Rethinking the Pink Tax
Marketing and merchandising aimed at women is commanding a closer, critical look.
Earlier this year, PepsiCo’s CEO caught social media flak for seeming to suggest in a radio interview that the company was engineering low-crunch chips for women too dainty to munch with gusto.
PepsiCo quickly clarified that Lady Doritos are not actually on the horizon — but products targeted at women will likely be part of its merchandise mix. The challenge for today’s consumer goods companies: Tailor products for women and girls without condescension and without charging more than for comparable products aimed at men and boys. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that women pay an average of 7 percent more than men for gender-specific personal-care items, toys and clothing.
Calling out — and shutting down — this “pink tax” is integral to marketing strategies at a number of young companies.
- Billie makes “razors built for womankind” that are delivered to your door, and at four blade cartridges for $9, they’re priced the same as men’s cartridges from Dollar Shave Club (unlike women’s razors at traditional retailers, which typically cost 12–15 percent more than men’s). Billie offers customers a referral link coupon dubbed the “Pink Tax Rebate” and donates 1 percent of revenues to women’s causes.
- Boxed, an online wholesale retailer, got rid of gender-based price discrepancies by lowering prices on women’s personal-care items and on feminine-hygiene products (subject to a luxury tax in many states). It’s encouraging other companies to do the same and spread the word with the #RethinkPink hashtag.
- Rinse is an app-based laundry pickup and return service that charges $2.50 per standard button-up shirt whether it’s a man’s or woman’s. A 2016 undercover report by CBS News found one dry cleaner charging $7.50 for a plain women’s Oxford, while a man was charged $2.85 for a similar shirt.
- Cards Against Humanity took a satirical approach by creating a “For Her” version of its super-hot (and incredibly family-unfriendly) card game. The only difference is that it’s packaged in a pink box … and costs $5 more than the original.
PHOTO ABOVE: Mobile shopping at Boxed