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Judging a Book by its Cover: The Secret to Signaling Quality

Today in class we discussed the idea of signaling quality of used cars in some fashion to raise the interest of buyers and compete against sellers with good cars. The goal of advertising agencies is just that: manipulating people’s opinions by changing their perceived valuation for an object. The decision process for buyers as discussed in class reveals the secret to a successful product. It brings a new dimension to the phrase: “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Indeed, books, video games, movies, and album covers are only a few examples where marketing has completely revamped a product to change its perception and thus its valuation for the target audience. Book and album covers cannot actually convey the quality of a book or a particular album. However, we subconsciously create an association between them because of the way advertising is executed. In this sense, the quality of a cover is tacked onto that of the actual product, effectively inflating the product’s valuation in the eyes of the population. This then raises interest in the product and allows the owner to sell at a higher price. Next time you want to buy an album or a book, ask yourself “Am I judging this product by its cover?” because you might not like the product as much as the cover.

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