ARG-034

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 examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.


In this memo, the author believes that by discontinuing the Endure production method, the profit of the Dura-Sock company can increase. While the conclusion is valid to some extent, the reasoning of this argument is unconvincing due to several unsubstantiated assumptions which, if proven wrong, will seriously challenge the author’s conclusion.


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. Here, the author implicitly assumes that the surveyed customers are indeed representative of all customers, and the respondents were chosen by random sampling. However, this assumption may not hold true because the respondents may be loyal customers who purchase new products from D-S. In this case, they will not be able to represent the majority of consumers. Thus, the author’s conclusion will be challenged.


Even if the above research subjects are representative of the majority, the author;s conclusion could still be unnecessary due to another unsubstantiated assumption that

buying socks once every three months truly indicates that the durability of socks is not important to customers. To be specific, the author assumes that socks will not be worn again after 3 months. However, it is possible that 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. Therefore, the author’s conclusion will be challenged.


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. Here, the author assumes that the psychological effect the durability of this brand’s socks has on consumers can be ignored. However, if it turns out 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.


Of course, even if consumers do not pay much attention to durability, when coming to the conclusion that the Endure method can be abandoned, he/she assumes that the Endure method is not a necessary part of the manufacturing process. However, 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.


Even if customers do not value the durability of socks, and the Endure production method is not essential to production, we still need to examine the author’s another assumption that this discontinuation method can indeed improve profit. However, it is possible that 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. In this case, the conclusion will be challenged.


Consequently, while the author’s conclusion appears appealing, the questionable assumptions discussed above may deprive it of its feasibility.

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