A recent survey of brand preferences showed that R-Bar Beans are considered the best of all brands among all age groups, leading both Texas T Beans and Aunt Sally’s Beans by a wide margin. However, the national sales figures show that Texas T and Aunt Sally’s each sold many more cans of beans last year than did R-Bar.

Each of the following would, by itself, help to resolve the apparent paradox described in the passage EXCEPT:

[A]. Texas T Beans and Aunt Sally’s Beans are each much less expensive than R-Bar Beans.
[B]. Some of the surveyed age groups showed more of a preference for R-Bar Beans than did others.
[C]. The survey was carried out only in the small geographic area where R-Bar distributes its beans, not nationwide.
[D]. Most food stores refuse to carry R-Bar Beans because the manufacturer demands that R-Bar Beans be carried exclusively.
[E]. R-Bar Beans were only introduced to the market three months prior to the calculation of sales figures, while Texas T Beans and Aunt Sally’s Beans had been available for years.
Answer: B

Here we get another curious situation: R-Bar Beans sell fewer cans nationally than its competitors, even though R-Bar Beans are preferred among all age groups in a recent survey. This seems odd, because we would normally expect that people would buy more of a product that they find superior. So what’s going on? Four of the choices, if true, would help resolve the discrepancy, and one of them (the credited response) would not. If (B) were true, and the preference for R-Bar Beans is more pronounced in some groups as opposed to others, then we would expect R-Bar Beans to have more success in those R-Bar favourite groups. However, we would still expect R-Bar Beans to have the overall lead in bean sales, since R-Bar is preferred among all age groups. That isn’t the case, as R-Bar ranks at best third in sales. (B) adds nothing to our understanding of how R-Bar compares with the other brands, and thus doesn’t help us solve the mystery.

(A) If the other beans are cheaper than R-Bar Beans, then it’s not surprising that some people buy them even if they think R-Bar Beans taste better. It’s no shock that Hondas outsell Rolls Royces, even though most people would prefer to drive a Rolls.

(C) If the survey is not representative of the national market, and if R-Bar Beans are not even available nationwide, then it’s no wonder that R-Bar isn’t #1.

(D) If many stores refuse to carry R-Bar, then reduced sales for R-Bar would be expected.

(E) solves the mystery by telling us that R-Bar sales figures reflect only three months of sales as compared with a full year of sales for the two competitors. No wonder R-Bar sold far fewer cans of beans last year than the others even though the recent survey shows that customers prefer R-Bar. Once R-Bar does catch on, though, there’s a good chance that Texas T and Aunt Sally’s will be “has-beans.”

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