Sunk costs are all those costs which have been incurred by the company in the past time with no chance of its recovery in the future and the example of which includes research and development expenses incurred by the company before starting of the project, expenses on survey conducted for evaluating any proposal etc.
Sunk Cost Examples
In this article, we will go through some of the main examples of Sunk Cost to understand it properly. There are several examples of Sunk costs in any kind of business whether manufacturing or service industry, any cost which is incurred but cannot be recovered, is sunk cost. It is not possible to explain each and every type of sunk cost of the business as the list is too long to explain each, so we will go through some of the main and important examples of sunk cost which almost all industries will be having in their businesses.
Top 4 Examples of Sunk Cost
Below are the several examples of Sunk Cost.
Example #1 – Research and Development
This is one of the best examples of sunk cost. Almost all industries will be having Research and development expenses in their books and companies will be spending huge money for research and development purpose for their product.
A drug manufacturing company A invests $ 2,50,000/- for many years for the R&D on a new drug for hair growth. When the company launched this product in the market, due to some side effects faced by many patients, doctors stopped recommended that pill to their patients, this forced the company to stop the production of that pill. In this case, the $ 2,50,000/- has become a sunk cost, so it should not be considered in any decision for this product in the future.
Example #2 – Marketing Expenses
Sunk Cost is also known as unrecoverable cost as the amount is not able to be recovered which has already been spent on some business activities. Marketing expenses also one of the best examples of Sunk Cost. Almost all businesses spend on marketing and advertisement to promote their products and services. The amount which has already been spent on marketing and advertisement, cannot be recoverable. So, advertisement and marketing expenses should not be considered in the future decision-making process.
Let’s consider the example of Company A, which is into two-wheeler manufacturing and have a huge product line in their portfolio. Recently, Company has launched one new two-wheeler model and the board has decided to spend $5,00,000 on marketing and advertisement to promote its new product. Although, they have not succeeded in this marketing campaign as the product efficiency was not up to the mark.
The company has already spent $5,00,000 on this failed marketing campaign but they should not consider this expense in any future decision making for the same product or any other product of the company. This will be considered as a Sunk cost.
Example #3 – Equipment Expenses
Cost for equipment’s whether small or big production machinery, tend to become sunk cost over time. Most of the manufacturing companies would have a huge product line in their portfolio, and most of them are not similar. Companies have to invest in different kind of machinery for different products. Not a single machine can produce all kind of products. Sometimes, most of the machinery which are old or the products which they manufacture are not at all in fashion at the present time, companies have to replace that machinery with new upgraded machinery.
In this case, companies can resell the machinery, but in no case, they can recover the whole amount which was spent initially. So, the amount which is not recoverable would be considered as Sunk Cost. We can understand this kind of Sunk Cost by below example,
A Company XYZ, which is into the manufacturing of kid toys. They manufacture different kinds of small or big size toys, soft toys, and automatic toys. They spent initially $ 1,00,000 for purchasing of equipment and machinery for their manufacturing plant. Over time, due to the change in the toy industry, the company needed advance kind of machinery, and the board has decided to replace old machinery with a new one. The company have sold old machinery at $ 20,000 as scrap and remaining $80,000 became sunk cost in the case. They should not consider that amount which was spent on old machinery, for any kind of future decisions,
Example #4 – Payroll Expenses
Whether, it’s a small firm or big firm, manufacturing industry or service industry, all have payroll expenses in the books. Payroll Expenses includes salaries, employees’ benefits, expenses on employee training, which would become sunk cost always once the amount paid in payroll head.
The amount which has already spent on employees, whether directly or indirectly, cannot be recoverable in any case, it does not affect by the performance of the employee performance or behavior in the organization.
For example, A company spent $ 10,000 to train its staff for the using of its newly introduced ERP system. Initially, it was working as per the plan but after few months due to changes in office culture, the ERP system was found unreliable and unproductive, due to that the company wanted to replace the ERP system and had to train its employees again for the using of new ERP system. In the first case, the training expenses $10,000 would be considered as sunk cost as it was the expense which would not be recovered in future and not at all useful in any kind of future business activities.
A sunk cost is also called a Past Cost which has no effect on the present business situation. Any money spent on any project should be considered as an individual project cost. We can conclude the above decision in the following points,
- A sunk cost is a cost which has already been spent but not recoverable in any case and future business decisions should not be affected by past spent.
- Spending on researching, equipment or machinery buying, rent, payroll, marketing or advertising expenses is the main examples of sunk cost. Equipment or machinery which only produces only specific products or spending of processes for customized products for specific customers are examples of sunk cost.
- Some industries such as drug manufacturing, research companies, heavy machinery manufacturing would have more sunk costs, so it would have a major barrier of entry for new entrants in these industries.
- Sunk cost should not be taken into account when making any future decision for the same or different product or service.
This has been a guide to Sunk Cost Examples. Here we discuss the top 4 practical examples of sunk cost along with a detailed explanation. You can learn more about budgeting from the following articles –