The following appeared in a memorandum from the new president of the Patriot car manufacturing company.
"In the past, the body styles of Patriot cars have been old-fashioned, and our cars have not sold as well as have our competitors' cars. But now, since many regions in this country report rapid increases in the numbers of newly licensed drivers, we should be able to increase our share of the market by selling cars to this growing population. Thus, we should discontinue our oldest models and concentrate instead on manufacturing sporty cars. We can also improve the success of our marketing campaigns by switching our advertising to the Youth Advertising agency, which has successfully promoted the country's leading soft drink."
With this argument, the president of the Patriot car manufacturing company is apparently attempting to persuade his or her audience that due to the fact that the body styles of the company’s cars have been old-fashioned in the past, the cars have not sold as well as those of the competition. The president continues on to advocate that the company should focus on selling cars to newly licensed drivers because many regions of the country have reported a rapid increase in the number of newly licensed drivers; that the company should discontinue its oldest models and concentrate on manufacturing sporty cars; and that the company’s marketing campaigns can be improved by changing over to the Youth Advertising Agency. At first look, the president’s argument seems reasonable but a closer examination reveals that it is based on faulty reasoning and it should therefore be rejected.
The first problem with the argument lies in the dubious reasoning attached to the idea that Patriot can increase its share of the market by selling cars to the growing population of newly licensed drivers that many regions in the country have reported. There is no evidence presented that newly licensed drivers buy cars, the president appears to merely assume this as a fact. Additionally, simply because many regions of the country report an increase in newly licensed drivers, it does not necessarily mean that this phenomenon is occurring in markets to which Patriot has access. The president’s argument is greatly weakened by failing to present support that newly licensed drivers are an accessible and viable market for Patriot automobiles of any type.
Secondly, Patriot’s president appears to assume that there is a causal relationship between the company’s “old-fashioned” body styles and sales relative to those of the competition, but fails to present any evidence whatsoever that this is actually the case. Several other possible causes for lower sales than competitors are not discussed, such as a fewer number of cars produced, the possible much higher cost of Patriot cars, a poor brand image, or a poor perception of the quality of Patriot automobiles, for example. Furthermore, the president states that the older models of cars should be discontinued with increased concentration on manufacturing sporty cars. There is nothing in the argument to support the idea that newly licensed drivers want to buy sporty cars, even assuming that Patriot’s body styles are “old-fashioned”.
Finally, the sum of this argument boils down to the unstated but apparent assumption by Patriot’s president that the company needs to focus on the youth market rather than the older market. The president argues that switching to the Youth Advertising Agency would improve the success of the company’s marketing campaigns. The president seems to assume that newly licensed drivers are young drivers, but there is no support for this conclusion anywhere in the argument. Furthermore, this part of the argument is also based on a false analogy – that the advertising agency can also promote automobiles simply because they also successfully promoted the country’s leading soft drink, which clearly has very little to do with the successful promotion of such a distinctly different product. Failing to provide any direct evidence that supports this part of the argument critically weakens the president’s conclusions.
In summary, this argument shows that the president has made several unproven assumptions leading to the conclusion that the company’s target market should be changed to focus on the youth market. Without direct evidence that these assumptions have a basis in fact, the argument must be rejected.