ARG-129

The following appeared in a memo from the marketing director of Top Dog Pet Stores.

"Five years ago Fish Emporium started advertising in the magazine Exotic Pets Monthly. Their stores saw sales increase by 15 percent after their ads began appearing in the magazine. The three Fish Emporium stores in Gulf City saw an even greater increase than that. Because Top Dog Pet Stores is based in Gulf City, it seems clear that we should start placing our own ads in Exotic Pets Monthly. If we do so, we will be sure to reverse the recent trend of declining sales and start making a profit again."


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.


According to the memo, Fish Emporium started advertising in the magazine Exotic Pets Monthly and lead to an increase of more than 15 percent. As a result, the author claims that by starting advertising in Exotic Pets Monthly, Top Dog Pet Stores would reverse the trend of declining sales and start making profit again. Although the author’s lines of reasoning look appealing, there are some unsubstantiated assumptions that underlie his argument and could be wrong. When new information is provided and those assumptions turn out to be incorrect, the author’s argument would be weakened.

To start with, in concluding that the sales for Fish Emporium stores in Gulf City increased, the author assumes that such increase of sales is triggered by the advertisement on Exotic Pets Monthly. However, two events occurring in sequence cannot fully establish a causal relationship. In addition to advertising through the magazine, Fish Emporium might have other strategies implemented, thereby increase the sale in Gulf City. For example, it is possible that Fish Emporium started a sales promotion that attracted costumers to buy pets from their stores. In this case, the great increase of sales might not be caused by advertisement. Such scenario would disprove the author’s assumption and rendering his subsequent conclusion shaky.

Additionally, granted that the increase of sales for Fish Emporium is caused by the advertisement, the author assumes that starting advertisements on Exotic Pets will have the same beneficial effect for Top Dog Pet Stores. Nevertheless, there might be differences between these two companies, which would lead to different result when implementing the same strategy. For instance, Fish Emporium might have chosen to start advertising in Exotic Pets Monthly probably because their prospective customers are the magazine readers. Top Dog Pet Stores, on the other hand, might have a customer base that does not read Exotic Pets Monthly at all and those readers have little interest in the service the Top Dog provides. In this case, the readers of Exotic Pets will less likely be attracted by the advertisement and the beneficial effect by advertisements would also be weakened.

Lastly, the author claims that starting advertising in Exotic Pets will reverse the recent trend of declining sales and start making a profit again, which is built on the assumption that the cost associated with advertising will be exceeded by the boosted revenue. Even if we acknowledge that such advertisement would benefit Top Dog Pet Stores, the aforementioned assumption is still questionable because no quantitative evaluation is available. To illustrate, it is possible that it is very expensive to put advertisements on Exotic Pets Monthly. In this case, even though the advertisement attracts some new customers, such improvement might not be great enough to compensate the increased cost. In this scenario, the author’s assumption is disproved, thereby weakening the conclusion as a result.

To sum up, while it may be logical to follow the same strategy of Fish Emporium to start advertising to increase sales, the author does not convincingly present evidence to support his conclusion. There are several uncorroborated assumptions in the line of reasoning and when they prove unwarranted, the final conclusion will be weakened.


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