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Blue vs. Pink: Who Pays More?

Blue vs. Pink: Who Pays More?

Gender-based marketing ensures that men and women pay different rates for the same item simply because of their sex

January 10, 2017: Men and women are different – that’s a given – and, while it’s an important distinction in certain parts of life, like healthcare, there’s not always a need to separate them in others. Gender-based marketing does exactly that though, ensuring that both men and women will pay more for the same item simply because of their sex.

Rough Deal

In the United States, a recent (2016) study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs discovered that women pay more than men 42% of the time when products like razors, children’s bikes, shampoo, and jeans are considered. Men had to fork out extra for the same product on only 18% of occasions (there was no difference in pricing in the remaining 40%).

However, a second study, this time by couponing website Couponbox, produced the opposite result, with men paying more than women for 60% of products. It’s important to note that the latter survey looked at a different range of products, inclusive of business clothing, shoes, manicure sets, and waxing kits.

Combined, the research suggests that both men and women get a rough deal as a consequence of gender-based marketing, with the biggest offenders by far in smart clothing (women pay an average of $65 for a suit while men pay almost three times that sum, at $186) and moisturizer ($34 for women and $8 for men). It’s arguably razors that epitomize the needlessness of gender-based marketing, however.

Razors have to be one of the least interesting items a person can buy but they’ve come to represent the disparity between the prices that women pay for goods and those paid by men. Identical blue and pink plastic razors are priced differently just because they’re marketed to different groups. At UK chain Boots, for example, pink cost $3.19 for eight razors until recently whereas blue was priced at $2.11 for ten. Women got fewer for more.

This difference in pricing is known as the pink and/or blue tax.

Yves Saint Laurent

The most remarkable thing about the two taxes is that there’s no real pattern around why they exist. For example, it could be argued that demand is the reason, as men pay more for stereotypically female purchases like manicure sets. However, men also pay more than women for male-centric products like hair regrowth treatments. If demand truly is the reason, it should be the other way around.

One of the few areas where gender-based marketing makes a little more sense is fashion. Yves Saint Laurent adds up to $1,000 to female products compared to their male equivalents, a hike it attributes to the additional workmanship that women’s clothes require before they can join the market.

Women pay more for ephemeral concepts like design. For example, ex-Tommy Hilfiger president Patricia Stensrud indicated that women place a higher value than men on a variety of sizes and cuts, extra materials, and a range of colors, all of which complicate the manufacturing process, driving up prices.


As a closing statement, here are just a few more ways gender-based marketing makes life a little more expensive for men and women, according to the Couponbox study above. Men pay 17% more for their deodorant, 55% more for smart shoes, and 6% extra for sports clothing like hooded sweatshirts. Women pay a premium on vitamins (19%), underwear (42%) and waxing kits, which can be as much as 47% more expensive than the male product.

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