Gendernomics: On Value Part 2

This essay is part 2 of a 5 part series. You can find part 1 here

Contextual Value

In various forms of business, one will often experience conflicting valuations in some form or another. In finance, it’s quite clear from the outline in an upcoming section of this post that there can be many different valuations for a company. Likewise, within marketing one can have differing valuations for a new product or a market depending on the underlying premises one utilizes when conducting an analysis. A fairly common method to establish the potential market size for a brick-and-mortar business is to determine how many people live in the area where the business will operate, then how many of those are potential customers and how frequently they will need the services offered by the company. In this simple mathematical problem, the definitions of “operating area”, “potential customers” and “frequency of service”, will greatly affect the valuation of the project.

The idea of  contextual value is that things outside of an item influence the value placed upon that item by rational actors. The most simple example is how an item for which there is high demand tends to be viewed as more valuable than an item for which there is little if any demand. Some prefer to look at demand as an indicator of value, meaning that high value products will also have a correspondingly high demand, however this is a conflation of a products’ capability for satisfying a need, with the product’s popularity. While one can easily argue that there are correlations between product quality and product popularity, the correlation between the variables are varied.

It is entirely possible to have a low quality product, for which there is high demand, or a high quality product for which there is low demand. Within the dating sphere this often takes the form of “social proof”, which as a variable influences the value of the product either up or down. However, social proof is transitory, as it is composed of variables that communicate and signal high value within a social group. Thus, many of the factors that lead to high social proof, are in and of themselves a part of the product, they are in fact the joint subjective perceptions of the product communicated externally. Continue reading