If you think you are paying more for products and services made for women* like razors, shampoo, haircuts, dry cleaning, hygiene products, and more, you aren’t wrong! The “pink tax” is alive and well; historically high inflation rates and supply chain issues are making it even worse! Learn more about how inflation impacts the pink tax and three ways you can pay less.
DID YOU KNOW? Women pay more than men for similar products? This is because of something called the "pink tax." With annual inflation rates exceeding 9% in 2022, women are disproportionately affected by rising prices that compound the impact of the “pink tax.”
What Is the Pink Tax?
The pink tax refers to the gender-specific pricing of products and services that are marketed to and used by women. Brands will use colored packaging, often pink, purple, or pastel-colored, to show that products are made for a particular gender.
The tactic affects items such as shaving cream, razors, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion even though men use identical products.
For example, a study by The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that a pack of women’s razors would cost an average of $8.90, while the men’s would only cost $7.99. Women paid 11% more! The study also found that other products typically bought by women for girls or families are also more expensive including clothes, toys, and home care goods.
Across all products, women pay 7 percent more on average. The pricing disparity amounts to women paying $1,351 more every year for the same products as men.
Inflation Exacerbates The Effects of the Pink Tax
Inflation occurs when the purchasing power of your currency decreases due to a rise in the cost of goods and services. It can happen for a variety of reasons that are often a combination of these four scenarios:
- Increase in the money supply
- Supply chain disruptions
- An increase in unemployment
- Changes in government policy
Since 2020 The United States has experienced a combination of all four of these common triggers. Manufacturers of period goods are passing on higher costs for logistics and key components.
- Prices for plastic resins and materials climbed 9.5% in April from a year ago, according to the US government’s latest producer price index.
- Cotton futures surged 40% in the past year, and fluff pulp, an absorbent fiber derived from trees, jumped 25% in the 12 months through June 1, according to data by FastmarketsRCSI.
As a result consumers with already stretched wallets have seen a rise in basic hygiene supplies – a necessity they can’t forgo.
- Average prices rose 8.3% for a package of menstrual pads and 9.8% for tampons in the year through May 28, according to NielsenIQ.
- Personal-care goods, a broad category that includes period products and items such as shampoo and shaving equipment, saw their biggest annual price jump since August 2012, according to April figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as quoted in Bloomberg.
Unlike with shampoo or razors, though, people with monthly periods can’t easily cut back on consumption or wait for prices to decline. Likewise, the cost of period goods isn’t covered by federal assistance programs, nor are they exempt from most state taxes.
3 Ways to Fight Inflation and The Pink Tax
- Use Sustainable and Reusable Alternatives
- Buy Gender-neutral or Men’s Products
- Comparison and Buy Online
Use Sustainable and Reusable Alternatives
By switching to sustainable products, you can save money in the long run while also doing your part to help the environment. For example, reusable pads and menstrual cups are made from sustainable materials like cotton and silicone and can be used over and over again.
Buy Gender-neutral or Men’s Products
One of the most effective ways to avoid the pink tax is to purchase gender-neutral or men’s products. These products are often identical to their female-branded counterparts but can be significantly cheaper.
Comparison and Buy Online
Comparison shopping can help you find the best deals on products, and subscription services can offer discounts for bulk purchases. You can counteract the pink tax and stretch your budget further by taking a few minutes to find the best deal on the products you need.
*Where the term ‘women’ is used throughout this article, it refers to anyone who uses these products regardless of gender identity.