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The following appeared as part of a promotional
campaign to sell advertising space
in the Daily Gazette to grocery stores in the Marston area.
"Advertising the reduced price of
selected grocery items in the Daily Gazette will help
you increase your sales. Consider the results of a study conducted last month.
Thirty sale items from a store in
downtown Marston were advertised in the Gazette for
four days. Each time one or more of the 30 items was purchased, clerks asked
whether the shopper had read the
ad. Two-thirds of the 200 shoppers asked answered
in the affirmative. Furthermore, more than half the customers who answered
in the affirmative spent over $100 at the store."
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
The conclusion of this argument is that
advertising the reduced price of selected items in the Daily Gazette will result
in increased sales overall. To support it,
the author cites an informal poll conducted by sales clerks when customers
purchased advertised items. Each time one
or more of the advertised items was sold, the clerks asked whether the customer
had read the ad. It turned out that two-thirds of 200
shoppers questioned said that they had read the ad. In addition, of those who
reported reading the ad, more than half spent over $100
in the store. This argument is unconvincing for two reasons.
To begin with, the authorís line of
reasoning is that the advertisement was the cause of the purchase of the sale
items. However, while the poll establishes
a correlation between reading the ad and purchasing sale
items, and also indicates a correlation,
though less significantly, between reading
the ad and buying non-sale items, it does not establish a general causal
relationship between these events.
To establish this relationship, other factors
that could bring about this result must be considered and eliminated. For
example, if the four days during which the
poll was conducted preceded Thanksgiving and the advertised items were
traditionally associated with this holiday,
then the results of the poll would be extremely biased
Moreover, the author assumes that the poll
indicates that advertising certain sale will cause a general increase in sales.
But the poll does not even address the
issue of increased overall sales; it informs us mainly that, of the people who
purchased sales items, more had read the
ad than not. A much clearer indicator of the adís effectiveness would be a
comparison of overall sales on days the ad ran with overall
sales on otherwise similar days when the ad did not run.
In sum, this argument is defective
mainly because the poll does not support
the conclusion that sales in general will increase when reduced-price
products are advertised in the Daily Gazette.
To strengthen the argument, the author must, at
the very least, provide comparisons
of overall sales reports as described above.