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GRE Argument Essay: Memo From The New Vice President Of Sartorian, A Company That Manufactures Men's Clothing - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: 'The following appeared in a memo from the new vice president of Sartorian, a company that manufactures men's clothing. "Five years ago, at a time when we had difficulties in obtaining reliable supplies of high quality wool fabric, we discontinued production of our alpaca overcoat. Now that we have a new fabric supplier, we should resume production. This coat should sell very well: since we have not offered an alpaca overcoat for five years and since our major competitor no longer makes an alpaca overcoat, there will be pent-up customer demand.
Also, since the price of most types of clothing has increased in each of the past five years, customers should be willing to pay significantly higher prices for alpaca overcoats than they did five years ago, and our company profits will increase." 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 the argument, the authorís recommeNdation contains several unaddressed issues that can potentially invalidate authorís conclusion. First of all, the author implies a link between Sartorian's and the other major competitor's having stopped making alpaca overcoats for five years, and the current demand for alpaca overcoats. In order to verify this suggested link, we need evidence about the reason that made the other competitor stop making alpaca overcoats. Is it because the other competitor does not have reliable supplies of high quality wool fabric? If it is because that the other competitor is capable of manufacturing alpaca overcoats, but they find out customers do not like wearing alpaca overcoats anymore, or alpaca overcoats are out of fashion, then, this would not predict a large demand for alpaca overcoats. If the latter possibility is proven to be true, then it would significantly weaken the authorís argument.
In addition, the author claims that people will pay more for alpaca overcoats because the price of most types of clothing has increased. To test the veracity of this claim, we need evidence to show that, nowadays, people are willing to spend more money on coats, or on alpaca overcoats specifically. It is possible that the increasing of clothing price is due to inflation instead of people being willing to pay more on their clothing. If this is the case, people might not want to buy alpaca overcoats at all since alpaca overcoats are relatively expensive. The alternative possibility can weaken the authorís claim.
Finally, the author suggests that selling alpaca overcoats will be more profitable, because the retail price for alpaca overcoats is high. In order to make the argument more persuasive, we need evidence about how much it costs to manufacture alpaca overcoats. If the price of fabric has increased significantly, and compensates for the higher retail price, then, selling alpaca overcoats would not be very profitable as predicated.
Overall, the authorís conclusion is based on several details that the author fails to give substantial evidence to validate. Thus, in order to make the recommendation more sound, the author should provide more concrete evidence.
Your basic arguments are fine. I think the situation with respect to the claim about pent up demand is a little more complex than you make it appear, but it's probably not an especially big deal. The claim that there might be a pent up demand for alpaca overcoats seems to presuppose that there has been either a continuous demand for alpaca overcoats regardless of the availability of other overcoats or a preference among consumers for alpaca overcoats over other types of overcoat. Only under such conditions would demand build up rather than, say, fizzle out in the circumstance of alpaca overcoats being unavailable. Of course evidence of the kind you suggest (i.e., about the reason the competitor stopped making alpaca overcoats) would certainly help resolve the issue if the evidence showed that the market for the coats had dwindled. But even if the competitor stopped selling the coat for other reasons, that doesn't mean that there will be pent up demand, although obviously it increases the likelihood of such demand existing. For it may be obviously be the case that customers were content to purchase other coats. Of course it may also be the case that customers purchased alpaca overcoats elsewhere (the fact that the major competitor stopped selling them doesn't mean every coat-making company in the universe stopped making them).
In your second and third argument, you have identified the correct issue, but the evidence you look for first seems a bit implausible to me (I'm not sure how GRE readers would feel about this, I should admit). You ask for evidence that people are willing to spend more money on coats. The original argument, however, is presenting evidence to that effect. You could perhaps ask for other specific, more compelling evidence that would better allow you to determine the willingness of customers to pay more for the overcoats. (But what specific evidence?) It seems to me that the second and third argument, however, should really be thought together. In other words, the real question is not whether customers are willing to pay more, but whether their paying more will result in the expected higher profits, which depends, as you say, on whether there has been inflation over the past years and whether there has been, in particular, increases in the cost of manufacturing the coats.