Nothing — Not Even Toys — Can Avoid the ‘Pink Tax’

Photo (cc) by donnierayjones

You’re probably familiar with the “pink tax,” also known as the “woman tax” or “tampon tax.” It’s used to describe how women — who already earn less than their male counterparts for doing the same work — also are forced to pony up more money than men for comparable products and services.

It turns out nothing — not even children’s toys and clothes — can escape the ludicrous pink tax, Fortune reports. If you are a parent or someone who buys things for children, it’s likely that this comes as no surprise to you. I am constantly fuming at the gender pricing disparity I see when I’m out shopping for my two young children (a boy and girl).

Boomerang Commerce recently analyzed the price points of 50 popular kids products, including toys, clothing and electronics, at six major web retailers — including Target, Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, JCPenney and Bloomingdales.

Each item Boomerang analyzed was offered in a variety of colors — including pink — and in every single instance, the pink-colored item was the most expensive.

“It seems there’s definitely some sort of a premium that is being put on the pink products,” Boomerang CEO Guru Hariharan told Fortune. “It could be a pretty big difference.”

Depending on the retailer, Boomerang said the average differential for pink items compared with non-pink items was 2 percent to a whopping 15 percent.

Some of the biggest pricing disparities occurred among children’s toys. For example, a pink Fisher-Price tricycle was listed on Amazon for $58 while an identical non-pink trike had a price tag of $43. On Target.com, a pink kids beginner bike was priced at $80, next to a non-pink version of the same bike, which was listed at $64.

Fortune said it appears that the retailers are to blame for hiking up the prices on pink items:

So, what’s going on here? Hariharan’s theory is that the price differential comes down to demand. It’s possible that pink items are priced higher because there are few options for people who really want pink products, allowing retailers to charge a premium. However, if demand were actually that strong, economics 101 suggests that supply would increase and prices would drop.

The more likely explanation is that there’s relatively little demand for pink products, says Hariharan. If a retailer sells pink bikes and red bikes, and the red ones fly off the shelves five times faster, each pink bike has to bear a higher amount of overhead cost—an expense that’s passed on to the consumer.

We told you about the high cost of being female here and cited a recent study from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, which found that the prices of girls toys ring in at 11 percent more, on average, than toys for boys.

It’s a trend that continues as girls get older. The study found that women typically pay 7 percent more on average than men to purchase similar products, such as disposable razors or shampoo.

“Over the course of a woman’s life, the financial impact of these gender-based pricing disparities is significant,” the study said.

Check out “More Stores Moving Toward ‘Genderless’ Shopping.”

What do you think of the pink tax? Do you notice it when you’re shopping? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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