GMAT Essay Topic 517 - The following appeared in a memorandum written by the assistant manager of a store that sells gourmet food items from various countries. "A local wine store made an interesting discovery last month: it sold more French than Italian wine on days when it played recordings of French accordion music, but it sold more Italian than French wine on days when Italian songs were played. Therefore, I recommend that we put food specialties from one particular country on sale for a week at a time and play only music from that country while the sale is going on. By this means we will increase our profits in the same way that the wine store did, and we will be able to predict more precisely what items we should stock at any given time." Discuss how well reasoned . . . Etc.
The argument made by the assistant manager of the gourmet food store, while encouraging at first glance, is not sufficient to base profitablility predictions upon. I maintain that the argument is faulty primarily because of the assistant manager`s flawed assumption that music has a direct causal...
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The assistant manager contends that the store should sell food specialties on sale from a particular country each week and play music from that country while the sale is going on. He believes that the store will increase its profits and managers can predict more precisely what items they should stock at any given time by this strategy. The assistant manager cites the following as evidence: this strategy which was implemented by a local wine store seemed to be successful as in days when French music was played more French wines were sold while when Italian music was played more Italian wines were sold. The reasoning of the argument is totally flawed as it is based upon unsubstantiated assumptions.
First, the assistant manager readily assumes that there is an analogy between the wine store and the store that sells gourmet foods. In particular, he states that because the wine store sold more French wines when they played French music or more Italian wines when they played Italian music this will happen to the gourmet store as well. But how the assistant manager knows for sure that this will happen? It is likely that customers of the gourmet food store are different from the customers of the wine store and their decisions on what they will buy are not affected by other factors other than their preference. The argument would have been more convincing if the arguer mentioned that customers of the wine store are identical to the customers of the gourmet food store.
Second, the author makes another questionable assumption that the only factor that affects the preferences of the customers of the local wine store is the music. However, what if other factors affected their decisions on what wine they will buy? For instance, it is possible that they buy French wines because in those days these wines are in discount or they buy Italian wines because in these days the store sold two Italian wines in the price of one. If this happened then how can the author knows that the music played the most important role in affecting the decisions of the customers? Furthermore, it is likely that the sample of customers is not representative. As the wine store is local the number of customers is limited while the customers of the gourmet food store are more. Without convincing answers to these questions one is left with the impression that the claim is more of a wishful thinking rather than substantive evidence.
The argument is weak since neither is the conclusion sound nor is the suggestion legitimate. Had there been substantial evidence, perhaps the argument would have sounded more credible but in its absence it sounds indefensible.