Cash Cow: Definition, Examples & Strategies


For example, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has found for itself a centre spot in the cereal industry, making it the market leader of a mature market. The money generated from this division is high enough to support other innovations by the company. These markets have a sustainable demand but do not see significant growth or innovation any longer. A dependable source of profit, as in The small-appliance division is this company’s cash cow. Although this precise term dates only from about 1970, milch cow was used in exactly the same way from 1601. When a product reaches the end of its business cycle, marketing executives adopt a harvest strategy.

  • A cash cow differs from other business ventures because it is a reliable and lucrative source of income.
  • The term “cash cow” is often used to describe a business, product, or investment that generates a consistent and substantial flow of cash or profits over an extended period of time.
  • Cash cows can provide opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling.

Cross-selling or bundling products/services can help utilize the cash cow’s customer base. A cash cow is often a profitable product or service that dominates a market and generates far more cash than is needed to maintain its market position. Companies may use the money from the cash cow to develop new products or to acquire other businesses. A cash cow is one of the four categories (quadrants) in the growth-share, BCG matrix that represents a product, product line, or company with a large market share within a mature industry.

What does the term ‘cash cow’ mean?

These companies are mature and do not need as much capital to grow. Cash cows can also be slow-growth companies or business units with well-established brands in the industry. Relying too heavily on cash cows can be risky for a company, as it may make them vulnerable to changes in the market or competitive landscape.

  • Today, Windows accounts for only a small part of Microsoft’s business, while it generates a steady revenue for the company.
  • It is a metaphorical representation of a cow that produces a steady stream of cash, similar to how a dairy cow produces milk.
  • By expanding into new geographical regions and targeting new customer segments, the company can increase a product’s usage among customers.

One of these idioms is “cash cow”, which is of great importance in financial discussions and analysis. In this article, we will look at what the idiom “cash cow” means, its origins, and its implications in the world of finance. A dominant player in the printer market is HP or the Hewlett-Packard company.

By generating steady streams of income, cash cows help fund the overall growth of a company, their positive effects spilling over to other business units. Furthermore, companies can use them as leverage for future expansions, as lenders are more willing to lend money knowing that the debt will be serviced. Examples of cash cows in different industries include Coca-Cola in the beverage industry, Microsoft Office in the software industry, and Gillette in the personal care industry. These are all products or business units that have a high market share in mature markets with low growth potential, and generate significant cash flows for their respective companies. In the realm of economics, the term “cash cows” refers to products, services, or business units that have a large share in mature markets.

Can you provide an example of a cash cow?

A cash cow refers to a business or product that generates substantial and consistent cash flow over an extended period. Cash cows are known to be a company’s most valuable and competitive product or business divisions as they contribute to a significant chunk of a firm’s operating profits. These profits are a result of low investment and high revenue gains from such products. A cash cow is a business division or product with a significant market share in a mature market that guarantees substantially high returns on investment.

What is a cash cow?

They can sell that milk with little labor and maintenance for a steady income. We spend a lot of time researching and writing our articles and strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content. However, our research is meant to aid your own, and we are not acting as licensed professionals. We recommend that you use your own judgement and consult with your own consultant, lawyer, accountant, or other licensed professional for relevant business decisions. HP’s printing division has dominated the market for about 20 years.

The phrase originated in the dairy industry, where cows that produce milk are highly valued and provide a steady stream of income for farmers. Cash cows are products or services that have achieved market leader status, provide positive cash flows and a return on assets (ROA) that exceeds the market growth rate. The idea is that such products produce profits long after the initial investment has been recouped.

What Is a Cash Cow?

Currently working as a consultant within the financial services sector, Paul is the CEO and chief editor of BoyceWire. He has written publications for FEE, the Mises Institute, and many others. If a female cow has given birth at least once, farmers can continue to milk that cow.

This may involve investing in marketing and advertising, improving product quality, or reducing production costs. It is also important to monitor the market and competitive landscape and adapt to changes as necessary. Companies can also consider diversifying their product portfolio to reduce their reliance on a single cash cow. The idiom “cash cow” refers to a product, business, or investment that consistently generates a significant amount of money or profit.

Dilemma of Continued Investment

They also provide stability and reduce the risk of the portfolio as a whole, since they are less vulnerable to market fluctuations or changes in the competitive landscape. In the context of finance, a cash cow represents a business or investment that generates significant profits and cash flow that exceed the expenses required to maintain and operate it. These cash free retainer invoice template cows often have established market dominance, strong brand recognition, and a loyal customer base. Since cash cows exist in mature markets, they are often at or near the point of saturation, offering little room for substantial growth. A plateau in sales growth might occur, and competition may increase as rivals seek to gain a share of the stable cash flows.

Google’s Search Advertising Business

These companies’ strong market share bring in strong revenues every year. Small investors love cash cow companies because they can finance their own growth and value. Coke is the perfect example of a cash cow because it generates abnormal profit in a mature market. The cash cow generates more money than the amount needed to maintain the business. Today, Windows accounts for only a small part of Microsoft’s business, while it generates a steady revenue for the company.