The following appeared in a memo from the vice president of marketing at Dura-Sock, Inc.

"A recent study of our customers suggests that our company is wasting the money it spends on its patented Endure manufacturing process, which ensures that our socks are strong enough to last for two years. We have always advertised our use of the Endure process, but the new study shows that despite our socks' durability, our average customer actually purchases new Dura-Socks every three months. Furthermore, our customers surveyed in our largest market, northeastern United States cities, say that they most value Dura-Socks' stylish appearance and availability in many colors. These findings suggest that we can increase our profits by discontinuing use of the Endure manufacturing process."

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.

In this memo, the author believes that by discontinuing the Endure production method, the profit of the Dura-Sock company can increase. Although the author cited a recent study and a survey to support his viewpoint, we still need some additional evidence to evaluate whether or not the author's conclusion is feasible.

First, the author, based on recent study, believes that consumers, on average, buy socks every three months, and concluded that the durability brought about by the Endure production method is not important to consumers. However, to accurately get a conclusion, we need evidence to prove that the surveyed customers are indeed representative of all customers. For example, whether the respondents were chosen by random sampling. If not, and the respondents were loyal customers who purchase new products from D-S, they will not be able to represent the majority of consumers. At the same time, the study also needs to ensure that the sample size of subjects is large enough. If the sample size is very small, it is likely that there will be some exceptions in results of this study. However, if the above research satisfies the random sampling requirement and the sample size is large enough, the conclusion of this study can be referenced.

However, even if the above research subjects are representative of the majority, we still need evidence to prove that buying socks once every three months truly indicates that the durability of socks is not important to customers. We also need evidence to see whether or not socks will be worn again after 3 months. For example, although consumers come to buy socks every three months, they are probably buying new socks for a new season, but seasonal socks can be worn for 2 years. In this case, the durability of socks is an important factor for the consumer when choosing a brand. But if there is enough evidence to show that the durability of socks does not matter, the author's argument will be validated.

Meanwhile, the author also cites a survey from a city in the northeast of the United States to further illustrate that durability is not important to consumers. However, like the research we discussed before, we need to know whether or not the subjects of the survey are representative, or if this group is solely compromised of a very small portion of fashionable customers who are particular about changes in style. Even if the surveyed group is representative, we need evidence to show whether cities in the northeast can represent the preferences of consumers from all over the country. Even if the Northeast survey can represent the whole country, we still need evidence that the durability of socks is not important to the consumer. For example, consumers are most concerned about color and style, this does not mean, however, that they don’t take durability into consideration. We need evidence to examine the psychological effect the durability of this brand’s socks has on consumers when they are making their selection. If the evidence shows that the effect durability and style diversity of socks has on consumers is similar, and that both are important characteristics of D-S that consumers pay attention to, then the author's arguments will be weakened. However, if evidence proves that durability really isn’t important, then there would be credibility in the author’s suggestion to discontinue the Endure production method.

Of course, even if consumers do not pay much attention to durability, we still need to study the necessity of discontinuing the Endure method. If this process is a necessary part of sock production—which is to say that if the process is stopped, socks won’t be able to be produced—-then even if durability is not crucial to the customer’s decision, it still cannot be stopped for production reasons. However, if the process is trivial and similar to the process of placing logos on the socks, they can consider abolishing it.

Even if customers do not value the durability of socks, and the Endure production method is not essential to production, we still need evidence to clarify whether or not this discontinuation method can indeed improve profit. For example, stopping advertising for this method does not mean that advertising expenses will be saved, because the company may advertise other characteristics of the socks, which may require a longer period of advertisement. Before a better alternative is found, perhaps the current Endure advertisement scheme is the best solution. Additionally, even if once the use of this method is over, costs brought on by the discontinuation of Endure can still be controlled, is there any evidence to show that sale of socks will not decrease? As soon as there is a decline, profit is still likely to follow suit. However, if there is sufficient evidence to prove that discontinuing the Endure method is really helpful for improving profit, the author's suggestion in the memo would be feasible.

To sum everything up, it is necessary to further demonstrate whether or not the Endure method must be discontinued. We need evidence to ascertain whether or not the research and survey mentioned in the memo are valid, and whether or not it illustrates that durability is pertinent to a consumer’s decision when purchasing socks. We also need to clear up whether Endure technology is essential and if a discontinuation of the Endure method will improve profit. The clarity of the above questions is of great significance to the author's final suggestion.

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