What is it?
The root cause reason question type asks candidates to select from among the proposed answers the one that may actually constitute the reason behind the fact stated in the question.
Zapclothing is a global fast fashion retailer catering to teenage girls, which owns shops all over Europe. Five years ago, the top management of Zapclothing decided to embark on an upmarket move, in order to cater to a slightly older and more affluent customer base. Leading Italian and French stylists were hired by Zapclothing to create bespoke and unique clothing designs. Prices were raised on the whole product line by 20%-30% and a series of events in all major global cities was launched in order to build a more upscale and sophisticated brand image.
Whilst initially the mid-market transition boosted profit margins without altering sales volumes, one year after the introduction of upscale clothing the company found itself with plummeting revenues and a decreasing profit margin. In order to bring back profit volumes to the previous higher levels, the marketing manager proposed a permanent price reduction of 10% across the board on all product lines.
Which of the following facts, if true, would best challenge the sales manager’s proposal for price reduction?
Tips & Tricks
Right answers for root cause reason questions have two elements in common:
- They are relevant - they have an effect on the target stated in the introductory paragraph.
- They are going in the right direction - their effect on the target should be going in the direction stated in the question (support or challenge).
There are usually three type of answer options for root cause reason questions:
- Not relevant. These are answers that have no or limited effect on the conclusion/proposal, such as answers A and C in the example above. By identifying what sort of fact would challenge the conclusion/proposal, you’ll be able to isolate answers that have simply no influence or only a partial influence. In the latter case, do not assume anything that is not mentioned or clearly inferable logically and cross the answer out.
Relevant, but going in the wrong direction.
These are answers that affect the conclusion/proposal, but the effect is going in the opposite
direction. For example, answer D above is actually reinforcing rather than challenging the sales
manager’s proposal. It is therefore essential that you always keep in mind what the question asks and
what kind of facts would be effective in answering the question.
One of the most common mistakes in root-cause reason questions is selecting answers that are relevant, but whose effect goes in a direction which is opposite to the one requested.
- Relevant and going in the right direction. These are answers that affect the conclusion/proposal in the right manner according to the parameters set by the question.