Financial Cat Scans

Cost, Price, and The Space Between

I sing my heart out to the wide open spaces
Pet Townshend

This month, we’ll study the difference between cost and price, why it matters, and how knowing how both behave in tandem is the key to success.

I know from our analytics that most of you are in the business of working out costs and prices. For many, it is hard to separate the two, especially if you work in or with the government. Today’s analysis directs itself to commercial operations. In a future newsletter, we’ll look at how to adapt this framework to the public sector.

All too often in business, someone comes up with a seemingly great idea and gets fellow workers excited about it. It gets pushed into production. Producers then wait to see what the market will bear for it, often falling short of projections.

What if you could change the paradigm?

Suppose you could see market openings and limits and test sample specifications and sales targets before you commit resources to a configuration. That would improve your chances of success.

You’ll have to work to enable this vision, but you will find it worthwhile.

When we at Hypernomics look at a market, we begin with Demand. As shown below as the red plane, that means finding the ordered pairs for Quantity and Price. We create a series of price bins (either equally spaced or binned by geometric or Fibonacci methods) and determine the ordered pairs (as the purple hexagons) representing each bin’s average price and total Quantity. Then we run a regression curve through them, which represents Aggregate Market Demand.

To the left of that curve, we find the Demand Frontier, a regression through the outermost points on the Demand Plane. This curve shows the limit of the products this market can absorb over time. As markets mature, the Aggregate Market Demand and Demand Frontier slopes often approximate one another.

If we examine the points closely, we’ll notice a price gap. Using its midpoint, we would find the 1) Quantity limit the market will support at that price (the vertical red line coming down from the Demand Frontier) and our 2) Target Price (the horizontal red line originating from the Demand Frontier).

To support that price, we’ll need to offer our customers something they like, here as Features A and B, which show up as the green Value Space at left, with the target Price as the horizontal red plane. We’ll need to figure out the Value Surface that the combinations of Features A and B command (the points for which we excluded from this view, for clarity). As seen on the left, there are Cost Surfaces for one or 500 units below the Value Surface. If we further bound our potential offering with Constraints (the vertical orange planes), we now have a region restricted on all sides. Conceptually, this expanse is not different than a like delimited region, such as your head.

Now, if you suspected that you had a deviated septum, your ear, nose, and throat doctor might order a CT scan, in which the doctor would develop section cut views of your head.

We can do the same thing in markets, using Financial CAT scans. Thus, after carefully setting up a 4D arrangement and taking cuts in both the Sections A and B directions, we can predict the 1) maximum Quantity Sold (reducing the 4D problem to one in 3D). Then we selected 2) the Price (dropping the remainder of undetermined dimensions to 2), 3) Feature A (the distance of the black plane from the origin, reducing the problem to 1 dimension), and 4) Feature B (the Vertical Profit Line, the final dimension). The per-unit profit line on the left times the number of units on the Demand Plane gives the projected profit.

In the process, we reduced a 4D problem to a single objective of maximum potential profit.

To complete the analysis, we’d examine all open price points and all viable combinations of the Features considering risk as well, searching for the best potential configuration.

Watch this video to see the analytical steps in action:

Help Your Partner; Help Yourself

Together we stand, divided we fall;
come on now, people, let’s get on the ball and work together.
Canned Heat, Let’s Work Together

Upper Demand Frontiers form in every market outside of commodities. You can prove this by plotting shares for all S&P 500 companies on the horizontal axis against their sales prices on the vertical (best seen in log-log space). For any given day, you’ll find an Upper Demand Frontier takes shape.

Frontiers limit sales. How do you work around them?

Hypernomics enables us to see how interconnected markets work. In (A), the Boeing 787 Business Jet was, for a period, pushed up against its Demand Frontier (the dashed blue line). One of its compatible engines, the GE Genx-1B, found itself in a like condition, hard up against its Demand Frontier (in B, the dashed orange line). What to do?

If GE, whose engines make up about a quarter of the B787 cost, finds their Learning Curve (recurring costs, as the solid orange line) below their price limit, they could drop their prices and make more profits. That would enable Boeing to lower their B787 business jet price and do the same. Knowing your partner’s place in the market is key to making them and you more profits.

#hypernomics #profits #markets #partner

Restaurant Math

“I was at this restaurant. The sign said ‘Breakfast Anytime.’ So I ordered French Toast in the Renaissance.”
Steven Wright

Forget about ordering off the menu; first, you have to get a seat. That’s not a given anymore.

It was never a slam dunk to get into our preferred local eatery. Once COVID-19 forced all patrons outside with social distancing, it was harder still. As we sat waiting for some seats for the third weekend in a row, we began to fidget. What to do? In an era where restrictions abound, sometimes it’s hard to see the options.

Happily, we knew the owner and every boss in the place. I pulled our most-beloved manager aside and asked her if she would be willing to rearrange the furniture and make more money. I explained to her that smaller parties were crowding out larger ones. Why not go from the arrangement you have (which was A) to one with several smaller tables (which became B), I asked? If you track the revenue changes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

As shown below, she did just that. Revenue went up by over 25%. Unlike A, Setup B recognizes they face a Demand Curve, with more parties of one or two people than groups of five or more.

#demand #demandanalysis #restaurant #restaurantmath #profits #revenue

Solve Profit First

Suppliers make products and see what markets will bear for them.  That’s precisely backward.

Instead, we can solve for profit potential first and discover product specifications second.

Suppose a market has products for which there are particular quantities, and prices demanded, as shown by the red dots.  We want to avoid competition, so we choose a Target Price, 1, that exploits a price gap.  Given a Demand Frontier, this sets a quantity limit, 2.

With some work (not shown), we find the market supports Features A & B with a green Value Surface (supportable prices based on those features), and that there’s an area of interest with no competition.  Linked to that region are the costs for 1 and 200 units of our new product.  If we constrain the problem (orange planes), we form an enclosure.

We then run Financial Catscans through this region.  Much like brain scans, they are virtual market section cuts.  At the optimum, we solve for the specs of Features A (3) and B (4), and the per-unit profit (5).  Per unit profit (5) times the demand limit quantity (2) yields max potential profit.

In the process, we’ve solved a 4D problem (Feature A, Feature B, Price, Quantity) from a 1D goal (profit).

#innovation #price #value #markets #profit #sales #manangement

Five-Dimensional Markets

Markets move.

We may show the 2012 car market Value (the upper surface of the red space at left, the points deriving that surface omitted), and the Costs for those cars (an estimate shown by the lower red surface of that space).  The region between those surfaces is the Financial Opportunity Space (FOS), where suppliers make Profits.  That market’s matching Demand Frontier (in red) is at right. Electric car Value comes from Horsepower & Range (Dimensions 1 & 2), which determines Price (Dim 3), which drives Demand (Dim 4).

As this market moved into 2013, more entrants joined.  Existing models sales climbed. Over Time (Dim 5), the 2013 Demand Frontier shifted to the blue line.  Simultaneously, the viable profitability region moved too, from the red 2012 to the blue 2013 FOS.  Values changed (Value Space points left out for clarity), and learning on existing models drove their costs lower (the lower blue space surface).  We know costs fall over time for models due to the learning curves that apply to repetitive activities and producers drop prices at the same time to gain market size – see the post from a month ago on the Model T for a real-world example.

The origin of 5D systems is (0,0,0,0,Tn). Tn is a timestamp.

#markets #prices #profits #profitability