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What is the Pink Tax? Which Products and Services Cost More if You’re a Woman?

What is the Pink Tax? Which Products and Services Cost More if You’re a Woman?

Is the pink tax real? You can clearly see gender-based packaging at any aisle at drugstores: from women’s razors to body wash to shaving cream; gender packaging is visibly noticeable, but what about gender pricing? The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs conducted a study comparing nearly 800 products from more than 90 brands to figure out if there was a price difference between male and female versions of the same product. According to the report, female consumer products cost more than male consumer products 42% of the time.

How being a female consumer can damage our personal finances

The DCA report found that over a woman’s lifetime, she will spend $1,351 per year for the exact same service as a man. Some people are skeptical about the pink tax being real, but there is real research behind it:

  • On average, women’s products cost 7% more than men’s products
  • Women spend $828 more every year on appearance and care-related activities and products.
  • Women personal care products cost more 56% of the time
  • Women pay 27% more for the identical service of laundering a basic white cotton shirt

The History of the Pink Tax

Historically, there were no federal laws that stopped companies from charging different prices that were basically identical. Additionally, in the U.S, import tariffs on women’s clothing were higher than those of men. This gave manufacturers a reason to tax women’s products higher than men’s products.

However, companies use marketing strategies, like “pink it and shrink it,” that contribute to the pink tax. This strategy makes everyday products smaller and pink and sells them at a higher price point.

What is Being Done About The Pink Tax?

In April 2019, the Pink Tax Repeal Act was re-introduced to Congress – following two earlier versions from 2016 and 2018 – by Representative Jackie Speier. Speier was responsible for the Gender Tax Repeal Act of 1995, California’s law that banned gender-based pricing. The proposed federal legislation would make it illegal for companies to charge women and men different prices for similar products or services.

In February 2020, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled the 10th proposal of his 2020 State of the State agenda – eliminating the pink tax. “Women shouldn’t be nickel and dimed their entire lives because of their gender - it’s discriminatory and repugnant to our values, and we’re putting an end to it,” he said during his unveiling.

While lawmakers have made an effort to eliminate gender-based pricing, we can’t count on companies to immediately shift their pricing.

3 Ways to Avoid the Pink Tax:

  • Support companies like Boxed, who are taking a stand against the pink tax with gender-neutral pricing.
  • Buy more gender-neutral items when shopping for personal care items.
  • Use comparison shopping tools to compare prices.

3 Brands Supporting Price Equality:

  • Boxed is enforcing price equality for women by offering razors, soap, deodorant, and shaving gels at a gender-neutral price, and tampons are tax-free!
  • Brandless offers beauty and home health care products without the increased packaging. That means offering affordable and gender-neutral products!
  • Soapwalla is a body product company that creates unisex products, so there’s no price discrepancy.

Sources:

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Report
Governor Cuomo 2020 Proposal
Pink Tax Repeal Act

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