What is Unprofitable Products Analysis?

Unprofitable Products Analysis

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Unprofitable Products Analysis

Unprofitable products analysis is a financial assessment that focuses on identifying products within a business’s portfolio that are not generating profits. These products can eat into the resources and profits generated by more successful products, essentially acting as a drag on the company’s overall profitability. By identifying unprofitable products, a business can make more informed decisions about product discontinuation, redesign, or repricing, thereby optimizing its product mix and improving profitability.

Key Aspects of Unprofitable Products Analysis:

  • Cost Allocation: Understanding the total cost of producing each product, including direct costs like materials and labor, as well as allocated overhead costs.
  • Revenue Assessment: Evaluating the revenue generated by each product, taking into account factors like sales volume and pricing.
  • Profit Margin Calculation: Determining the profit margin for each product by comparing its total cost to its revenue. A negative profit margin indicates an unprofitable product.
  • Market Factors: Considering external factors such as market demand, competition, and economic conditions that could be influencing the product’s profitability.
  • Strategic Importance: Assessing whether the product serves a strategic role, such as attracting customers to other, more profitable products, even if it isn’t profitable on its own.
  • Life Cycle Stage: Evaluating the stage of the product in its life cycle (introduction, growth, maturity, or decline) can also be important. Some products may be unprofitable initially but could become profitable later.

Actions Post-Analysis:

  • Discontinue: If a product is found to be consistently unprofitable and offers no strategic advantages, it may be best to discontinue it.
  • Reprice: For products that are almost profitable, a slight price increase might make them profitable without significantly affecting demand.
  • Cost Reduction: Investigating ways to reduce production costs can also turn an unprofitable product into a profitable one.
  • Reposition or Rebrand: Sometimes, changing how the product is marketed can increase its profitability.
  • Bundle: Unprofitable products can sometimes be bundled with profitable ones to move inventory.

Unprofitable products analysis is an ongoing process that businesses should carry out periodically to ensure they are maximizing profitability.

Example of Unprofitable Products Analysis

Let’s delve into a detailed example of unprofitable products analysis for a fictional electronics store called “Tech Haven.”


Tech Haven sells a variety of electronics, including smartphones, laptops, and accessories like headphones and chargers. After reviewing their quarterly financial statements, the management team notices that while revenue has been growing, profitability has not seen the same uptick.

To investigate this, they decide to conduct an unprofitable products analysis.

Data Gathering:

After pulling sales and cost data, they categorize the products into three main groups:

  • Smartphones: Profit Margin – 20%
  • Laptops: Profit Margin – 18%
  • Accessories: Profit Margin – Variable (ranges from 5% to 50%)


They find that while smartphones and laptops have healthy profit margins, the profit margin for accessories varies widely. Specifically, they identify that USB chargers have a negative profit margin of -10%. Here’s how they break it down:

  • Revenue from USB Chargers: $5,000
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) for USB Chargers: $5,500
  • Profit Margin: ($5,000 – $5,500) / $5,000 = -10%

Further Investigation:

Upon further investigation, they find:

  • High Competition: There are many similar products available at a lower price.
  • High Inventory Costs: Due to slow sales, the USB chargers often stay in inventory, adding storage costs.
  • No Strategic Benefit: These chargers are not drawing customers to buy other, more profitable items.

Actions Taken:

Given this analysis, Tech Haven considers the following options:

  • Discontinue: Since the product has no strategic benefits and is costing the company money, discontinuing it is a viable option.
  • Cost Reduction: They consider negotiating with suppliers or altering the product specifications to reduce costs.
  • Repricing: Increasing the price could make the product profitable, but given the high competition, this seems risky.

After weighing these options, they decide to discontinue the USB chargers and focus on promoting other accessories with higher profit margins.


By discontinuing the unprofitable USB chargers, Tech Haven is able to improve its overall profit margin and focus its resources on more profitable ventures, such as marketing their high-margin products or developing new, potentially profitable items.


This example illustrates how unprofitable products analysis can provide valuable insights into a business’s operations, helping it to focus on profitable activities and make informed decisions. By regularly performing this kind of analysis, a company can more effectively manage its product portfolio and improve its bottom line.

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