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Top Tips To Avoid The Pink Tax

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On the JJ Barnes Blog, I check out what the “pink tax” is, how it impacts women’s finances, and top tips for how to avoid the pink tax!

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Pink Tax

Ugh, the Pink Tax. That infuriating phenomenon where seemingly identical products cost more simply because they’re adorned with florals and marketed to women. This price discrepancy can range from a few percentage points to over 70% in some cases.

Several factors contribute to the pink tax:

  • Targeted marketing: Companies leverage the perception that women are willing to pay more for products marketed as “higher quality” or “specially formulated” for their needs. This perception, fueled by advertising and branding, can inflate prices.
  • Ingredient hype: Some women’s products may contain specialized ingredients, like anti-aging or sensitive skin formulas, which can increase the cost compared to basic men’s products.
  • Packaging paradox: Feminine aesthetics like floral designs, pastel colors, and fancy packaging can be associated with a higher price tag compared to the more utilitarian packaging often used for men’s products.

The pink tax is not just a financial burden for women; it also raises concerns about equality and fairness. It implies that women’s needs are somehow more “expensive” or that their purchasing power is less vulnerable to price hikes. This reinforces harmful stereotypes and perpetuates a system where women pay a premium simply for being women.

Bathroom Products

Women’s personal care products often cost significantly more than their male counterparts, despite seemingly offering the same functionality. A recent study found that women’s toiletries can cost up to 76% more than men’s, a discrepancy that raises eyebrows and pocketbook anxieties, and means that taking a shower and staying clean is more expensive for women!

During a cost of living crisis, and where women are more likely to be raising a family on a single income, this added financial pressure just for the privilege of hygiene is awful. But I know we can avoid it! By raising awareness, making informed choices, and advocating for fair pricing, we can push back against the pink tax and work towards a more equitable marketplace for all.

With this in mind, industry experts at Showers to You sought to uncover the extent of the impact the ‘Pink Tax’ has on bathroom products. To do so, the recommended retail prices of a variety of everyday toiletries per 100ml for men and women were analysed.

Key findings: 

  • Women’s toiletries are over three quarters more expensive on average than products marketed towards men (76%) 
  • Shampoo and conditioner for women are almost twice (96%) as expensive
  • Hair styling products cost nearly £1 more per 100ml for women compared to men 
  • Womens face creams are 82% more expensive on average per 100ml 

Average price of toiletries per 100ml 

Product type Men’s average price per 100mlWomen’s average price per 100ml Average price increase per 100ml (%)
Shampoo and conditioner £2.60£5.1196%
Hair styling £6.13£7.0916%
Face cream £53.88£97.98 82%

Showers to You uncovered a significant price disparity between women’s and men’s shampoo and conditioners, with women’s products being almost double the price (96%) on average per 100ml.  Men’s shampoo and conditioner cost approximately £2.60 per 100ml, while women’s products average at a staggering £5.11 per 100ml. 

Despite efforts by some brands to avoid the ‘Pink Tax’ on certain products, such as Toni & Guy, with their Damage Repair Shampoo for women and their Deep Clean Shampoo for men both retailing at £2.88 per 100ml—the overall prevalence of price increases associated with the ‘Pink Tax’ remains significant. 

Women’s hair styling products are, on average, £0.96 (16%) more expensive per 100ml compared to men’s equivalents. For example, TIGI Bed Head HeadrushTM and TIGI Bed Head Power Play products both promise shine, frizz control, a smooth feel and a professional quality. Despite these similar product outcomes, Power Play, marketed towards men, is priced at £3.98 per 100ml, while Headrush marketed for women costs £6 per 100ml. This represents a substantial 51% price increase for the women’s product.

When it comes to face creams, women’s options are 82% more expensive on average, per 100ml, compared to men’s face creams. In summary, women’s everyday bathroom products are over three quarters (76%) more expensive on average than the closest equivalent products for men.

While some discrepancies in pricing can be attributed to differences in ingredients, it is often merely a result of different marketing strategies. Therefore, being aware of the ‘pink tax’, shopping around for various brands, and opting for gender-neutral products instead of those specifically marketed towards women is important.

How To Avoid The Pink Tax

1. Ditch the Pink Aisles: Venture beyond the land of glitter and pastel hues. Compare prices of men’s and women’s versions of similar products. Often, the men’s version of razors, shaving cream, or even body wash could be the same product at a fraction of the price. Just grab some blue packaging and fight the stereotypes!

2. Embrace the Generic: Who needs fancy branding when you can have quality ingredients at a fraction of the cost? Generic brands often pack the same punch as their big-name counterparts, without the inflated price tag. Bonus points for avoiding all that unnecessary plastic packaging!

3. Befriend DIY: Whip up your own scrubs, hair masks, or even cleaning solutions. It’s surprisingly easy, budget-friendly, and allows you to personalize the ingredients to your needs. Plus, you’ll impress your friends with your newfound herbalist skills.

4. Think Outside the Box: Skip the overpriced razors and consider reusable options like safety razors or epilators, or learn about the No-Poo Method. Invest in a high-quality menstrual cup, or explore natural alternatives like cloth pads. Your wallet and the planet will thank you.

5. Share the Knowledge: Spread the word about the Pink Tax! Educate your friends, family, and fellow shoppers. Collective awareness is key to putting pressure on companies to adopt fair pricing practices.

6. Support Neutral Brands: Seek out companies that actively dismantle the Pink Tax and offer equally priced products for everyone. Your purchasing power speaks volumes, so use it to support those who stand for equality.

7. Get Vocal: If you see blatant pricing disparities, don’t be afraid to speak up! Contact companies directly and express your concerns. Sharing your experiences on social media can also spark important conversations and create positive change.

The ‘Pink Tax’, where women pay more for toiletries than men, isn’t just about cost. It reflects broader problems like gender inequality and the need for consumer empowerment. Companies should adopt transparent pricing practices and clearly communicate the reasons behind pricing disparities to consumers. 

This transparency fosters trust and allows consumers to make informed decisions, encouraging brands to justify their pricing models and strive for gender-neutral product pricing. It is crucial that products are priced based on their actual value rather than inflated costs due to gender-specific marketing. 

On the consumer side, shoppers can take proactive steps to avoid falling prey to the pink tax. One effective strategy is to opt for gender-neutral or toiletries marketed towards men that often feature similar formulations but come with a more reasonable price tag. 

For example, using men’s razors or shower gel can be a practical and cost-effective alternative, as many of these products have been found to deliver comparable performance without the unnecessary markup associated with versions marketed towards women.

-Martin Smith, the founder of Showers to You
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