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Same product, different price: Why women’s products cost more


Same product, different price: Why women's products cost more | Deseret News

Does packaging an item in pink turn it into a luxury item? Some think so.

As if women weren’t already making less money, 78 cents for every dollar a man earns because of the wage gap, the "pink tax" may be overcharging women at the store too.

Studies show that women are paying more for everyday items and services, like deodorant, razors, shaving cream and dry cleaning, than for comparable items marketed to men.

Some manufacturers of shampoo and deodorant said the reason their products for women cost more was because they cost more to produce than the men’s versions, The Huffington Post reported.

A 2011 study by the University of Central Florida found that deodorant, which only differed by scent between men’s and women’s products, was on average 30 cents more expensive.

“It's a similar case for most products marketed to women, such as razors and shampoo, which smell different and look different but at the end of the day serve the same purpose as scent-less, glitter-less versions,” according to the Huffington Post.

This unfair pricing also applies to health care, import taxes and even medicine. The study by the University of Central Florida found that Excedrin Extra Strength and Excedrin Menstrual Strength — the same ingredients with a different name and package — were priced differently, too.

This isn’t a new conversation — women have been talking about this for years. Slate ran an article in 1998 about how dry cleaners offer to clean and press men’s shirts for $1.65 but charge $5.25 to do the same for a women’s blouse.

This issue resurfaced in November when a French feminist group began collecting signatures to bring attention to unfair pricing policies at the French retailer Monoprix that were costing women extra, The New York Times wrote in an editorial.

While the pink tax may be real, there are some unexplored factors that may explain the phenomenon, St. Lawrence University economics professor Steven Horwitz wrote for the Foundation for Economic Education.

The products may be made differently or the consumers may place different subjective values on them. For example, women may pay more than men to get their haircuts perfect rather than acceptable, Horwitz explained.

“There may be differentials that we can’t explain and we might tentatively conclude that there appears to be discrimination,” he wrote. “But that means we have to keep looking for alternative explanations. The differentials are unexplained — but not necessarily unjust.”

Elizabeth Plank in an article for Mic suggested women start circumventing the pink tax by purchasing products marketed to men.

“Until companies fix this unfair sexist practice, you won't find me in the women's aisle,” she wrote. “If I smell "like a man," you can blame the system.”

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I had never heard the phrase "the pink tax" before.

Price is a complicated thing -- it's determined not only by supply and demand, but by how much companies think people will pay.

So in their testing these companies must have determined that women are willing to pay more.

But what is a consumer to do? Just buy the equivalent non-pink version and forget about the gendering of the product's label itself?

The really weird thing is... I understand that most hygiene products FOR BOTH GENDERS are marketed to women, because they're the ones who buy stuff for the whole household! ps There is nothing funnier than seeing a bunch of young single guys trying to pick out a body wash...

What's there really to choose about a body wash? Aren't they all pretty much the same?

If that were true, why would Axe even exist in its nauseating glory?

Axe is a triumph of marketing over necessity. 

I kind of suspect that they make Axe so that any human who is not a teenage wannabe douchebag will pay double for a body wash that smells completely different. So if ransom notes count as a form of marketing triumph... yes, we are in violent agreement.

LOL. Well said Halibutboy.

I think somebody should take up the cause of the "teenage wannabe douchebag tax"... 

I'm outraged!

It's hard enough being a teenager without having to pay extra taxes, Rob. :)

The economic term for this is "price discrimination" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_discrimination  and it is done in various forms all the time. The same seat in a movie theater costs more for an adult than a child. The same seat on an airplane costs differently depending on when you purchased it. Amazingly: the identical product costs more when branded than generic. Food labeled organic is always more expensive despite evidence that in many cases, there is no difference in the end product. Just one of the many paradoxes of human decision making. To call it a "pink tax" suggests that it is not the very consumers themselves who have chosen to pay up. What kind of "tax" would you call it for the person who buys Tide detergent instead of the exact same formula in the Costco label? Or Chevron-branded gasoline that came out of the same refinery and delivery truck that filled the Beacon station down the street?

Exactly.  Well said, Kurt.

I'll add medical costs.   Prices for treatments, medications, surgery, and hospital stays, vary hospital to hospital, and insurance to insurance, with no rhyme or reason, other than what they think they can get you to pay.

Uber even popularized the name "surge pricing".

A price is what people will pay. To make them drop the price we have to not pay.

Several comments on this thread refer to "what they think they can get you to pay." Almost as if there is something wrong with that. Is anyone unclear that this is how markets work? With the same on the other side: the buyer is trying to get something for the best price that a merchant will take to sell it? You wouldn't complain if an item went on sale, would you? Or complain that you paid less for your kid's ticket at the movies than you payed for your own.

You are correct that that is how markets work.

It's difficult to organize consumers to not pay though, since some people will probably think the higher price is still fair.

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