Editor’s Note: This is the Pro argument in The Index’s Pro-Con debate on Pink Tax. To read the Con, click here.
If you are a woman, it is common knowledge that men’s razors are cheaper than women’s razors. Countless YouTube videos tout that women should buy men’s razors because of the price difference. While many of these videos highlight the difference in prices between the items, they usually do not lend to the idea of Pink Tax, which is how many see this financial discrepancy.
Pink Tax is the idea that women’s products cost more than men’s products, and that this is a discrimination against women. However, this is a very surface level explanation for the price differences between gendered products. Women’s products and men’s products differ as a result of audience and production costs and may be more closely related to economics rather than discrimination.
Envisioning a personal care aisle is the best way to understand why there are price differences in men’s and women’s products. Generally, most of the hair and body care aisles have majority women’s products and hair care brands sitting on the shelves. There is an array of shampoos, conditioners, and body washes, but the important part is another array of different sets of these products based on the buyer’s needs.
Since women make up more than 85% of consumer purchases and influence over 95% of total goods and services purchased, brands create more differentiated products for them to choose from, knowing that they are the main consumer for personal care items.
For hair care, in particular, brands curate products for frizzy, oily, damaged or dry hair and many other needs. Research has been done to demonstrate how women are more likely to pay more to buy an exact product that addresses an exact need that they are looking for, and brands supply this demand with these curated products. This is where the money aspect comes in. These extra varied products cost money to research and formulate, and graphic designers and marketers are then needed to make the product a reality that is added to the array of products on your local Walgreens’ shelves. This all results in more people to pay, and this increase in price is translated to the consumer.
Compared to the men’s aisle, different brands that offer products, such as Dove Men, Aveeno, and Nivea, have less of a selection. This means that brands are spending more money on their female products than their male products and end up charging more money to their female consumers to keep up with their profit margin.
Lastly, I would like to note that not all products are priced up for women. Nike shoes, for example, are more expensive for men, rather than women, when comparing the exact same style shoe on their website. L’Oréal anti-dandruff shampoo is also more expensive for men, and multiple large deodorant brands such as Degree and Nivea price their products the same according to Walmart.com. On top of that, there are many gendered deodorant and personal care brands that only market towards men or women and therefore cannot be compared. These are brands such as Old Spice, Secret, and Axe. These brands prices vary and tend to compete more with one another, straying away from gender.
As men’s skincare and personalized products start to gain more popularity the economic side of the “Pink Tax” might become less prevalent, meaning the price difference could even out as production costs equalize. All in all, the idea of Pink Tax cannot only be attributed to sexism. There are so many aspects of retail that impact a product and its price and cannot be outlined in a short newspaper article. Until then, we cannot jump to the conclusion that women are being discriminated against.