Target Costing

Target Costing



Target Costing

Chapter 3 Target Costing

1.      Objectives

1.1       Explain the concept of target costing.
1.2       Describe the steps in implementation of target costing process.
1.3       Explain how to derive the target cost and cost gap.
1.4       Describe the methods of how to close the cost gap.
1.5       Describe the benefits of target costing.

2.      Implementing Target Costing

2.1       Target costing originated in Japan in the 1970s. It began with recognition that customers were demanding more diversity in products that they bought, and the life cycles of products were getting shorter. This meant that new products had to be designed more frequently to meet customer demands.


Target Costing


Target costing involves setting a target cost by subtracting a desired profit margin from a competitive market price.

2.3       Target costing is used mainly for new product development. This is because whenever a new product is designed and developed for a competitive market, a company needs to know what the maximum cost of the new product must be so that it will sell at a profit.


Implementing Target Costing


Steps in the implementation of the target costing process.
Step 1:     Determine a product specification of which an adequate sales volume is estimated.
Step 2:     Set a selling price at which the organization will be able to achieve a desired market share.
Step 3:     Estimate the required profit based on return on sales or return on investment.
Step 4:     Calculate the target cost = target selling price – target profit
Step 5:     Compile an estimated cost for the product based on the anticipated design specification and current cost levels.
Step 6:     Calculate target cost gap = estimated cost – target cost.
Step 7:     Make efforts to close the gap. This is more likely to be successful if efforts are made to design out costs prior to production, rather than to control out costs during the production phase.
Step 8:     Negotiate with the customer before making the decision about whether to go ahead with the project.





Swedish retailer Ikea continues to dominate the home furniture market with more than 300 stores across 35 countries at the end of 2009. The "Ikea concept" as defined on the company website www.ikea.com is "based on offering a wide range of well designed functional home furnishing products at prices so low as many people as possible will be able to afford them."

Ikea is widely known for pricing products at 30-50% below the price charged by competitors. Extracts from the website outline how the company has successfully employed a strategy of target pricing:

"While most retailers use design to justify a higher price, IKEA designers work in exactly the opposite way. Instead they use design to secure the lowest possible price. IKEA designers design every IKEA product starting with a functional need and a price. Then they use their vast knowledge of innovative, low-cost manufacturing processes to create functional products, often coordinated in style. Then large volumes are purchased to push prices down even further.

Most IKEA products are also designed to be transported in flat packs and assembled at the customer's home. This lowers the price by minimising transportation and storage costs. In this way, the IKEA Concept uses design to ensure that IKEA products can be purchased and enjoyed by as many people as possible."

3.      Deriving a Target Cost and Closing the Target Cost Gap

3.1       Deriving a target cost


Example 1


A company has designed a new product. NP8. It currently estimates that in the current market, the product could be sold for $70 per unit. A gross profit margin of at least 30% on the selling price would be required, to cover administration and marketing overheads and to make an acceptable level of profit.

A cost estimation study has produced the following estimate of production cost for NP8.


Cost item


Direct material M1

$9 per unit

Direct material M2

Each unit of product NP8 will require three metres of material M2, but there will be loss in production of 10% of the material used. Material M2 costs $1.80 per metre.

Direct labour

Each unit of product NP8 will require 0.50 hours of direct labour time. However it is expected that there will be unavoidable idle time equal to 5% of the total labour time paid for. Labour is paid $19 per hour.

Production overheads

It is expected that production overheads wil lbe absorbed into product costs at the rate of $60 per direct labour hour, for each active hour worked. (Overheads are not absorbed into the cost of idle time.)


(a)     the expected cost of Product NP8;
(b)    the target cost for NP8;
(c)     the size of the cost gap.


(a) Expected cost per unit



Direct material M1



Direct material M2: 3 metres x 100/90 x $1.8



Direct labour: 0.5 hours x 100/95 x $19



Production overheads: 0.5 hours x $60



Expected full cost per unit



(b) Target cost



Sales price



Minimum gross profit margin (30%)



Target cost



(c) Cost gap



The company needs to identify ways of closing this cost gap.

