Pink Tax: Building The Gender Price Gap?


When it comes to marketing for the female consumer there are endless possibilities. Major industries such as the fashion and beauty industry have honed in on the buying power of women and are making significant profits; more than 460 billion USD a year.  Female consumers are eager to experiment with new gadgets while staying on top of the latest trends in the industry, this why industries often release a wider variety of product offerings for women. Consequently, this has created a significant increase in consumer spending. According to the Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of all consumer spending in the US is influenced by women. With women driving most of the consumer spending, companies have taken the opportunity to add a premium price to personal care products such as razors and shampoo. This increase in price on the female version of these items has created a gender price gap known as “The Pink Tax”.

The Pink Tax is most commonly found on personal female hygiene products but has also been implemented in some service industries. According to a study conducted by The New York Department of Consumer Affairs, shampoos and conditioners marketed towards women cost an average of 48% more than those targeted for their male counterparts. Overall the study found that items advertised for females cost 42% more than those marketed towards men. Additional research done by the state of California, shows that women spend $1351 more on items and services that are not specifically women-oriented. For example, dry cleaner’s charge more to clean a woman’s shirt than a man’s shirt due to size and fabric. The premium price added to female products and the gender price gap women face have stirred the conversation on how manufacturers and marketers can reduce the pink tax phenomenon.

There are some logical reasons why women’s products cost more than men’s, even when those items look similar. For instance, manufacturers have expressed that most of women garments require more workmanships than their male equivalent. Also, the increase competition between brands in the female category justifies manufacturers increasing the price on female items; due to the high cost associated with marketing to women. In the digital era that we live today where consumers are experiencing content shock, marketers need to increase their efforts to stand out in a pool of brand pictures and names. However, this leaves the female consumer paying for the industries’ extra marketing efforts. Women are spending a significant amount for personal care needs and services just because marketers want to capitalize on gender based products.

While is true that companies have seen major avenues to target female consumers, this should not be synonymous with higher prices on basic female care products.  Congresswoman Jackie Speier has aimed to put an end to gender product pricing.Speier introduced the Pink Tax Repeal Act—a bill that prohibits companies from charging different prices for similar products or services simply based on gender. Women have also taken their opinion to social media calling for an end to the gender price gap under the hashtags #pinktax, #genderpricing, and #gendertax. A step needed since not all female consumers are aware of the so called pink tax. Also, under this campaign conscious buyers have vowed to not  purchase female care products that have a male alternative.

Marketing towards the female consumer represents several challenges for today’s marketers. Since competition in the fashion and beauty industry is fierce, company’s need to increase their marketing efforts in order to make an impact on their consumers. However, through this process, the female consumer’s wallet has been negatively impacted by the introduction of higher prices in basic care products and services.

In sum, both women and men want the same result out of most personal care products. They both want shampoo that keeps their hair conditioned and razor that offers a close shave. Lifting the gender binary on these products and simply selling the products based on product results could add a sense of neutrality in price. The reduction of the Pink Tax relies on understanding where in the supply chain is the pink tax being incurred and how can it be reduced. The introduction of new marketing strategies is also imperative, in order to diminish the cost associated with marketing towards women.

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