally results in a lower profit percentage when calculated as a margin. Understanding these nuances is pivotal for setting prices that align with strategic business goals.

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