Plotting Pricing Trends from Octopart Data

Before you search for specific MPNs, it’s useful to understand broad trends in electronic component pricing and availability to save time and money. At Octopart, we manage information of more than 40 million electronic parts, so we are uniquely positioned to aggregate the part data information and find interesting pricing trends. Electronic data is complex —every part typically is offered by multiple distributors with different quantities in stock and pricing at different price breaks — but if we aggregate all these sources, we can see that interesting trends appear. Recently, we made a couple of feature updates that now make finding component trends easier, so we can finally dig deeper into big picture questions that can help people make better decisions when it comes to buying parts they need:
Plotting Pricing Trends from Octopart Data
a. Median pricing to compare pricing between parts:
Any part has multiple offers from distributors, each with their own pricing and price break information. Earlier this year, we introduced median pricing in search results for every part at a quantity of 1000 to make it easier to compare pricing between parts with similar attributes or get a big-picture idea of the general pricing in the market.
In order to find the central price point of a part family, we calculated the median price for every part in that family and then chose the middle value among them. Important: The middle value is useful to get a “general” understanding about a part family, and is in no way reflective of the pricing for a single part. It’s important to keep in mind that if parts from a manufacturer are only available from a single inexpensive distributor they will be priced low in median-of-medians, and if we have another manufacturer with similar pricing from that distributor, but another higher-priced distributor, that will drag the medians up.
b. An expanded set of filter values:
While the median price is a good way to get an overall sense of a part’s price point, we also need to be able to see how pricing changes with different filter values in order to understand relationships between them. How does price change with output current for regulators? How does price change with memory for MCUs? We recently launched an expanded set of filter values for every part. The combination of median pricing and our expanded set of filters now allows us to answer these questions and look for overall trends in Octopart data.
Let’s start answering the questions!

1. Which resistor size is generally the cheapest?

To answer this question, we’ll take some popular chip SMD resistor families (chosen from our blog, “How to Select a Resistor”) and see how pricing changes with size. The chart below shows the prices for 1,000 resistors at size 0402, 0603, 0805 and 1206. The three part families are from the Vishay CRCW series, Yageo RC series, and the Panasonic ERJ series. As we can see, different part families follow similar trends in pricing. I expected 1206 to be the most expensive because it is the largest, but 0603 is not the smallest size, yet is the cheapest. This could be a reflection of its popularity.
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