Somebody asked me whether I had a sample answer for the question below, which comes from Cambridge IELTS book 6. I realised I had an old essay that I wrote with some students, so I'm sharing that with you today.
Today, the high sales of popular consumer goods reflect the power of advertising and not the real needs of the society in which they are sold. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
It is true that we are increasingly surrounded by advertising by companies that want to sell us their products. To some extent I agree that advertising has an impact on sales, but I would also argue that we do need most of the goods that we buy.
Advertisements can certainly tempt people to buy products that they might not otherwise want. A good example could be the mobile phone. Every year people can be seen queuing to buy the latest models, even when they already have a perfectly good phone that does not need replacing. Perhaps it is the influence of marketing that leads us to make these kinds of decisions; we want to stay up-to-date with the latest fashions or own the newest high-status device. The high sales of the iPhone seem to support this idea.
On the other hand, I believe that most people do not buy products because of the advertising alone. There are other good reasons why we make these choices, and there must be some kind of need before a person makes a purchase. New versions of products almost always have improved features that buyers may want. A new car, for example, may have greatly improved safety features, or it may be more economical to run, or it may pollute less. A new phone may allow the user to communicate more quickly or effectively, thus enhancing their quality of life.
In conclusion, while advertising obviously influences our buying behaviour, I do not agree that people make decisions that go against their real needs.
I wrote this essay with my students during a lesson using the students' ideas. I haven't checked it properly, so maybe we can analyse it together. It might not be perfect!