Initial Markup or IMU

The initial markup is a term used to describe the markup percentage you are using when pricing your products.

Initial markup -which is also known as IMU- is a pricing method that is considered one of the cost-plus pricing techniques. When used properly, initial markup makes pricing multiple products easier and more time-efficient.


To calculate the initial markup for a product that you’re pricing, you need to know the cost and the selling price of that product. The difference between these two is the initial markup.

Selling Price - Product Costs = Initial Markup

For example, if you’re selling a product for $100 and it has a total cost of $50, the markup value $50. When expressed as a percentage, the initial markup value for this product is %100.

It’s true that this pricing technique has been around for a long time and is being used by many businesses. However, initial markup has its downsides. If you’re aware of these downsides when using this technique, you’ll be able to make the most out of it.

Important Considerations

Despite being seemingly simple, there are multiple factors that come into play when calculating the IMU. Disregarding some of these points can result in an inaccurate calculation, which can have serious consequences on the bottom line of your business.

The following are the most important considerations to keep in mind when using the initial markup pricing method. Being aware of these factors will help you reap the benefits of IMU while mitigating the downsides.

Markdown Costs

If you’re in retail, you probably already know that markdowns are the biggest cost for retailers. Nobody likes to sell their products at reduced prices, however, this is something that has to be done.

Sales and discounts allow you to get rid of slow-selling products without taking a loss. One common mistake when using the initial markup technique is not factoring the markdown prices into the calculations.

If you do this, you’ll find out that your profit margins have dropped significantly when selling the products at discounted prices. In addition to the lowered profitability, you won’t be able to wow your customers with a big sale.

Having one of these big %50-off sales requires that you price your products with such sales in mind in the first place. If you don’t do this, you’ll find yourself stuck with products that you’re not able to sell. Unless you run a business that’s never on sale, this is something that you should always pay attention to.

Hidden Operating Costs

Miscalculating the actual cost of a product when using IMU is pretty common. This is especially true when using the same initial markup for different products or even for a single product that’s being sold in different stores.

The reason for this miscalculation is simple, which is the hidden operating costs. When you’re manufacturing your product in a single place, the manufacturing cost for the product is the same. What isn’t the same though, is the operational cost of different stores, which add up to the overall cost of a product.

Let’s say that you have a store in Helsinki with a product that costs $5 to make and you’re selling it for $15. The markup here is %200 percent which is $10 per item. When you sell that item in a more expensive city like London -which is %30 more expensive on average, the profit for selling the same product with the same markup will be significantly lower.

When calculating your IMU, make sure to take the different operating conditions of each store into consideration and adjust your prices accordingly.

Initial Markup: Advantages and Disadvantages

Initial markup is a powerful pricing method that has its own pros and cons. Whether it’s right for your business or not is something that only you can decide. The following are the major advantage and disadvantage of using this technique.

Making Sales and Profits Calculations Easier

Simple all pricing-related calculations are a major advantage that’s associated with the initial markup technique. By having an IMU formula, you can price many products and calculate profits with ease. All you have to do is fill in the blanks of your IMU pricing formula and you get the price for any of your products.

Since percentages are used with this method, seeing the big picture becomes easier and requires less work.

Inaccurate Calculations

The major disadvantage of using initial markup when pricing your products is directly related to its advantage, which is having the same formula used for multiple products. When this is the case, some products might end up with a pricing that’s less than the optimal.

Whether this is acceptable for your business or not depends on things like the size of your business as well as the number of products that you’re selling. In some cases, this is a negligible disadvantage while in others it can be a huge deal.

How can Sniffie help?

etting a proper initial markup for the products that you’re pricing can make the whole process much easier. In order for that to happen, you need to know things like the total cost of your products as well as your competitors’ prices.

By knowing these things, you’ll be able to set an initial markup that that strikes the perfect balance between profitability and being competitive. Instead of doing this time-intensive research yourself and risk getting inaccurate results, you can use Sniffie.

Check out Sniffie’s features and our service page to find out how Sniffie can help.

Want to learn more about pricing?

Are you keen to learn more about pricing? Head to our Pricing Academy, from there you can find our latest articles about pricing and other free resources related to pricing, be sure to check them out!

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