The following appeared in a memorandum written by the assistant manager of a store that sells gourmet food items from various countries:
"A local wine store made an interesting discovery last month: it sold more French than Italian wine on days when it played recordings of French accordion music, but it sold more Italian than French wine on days when Italian songs were played. Therefore, I recommend that we put food specialties from one particular country on sale for a week at a time and play only music from that country while the sale is going on. By this means we will increase our profits in the same way that the wine store did, and we will be able to predict more precisely what items we should stock at any given time."
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion, be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion. (used with permission from mba.com)
This memorandum argues that playing music from a specific country will entice customers to purchase food from that same country. The manager argues that this will increase profits and help the store predict which items to stock. While the underlying discovery from the wine store may be valid, its application to these circumstances lacks evidence to show it will be effective.
The wine store's discovery that playing music from France increased sales of French wine over Italian and playing music from Italy increased sales of Italian wine over French cannot be directly applied to the gourmet food store. For starters, there is no way to guarantee this approach will have the same impact on food sales as it had on wine sales. Additionally, the store manager is assuming that music is the only factor that contributed to people buying wines from certain countries. We do not know if other factors were involved, such as weather impacting the type of wine purchased, if the clientele that frequented the wine store on those days regularly bought wine from those countries regardless, or if the wines had similar flavor profiles. Also, we do not know if the wine store offered special discounts on bottles of wine from these countries, which could further skew the data collected.
Additionally, the wine from Italy and the wine from France may be more similar than types of food offered at the gourmet store. For example, a French merlot and an Italian merlot will likely have similar flavor profiles, so the drinker may not care as much which country the wine is from. Food, on the other hand, can change drastically from one country to another, and thus may not be as easily influenced by music as wine sales. Furthermore, we do not know how the wine store changed its inventory during this study. They may have had more bottles available from Italy on one day and more from France on another, or they could have been consistent throughout the experiment and still had both options readily available.
Ultimately, the discovery from the wine store is interesting and may warrant further examination and study, but the findings should not be unilaterally applied to all other stores. Without further information regarding other factors that may have influenced wine purchasers, we do not know if utilizing music will truly influence people's purchasing choices. If the music doesn't have the same effect on shoppers at the gourmet food store, limiting their selections based on music may leave customers disappointed if they are unable to find the product they are looking for, thus actually negatively impacting business. While the discovery made by the wine store is interesting, there is not enough evidence to support applying these principles in the gourmet food store.
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