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Nature's Way GRE Essay - With A Free Essay Review
Nature's Way, a chain of stores selling health food and other health-related products, is opening its next franchise in the town of Plainsville. The store should prove to be very successful: Nature's Way franchises tend to be most profitable in areas where residents lead healthy lives, and clearly Plainsville is such an area. Plainsville merchants report that sales of running shoes and exercise clothing are at all-time highs. The local health club has more members than ever, and the weight training and aerobics classes are always full. Finally, Plainsville's schoolchildren represent a new generation of potential customers: these schoolchildren are required to participate in a fitness-for-life program, which emphasizes the benefits of regular exercise at an early age. 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.
The author of this argument states that opening Nature's Way store in Plainsville would be very successful because Nature's Way franchises tend to be most profitable in areas where residents lead healthy lives. The author has made three assumptions and used them as strong points in concluding that opening Nature's Way's next franchise in Plainsville would be successful.
First of all, the author states that Nature's Way franchises are successful in the areas where residents lead healthy lives. The success of the store in those areas may also be because of the absence of other competitive stores that sell health-related products in those areas or because of discounts are promotions that the store proves on every product. The author should have provided some more evidence like surveys of people on why they purchase from Nature's Way in order to prove his assumption true. If, from a survey report, we can conclude that the success of Nature's Way franchises is not because it is in a area where healthy people live, then the argument will lose its basis.
The second assumption is that the residents of Plainsville town lead healthy lives. The author seems to have concluded this from the information collected from Plainsville merchants, the local health club and the weight training and aerobics classes. The local merchants have reported that running shoes and exercise clothing are sold the most always. This may be because wearing sporting cloths may be the latest trend of wearing clothes in the town of Plainsville and hence people buy such clothing. Next, the local health club report states that it has more members than ever and the weight training and aerobics classes are always full. This does are necessarily mean that the people in Plainsville are health conscious. This may also be because most of the people in Plainsville are not healthy and they join in health club and aerobics classes because of their doctor's advice. The author has collected information from various parts of the town, but has not put in any effort in taking a survey from people on why they buy sporting cloths, join health club and physical exercise classes. If the survey report states that people do not take up these activities to stay healthy, as assumed by the author, then the argument cannot conclude that new Nature's Way franchise would be successful in Plainsville.
Finally, the author assumes that school children are new generation of potential customers. The author has supported this assumption with the fact that school children are required to participate in a fitness-for-life program, which emphasizes the benefits of regular exercise at an early age. Just because the school children participate in a fitness-for-life program, one cannot come to the conclusion that they would practice regular exercise. Students participate in fitness program because they are required to do so. The students may not even like taking part in these programs. The author has not provided any stong evidence to prove that the students participate in fitness program to practice exercises regularly and not because their parents or teachers ask them to.
If the above assumptions are proved wrong, the argument does not stand a chance and opening a new Nature's Way franchise in Plainsville may not be successful.
You claim first that the success of the stores in areas where residents lead healthy lives may be caused by other factors. What you need to improve here is the way you specify the nature of the assumption, which you have not clearly identified here, although you have implicitly identified it. The assumption is that there is a direct causal link between the fact that residents lead healthy lives and the profitability of stores, and that the presence of such residents is sufficient to explain that profitability. It may be, as you show, that other factors contribute to the success of those stores. Note that you then explain what the author ought to have done to create a more compelling argument, but the prompt doesn't ask you to do that. Focus on accomplishing the assigned task: clarifying the nature of the assumption, how the argument depends on it, and the consequences for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted. You don't need to invoke a survey as a solution to the problem, and since a survey would not in fact solve the problem (because the other factors might have to do with the size of the potential customer base or with the relative prosperity of areas in which the store is successful) it would probably be better not to invoke it.
You claim that the second assumption of the argument is that "the residents of Plainsville town lead healthy lives." The actual assumption of course is that we can determine how healthy the lives of Plainsville residents are on the basis of recent sales figures for exercise clothing (I say "recent" because the argument refers to sales being at an "all-time high," so it is clearly referring to the most recent sales figures), recent membership numbers for the local health club, and the fact that certain classes are always full. Notice how little we actually know about the sales figures for exercise clothing: we know the figures are higher than they have ever been, but that still may not be very high in absolute numbers. The same can be said for health club membership. And since we don't know the size of the classes or the size of the town, the fact that they are full is not very useful information in itself. So the argument is assuming that the healthiness of the lives of residents can be judged by recent increases in certain sales and membership figures without the need to consider absolute figures relative to the size of the population (or indeed whether the population, even if it is "healthy" is of sufficient size to support a Nature's Way store).
The purpose of my previous paragraph was to demonstrate what specifying and examining an assumption might look like. The point is that if you specify the assumption properly, it becomes a bit easier to examine it and you won't find yourself trying to imagine hypothetical scenarios where people buying exercise clothing and going to gyms doesn't mean they are interested in healthy living. You do a pretty good job of imagining such scenarios and it can obviously be helpful to do so, but it can also be difficult to do so depending on the argument you are analysing. And, again, you are probably just wasting your time trying to solve the problem created by assumptions by suggesting another survey. You don't need to invoke a survey to claim "if the assumptions are unwarranted, then no conclusion can be drawn about the possible success of Nature's Way in Plainsville"
The same problem (lack of specificity with respect to the identified assumption) occurs in the final part of your essay. The author does not "assume" that "school children are a new generation of potential customers." He claims that they are a new generation of potential customers. Note that there is no explicit argument here that these children will become health-conscious adults and therefore part of Nature's Way customer base. That argument is implicit, however. You can therefore say that the implicit argument assumes that fitness-for-life programs have a long term impact on the lifestyle of those enrolled in such programs as children.