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Economic value often represents the amount of something given up in return for a good or service. For example, consumers purchase products with currency. High-priced products, many times, are less valuable as the economic value received is less than a cheaper product. The economic utility theory of value, however, states that higher prices associated with higher product quality can increase economic value. This is the result from the product offering more value than others currently on the market.
While price is typically the biggest factor in economic transactions, it does not always represent the true economic value of a good. Luxury goods have high prices but are usually less valuable to middle- or lower-class consumers. These individuals simply do not see the value in luxury goods, and so the value is low for these classes of citizens. The utility theory of value states that consumers often pay any price for goods that have high value, such as food, housing, and clothes.
On the business side of economic value, this economic theory represents all monies received over the production cost of goods and services. For example, a widget costs $5.00 US Dollars (USD) to produce. The company can sell widgets at a market price of $5.50 USD. The market price represents the most commonly paid price between the business and consumers in economic transactions. If the company can sell widgets for $6.00 USD to consumers, the surplus, i.e. value, over the standard market price is $.50 USD.
Companies often need to give up more resources in order to earn a surplus on their goods. This trade-off can lead to more economic value between consumers and businesses. A company earns more value in received profits. Consumers receive more value when products have more features or last longer due to higher-quality materials. When extensive competition exists in a market, companies often attempt to separate their products through quality or value offered to consumers.
Economic value is subject to external factors that can reduce economic value. Substitute goods are a common factor that reduces the value a company receives. A substitute good is one that consumers see as valuable in place of the original good they prefer. For example, a smartphone can have several useful features, such as e-mail, texting, and Internet connectivity. When smartphone prices increase too much, consumers may purchase a standard cell phone, the substitute good that allows them to at least make phone calls.