The gender-based price difference, also known as ‘Pink Tax” is everywhere. It is the tendency to make products more expensive than those marketed towards men. Most of the time, the products intended for women only have a packaging difference. The main component or ingredients is the same as products marketed towards men. In other words, it is not a tax, it is just an exploitation of the female demographic. This market scenario often attributes to gender-based price discrimination. The name came from an observation that many of the affected female products are pink, which is the stereotypical color associated with the female gender.
Existing as a woman is pricey
According to a recently published NYC Department of Consumer Affairs study, the cost of the products marketed toward women demographic on average was 7% more than products marketed toward men. The study compared two identical-looking Radio Flyer scooters. The only difference between them was the color. The pink scooter cost $49 compared to the same model in red color costing $24.99 even though both scooters function the same.
This discrepancy applies to various products in the market ranging from apparel, toys, and healthcare products. For example, clothing targeted towards women was 8% more expensive than those targeted towards men. The largest discrepancy came to personal care/hygiene products, where women products costed more than men products. In addition, it is not only limited to adults but also kids where girls’ toys cost on average 7% more than boys’ toys in the toy sector. In the apparel section, girls’ clothes costed 4% more than boys’ clothes.
Earning less but paying more
The pink tax has a massive economic impact on women. For instance, for many, the cost of period products is a deciding factor on whether or not they will have food on their plate. Women have less purchasing power, especially when paired with the gender-based pay gap. Women currently make half of what men make. Consequently, they have less income to spend on goods and services. This situation is bringing gender dysphoria by giving men more money and, ultimately, more buying power. The pink tax mainly contributes to the economic inequality between men and women.
Big corporations often target women heavily. There are several arguments to justify that. One theory suggests the cost of manufacturing women products is higher than men products because there is higher R&D cost and additional expenses in terms of designing and packaging are involved. But there are no studies presented on that. In addition, women are considered less price-elastic. They are generally ready to pay higher prices for goods than men. Selling goods at a higher price to those in greater need is the marketing gimmick to create price discrimination.
We all know about the monthly struggles with the unavoidable aunt flow. Period hygiene is necessary but yet it is something that many cannot afford. Unsanitary practices like using old rags or clothes as pads can lead to significant health risks such as HPV leading to infertility and death. Still, tampons and pads are is not provided as healthcare products. It cost as a regular cosmetic product.
So what is being done?
After a relentless campaign by activists, finally, in 2018, the Government of India slashed the 12 % GST on menstrual products. Many developed countries are yet to work on the reduction of menstrual product costs. So it can be considered a huge step.
However, our society needs to have a long-overdue discussion about female biology and its associated cost. Studies and retail experts say that our society generally holds women to a higher standard for their appearance than their counterparts. Corporations prey on these insecurities. We all need to be aware of these tactics and acts of manipulation. It is already tough being a woman in this world, but charging us for just existing is a whole new level of insanity. Open discussion around the economics of the female body and its working will prompt more practicality and compassion for those that need products to manage it.