Pink Tax: Are women paying more?

Woman with a pink turtleneck shirt, red overcoat, and multiple shopping paper bags.

When you shop at almost any retail store, you can see that men’s and women’s products are marketed differently. Products intended for man in other words, “Masculine” products usually come with black, grey, or navy-blue packaging, while “Feminine” products have pink or light purple packages and are hard to miss.

Sometimes the only difference between male and female products is only the color, scent, and…Price. Many products have gender-based pricing, while the feminine product might be the same as its male counterpart, it is more expensive. The difference between the prices is what we call a “Pink Tax.”

What is Pink Tax?

It is a phenomenon, often attributed to gender-based price discrimination. The Pink Tax is extra money women have to pay during their lifetime while buying everyday products or services, such as razors, shampoo, clothes, dry cleaning, and other services alike.

Usually, beauty, hygiene, and self-care products are more heavily “taxed”. However, Pink Tax is common in children’s toys, clothes (for children as well as adults), and other everyday items.

There is a controversy regarding the existence of the Pink Tax. While some scholars state that price discrimination exists, others claim that it does not. According to them, price differences can be explained by the product value and women’s shopping preferences. For example, women’s haircut costs more than men’s, but it is because women get complex haircuts, therefore, the hairdresser spends more time and delivers more value.

Does not matter on which side you are on this debate the price difference exists. And if you happen to be a woman, you might have been paying extra money without even noticing it.

A razor is a good example. It is a simple, cheap product that often comes in blue and pink colors. And usually, pink costs more. The same goes for the toys – if you have a boy and a girl you might have to pay different prices for pink and blue items, that are otherwise identical. So Pink Tax is not just about feminine products, it’s everyday items too, like pens and even calculators.

How much more are women paying?

Let’s talk numbers. If we discuss the price of one item only, the difference does not seem like a big deal. Paying 40 cents extra for a pink razor, 80 cents more for a shampoo, or 1-2 dollars more for a t-shirt does not seem to make much difference. But it does. According to the study conducted by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs in 2015 women pay 7% more for female products, than men for similar or identical items.

The difference is highest in personal care products, where female products cost 13% more, followed by home/more senior health care products and adult closing (8% difference), toys and accessories (7%), and children’s clothing (4%).

When paying Pink Tax for one or two items whilst shopping, the difference does not seem much, but according to statistics, Pink Tax will cost you around $40 000 in total by the time you are in your 30s and $82 000 in your 60s.

How to avoid Pink Tax?

If after reading these figures, you feel like you should not have to pay more, just because feminine products are more expensive, you would have to change your shopping strategy. It is the best way to deal with the Pink Tax on an individual level. Here are some tips on how to avoid pink tax while shopping:

Research companies that stand against the Pink Tax (there are quite a few companies that say no to gender-pricing). Support such companies by buying their products.

Choose gender-neutral items. The difference between some everyday items, like razors or pens, is just a color. Some products differ with the scent as well, like shampoos or deodorants. If you do not want to pay more for such products, but at the same time, you don’t want to buy “male” products and smell like a man, you can always go for the gender-neutral products.

Compare prices when shopping. In some areas, people do not have that much diversity when buying everyday items. At the same time, specific items might not have gender-neutral alternatives. But you can compare the prices and choose the cheaper alternatives. Some of the male products might be not just cheaper but come with better quality as well.

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