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The Pink Tax has long been a contested and detested fact of consumer packaged goods and gender equality. The effect named the Pink Tax, because it seemingly comes down to a product being made smaller and pink to appeal to women, stipulates that said product is more expensive solely because it is smaller, pinker, and more feminine. As if being a woman or female consumer means that you are going to pay a premium for the item. This effect has been observed in pricing for everything from children’s bicycle helmets and tricycles to women’s razors and deodorants.


deodorant and the pink tax


However, the question for me comes down to is the female centered product REALLY being priced higher unfairly? Although I know many feminists would call me out about the sheer fact that shelf to shelf pricing parity looks horribly askew. However, I want to ask the average consumer a couple of questions that are strictly about the numbers. How many men’s deodorant brand campaigns have you seen in magazines, commercials, etc? The answer is you’ve probably seen many, many less ads for male products than female ones.


Additionally, ad space in men’s magazines is quantifiably cheaper than in women’s magazines with Dove deodorant for women going up against big fashion brands, handbag retailers, and others for space.  It’s a simple fact that men’s magazines have less competition for ad space among products with the average 1/3 page ad in Men’s Health, with a rate base of 1.8M readers is priced at $112,000. Comparably, a rate base of 750,000 readers is priced at $88,000 for 1/3 page ad.


the pink tax men versus women

Additionally, women’s product offerings and options far outweigh men’s meaning that expensive ad campaigns during prime time tv are ran. The sheer fact that more expense goes into the cost of acquisition for one female consumer is the main culprit behind the alleged Pink Tax for products like deodorants, body washes, and hair care products. The one use case that remains puzzling is the disposable razor case where the blue standard stick razors are priced less than the disposable pink razors of the same type.


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A bit of logic can help us deduce that it’s merely the manufacturer trying to recoup production costs based on frequency of purchase. A men’s disposable razor is generally good for one shave on the delicate skin of the face and then it is unusable. As women don’t typically use the pink single use disposables for their faces but instead for legs and underarms, the cost per use goes down for the consumer. To compensate and ensure steady profits given the time to re-purchase, manufacturers price the product more for women’s consumption as they purchase less frequently.

It’s very easy to blindly assume there is no rationale for the pricing, but in reality as anyone who has studied consumer price sensitivity and pricing theory will tell you – the price isn’t arbitrarily chosen and it certainly isn’t purposefully and willfully chosen to punish women. It’s a matter of economics.

Author Mischaela Elkins

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