3.2       Closing the target cost gap

3.2.1    Target costs are rarely achievable immediately and ways must be found to reduce costs and close the cost gap.


Commend methods of closing the target cost gap


(a)       To re-design products to make use of common processes and components that are already used in the manufacture of other products by the company.
(b)       To discuss with key suppliers methods of reducing materials costs. Target costing involves the entire ‘value chain’ from original suppliers of raw materials to the customer for the end-product, and negotiations and collaborations with suppliers might be an appropriate method of finding important reductions in cost.
(c)       To eliminate non value-added activities or non-value added features of the product design. Something is ‘non-value added’ if it fails to add anything of value for the customer. The cost of non-value added product features or activities can therefore be saved without any loss of value for the customer. Value analysis may be used to systematically examine all aspects of a product cost to provide the product at the required quality at the lowest possible cost.
(d)       To train staff in more efficient techniques and working methods. Improvements in efficiency will reduce costs.
(e)       To achieve economies of scale. Producing in larger quantities will reduce unit costs because fixed overhead costs will be spread over a larger quantity of products. However, production in larger quantities is of no benefit unless sales demand can be increased by the same amount.
(f)        To achieve cost reductions as a result of the learning curve or, more likely, the experience curve effect. The learning curve is most likely to exist in a labour intensive environment. It results in cost savings as labour becomes more familiar with performing a new and complex task. The experience curve effect relates to cost savings made in costs other than labour costs as the company becomes more familiar with production of a new product. For example, management of the process and marketing may become more efficient as the company gains experience of making and selling the product.


3.3       Benefits of adopting target costing


Benefits of Target Costing


(a)       The organisation will have an early external focus to its product development. Businesses have to compete with others (competitors) and an early consideration of this will tend to make them more successful. Traditional approaches (by calculating the cost and then adding a margin to get a selling price) are often far too internally driven.
(b)       Only those features that are of value to customers will be included in the product design. Target costing at an early stage considers carefully the product that is intended. Features that are unlikely to be valued by the customer will be excluded. This is often insufficiently considered in cost plus methodologies.
(c)       Cost control will begin much earlier in the process. If it is clear at the design stage that a cost gap exists then more can be done to close it by the design team. Traditionally, cost control takes place at the ‘cost incurring’ stage, which is often far too late to make a significant impact on a product that is too expensive to make.
(d)       Costs per unit are often lower under a target costing environment. This enhances profitability. Target costing has been shown to reduce product cost by between 20% and 40% depending on product and market conditions. In traditional cost plus systems an organisation may not be fully aware of the constraints in the external environment until after the production has started. Cost reduction at this point is much more difficult as many of the costs are ‘designed in’ to the product.
(e)       It is often argued that target costing reduces the time taken to get a product to market. Under traditional methodologies there are often lengthy delays whilst a team goes ‘back to the drawing board’. Target costing, because it has an early external focus, tends to help get things right first time and this reduces the time to market.

Examination Style Questions

Question 1
Edward Co assembles and sells many types of radio. It is considering extending its product range to include digital radios. These radios produce a better sound quality than traditional radios and have a large number of potential additional features not possible with the previous technologies (station scanning, more choice, one touch tuning, station identification text and song identification text etc).

A radio is produced by assembly workers assembling a variety of components. Production overheads are currently absorbed into product costs on an assembly labour hour basis.

Edward Co is considering a target costing approach for its new digital radio product.


(a)     Briefly describe the target costing process that Edward Co should undertake.
(3 marks)
(b)     Explain the benefits to Edward Co of adopting a target costing approach at such an early stage in the product development process.                                                                              (4 marks)
(c)     Assuming a cost gap was identified in the process, outline possible steps Edward Co could take to reduce this gap.                                                                                                                 (5 marks)

A selling price of $44 has been set in order to compete with a similar radio on the market that has comparable features to Edward Co’s intended product. The board have agreed that the acceptable margin (after allowing for all production costs) should be 20%.

Cost information for the new radio is as follows:

Component 1 (Circuit board) – these are bought in and cost $4.10 each. They are bought in batches of 4,000 and additional delivery costs are $2,400 per batch.

Component 2 (Wiring) – in an ideal situation 25 cm of wiring is needed for each completed radio. However, there is some waste involved in the process as wire is occasionally cut to the wrong length or is damaged in the assembly process. Edward Co estimates that 2% of the purchased wire is lost in the assembly process. Wire costs $0.50 per metre to buy.

Other material – other materials cost $8.10 per radio.

Assembly labour – these are skilled people who are difficult to recruit and retain. Edward Co has more staff of this type than needed but is prepared to carry this extra cost in return for the security it gives the business. It takes 30 minutes to assemble a radio and the assembly workers are paid $12.60 per hour. It is estimated that 10% of
hours paid to the assembly workers is for idle time.

Production Overheads – recent historic cost analysis has revealed the following production overhead data:


Total production overhead

Total assembly labour hours




Month 1



Month 2



Fixed production overheads are absorbed on an assembly hour basis based on normal annual activity levels. In a typical year 240,000 assembly hours will be worked by Edward Co.


(d)     Calculate the expected cost per unit for the radio and identify any cost gap that might exist.           (13 marks)
(Total 25 marks)
(ACCA F5 Performance Management December 2007 Q1)



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Target Costing


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Target Costing



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Target Costing