In 2019, newfound attention turned to an economic phenomenon that had slipped under the radar. Half of the national population was spending significantly more on day-to-day purchases, such as hygiene products, apparel, and even children’s toys. They made up our country’s teachers, laborers, politicians, daughters, wives, and mothers. And on average, they spend almost $1,351 more a year on extra costs compared to men.
Companies had divided the market into two different segments: men and women. They marketed products to each gender and customized them to suit each genders’ “needs.” Companies notched up prices on the women’s side of the market to allow lower prices on the men’s products. This price difference in products targeting women versus men is known as the pink tax.
In a New York City Department of Consumer Affairs study on the cost of being a female consumer, they found that in 42% of all their recorded instances, women paid more for a similar product. In comparison, in only 18% of their cases, men paid a higher price. Additionally, the study found that women’s products cost, on average, 7% more than men’s products. In toys and accessories for children, girl’s toys cost 7% more. Unsurprisingly, women’s clothing costs 8% more than men’s clothing, and most astonishingly, personal care items, like razors, lotions, and hair products, were a striking 13% higher for women.
An average of 7% more on each product may not seem drastic at first, but as each charge builds up, a woman spends almost $1,351 more annually on unfairly priced products. When women make much less money – 81 cents to a man’s dollar – and spend more on products, the pink tax hinders a women’s ability to save her money. The pink tax holds women to a financial and economic disadvantage. It inhibits women from social and economic mobility, which creates a wealth disparity between men and women across America.
Additionally, the pink tax takes advantage of societal pressures for women to be overly conscious of their body image. When studying the price differences of Old Navy’s plus-size jeans, there was a notable $12 to $15 difference between women’s plus-sized jeans and their counterparts. On the contrary, there was no substantial difference in pricing for men’s Old Navy jeans and their plus-sized equivalents. Old Navy’s pricing system highlights the ostracization of plus-sized women, whom the pink tax punishes for both their gender and body. Companies continue to take advantage of the higher standard of body image set for women to sell higher-priced counterparts.
Some economists, like Jennifer Doleac, believe that price discrimination is better for the market because it allows more people to access the product for a lower price. However, the lower price only reaches half of the consumers – the male segment of the market. Doleac suggests that women diligently avoid pink-taxed products and buy from companies that do not resort to price discrimination. However, Linda Yueh, an author and economist, believes that federal regulation would create the best impact. Yueh suggests that price discrimination isn’t better for the market because consumers are paying higher prices to get products that aren’t inherently better than their cheaper counterparts. Since consumers buy certain products simply because of marketing practices, it doesn’t result in increased innovation and improvement in the market.
Some argue against passing legislation to regulate the pink tax, citing that women are paying for a higher selection of products. In many cases, this is not true; in terms of baby clothing and strollers’ or toys and accessories, there are equal numbers of products for both genders.
Additionally, the razors market, which is heavily pink taxed, is geared towards men and contains many more male products. Yet, there is a vast price difference between the two: in the case of Bic’s male and female razors, the male razors were 78 cents each, while the female razors were $1.08, making it a 32% difference. Minimizing the pink tax as the price women must pay for having more options ignores examples of unfair pricing and reinforces a system that makes it harder for women to be financially independent.
There is no easy way to resolve the pink tax. In some markets, companies may lose profits because their market for women holds more choice and expense. But in others, women are unfairly charged for products. From a consumer’s standpoint, distinguishing whether the price difference is either discriminatory or fair is difficult and time-consuming.
Credit: Bill aims to end ‘Pink Tax’ on products through regulation
There is no easy way to resolve the pink tax, but campaigns like Axe the Pink Tax are trying. Campaigns have both partnered with legislators and brought newfound publicity to the issue. Companies like Billie have worked to create innovative products for women, while also eliminating the pink tax from their products. Supporting campaigns and companies that continue to spread awareness and price products fairly can result in more companies eliminating the pink tax in their products.
Credit: Infographic found at #AxethePinkTax
Additionally, people can take part in Jennifer Doleac’s solution by being diligent consumers that spend their money at places that do not enforce the pink tax. They can support the Pink Tax Repeal Act, which would allow the Federal Trade Commission to implement rules on disproportionate pricing for each gender, as Linda Yueh suggested.
As an issue that affects the entirety of the national population – not just half, because the pink tax can both benefit and disadvantage consumers – it deserves to be thought about, discussed, and acted upon. Today, consumers hold companies accountable for the social consequences of their actions or inactions. As consumers, we have enormous power. As consumers, we can vote with our wallets. And as consumers, we can eliminate the pink tax.
“As consumers, we have enormous power.”
|Source Article||More information|
|NYC DCA Report||From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer available at NYCDCA Report|
|Axe The Pink Tax||Pink Tax site from the European Wax Center|
|The Problem with the Pink Tax||NPR’s Gender Gap series highlights the pink tax issues|
|The Pink Tax||What’s the cost of being a female consumer in 2020? Listen Money Matters|
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