In business strategy, cost leadership is establishing a competitive advantage by having the lowest cost of operation in the industry. Cost leadership is often driven by company efficiency, size, scale, scope and cumulative experience (learning curve). A cost leadership strategy aims to exploit scale of production, well-defined scope and other economies (e.g., a good purchasing approach), producing highly standardized products, using advanced technology. In recent years, more and more companies have chosen a strategic mix to achieve market leadership. These patterns consist of simultaneous cost leadership, superior customer service and product leadership.
Cost leadership is different from price leadership. A company could be the lowest cost producer yet not offer the lowest-priced products or services. If so, that company would have a higher than average profitability. However, cost leader companies do compete on price and are very effective at such a form of competition, having a low cost structure and management.
The concept of cost leadership was developed by Michael Porter.
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