As if the random issues that women face in life aren’t enough, women’s products cost more in the marketplace. We may not realize it, but the differences in price are there when you do a side-by-side comparison. This guest post describes this gender-based price discrimination and how we can possibly fight it.
Author: Divya Premkumar, Financial Writer at The Female Economist
As surprising and sad as it may sound, women in 2020 are still in a more economically disadvantaged position than men. There is the gender pay gap where women are paid 81.6 cents on the dollar for doing the same job as men, and, unfortunately, there are gender prejudices in the workplace. PLUS, there are certain female products that are priced higher than the same product for males. This extra cost is commonly referred to as the pink tax.
What Is The Pink Tax?
Various items like personal care products, kids toys, and female clothing often have the same production costs, regardless of whether it was created for men or women. However, products marketed specifically towards women are often subject to price discrimination- that is a product designed for women costs more than the same product for men. This extra money women pay for the same products is called the “pink tax”.
When looking at an individual product, the difference can be quite subtle. For example, a men’s deodorant can cost $3.79 while a women’s deodorant can cost $3.99. This may not seem like much but the costs tend to add up over time. Another controversial aspect of the pink tax is the tampon tax which is an extra cost that women pay for feminine hygiene products.
The Pink Tax In Numbers
It’s not just women who fall prey to gender pricing; this issue is just as prevalent in clothes, toys, and other products marketed toward young girls. Studies show that the pink tax costs women $1,351 per year on average. Just think about how much that adds up to over the span of your lifetime!
There is a bevy of products on the market that are subject to the pink tax. For instance, shampoo for women is priced 48% higher than shampoo for men. As far as the ingredients go, the only visible difference is the scent. When it comes to toys; girl toys are priced 13% higher than for boys. A popular helmet brand sold blue helmets for boys at $14.99 and pink helmets for girls at $27.99.
Shampoo and toys are just a few of the many products that are subject to gender pricing. Razors, shaving cream, body wash, jeans, and even dry cleaning have significant price differences for men and women. On average women, pay 7% more for goods and services than men.
So How Do We Stop Paying The Pink Tax?
So the million-dollar question remains- how do I avoid the pink tax?
Unfortunately, there’s still no clear consensus on how one can avoid it completely. An easy solution would be to buy more gender-neutral products or even those marketed towards men. Shampoos and shaving creams often contain the same ingredients for both men and women.
Another way to fight the pink tax is to take a more proactive stance -AKA see something, say something. Charging more for everyday products like razors and shampoos (which are considered essential) is just plain wrong. It is important to call out brands that follow gender discriminatory pricing strategies. In November of 2019, the Ohio State of Representatives passed a bill to remove the tax on female hygiene products- bringing an end to the pink tax on these items. If we stand in unity against the pink tax, we can eradicate it completely- remember every voice counts!
Brands Fighting For Change
While there is no single solution to the pink tax, many brands have done their part to raise awareness on gender-pricing. Vrinda Gupta, a former Visa employee, created the Sequin card-specifically designed to counteract the pink tax. Historically, women have credit scores that are 9 points lower than men, despite having lower levels of debt. The Sequin card hopes to combat this issue by making ‘credit more approachable.’ The card allows women to earn rewards on visits to the salon, beauty purchases, and retail stores. Gupta believes that the program enables women to ‘vote with their dollar.’ There is no confirmed date for the release of the card but you can join the waitlist.
The tampon brand Lola has also been vocal about the pink tax. In June of 2019, the founders launched their ad campaign- Tax Free, Period. The ad featured women like Serena Williams and Karlie Kloss who brought awareness to the discriminatory pricing of female hygiene products. They encouraged viewers to use their voice to bring an end to the pressing issue. A tax on menstrual products is said to cost women more than $150 million each year. Although this price bias affects half the U.S population, nearly 35 states still tax these products.
The discussion on the pink tax is long overdue. While we may love our fruit-scented perfumes, there’s no valid reason why brands need to overcharge us. Moreover, period products are a basic necessity for women and the economics surrounding menstruation is one that needs to be addressed.
Women have taken to social media to voice their opinions on the pink tax with hashtags like #AxThePinkTax started by European Wax Center President of Marketing and Product Development Sherry Baker. Also, #pinktax and #genderpricing. You can join the movement as well.