US consumers frustrated as media reports claim 'pink tax' is real

By Michelle Yeomans contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetics, Shaving, Gender

US consumers frustrated as media reports claim 'pink tax' is real
US female consumers expressed their frustrations last week following reports that the same toiletries marketed at men and women - such as deodorant, are more expensive for women. Cosmetics Design looks into the matter..

The so-called 'hidden tax' made headlines last week when US broadcaster KWG.com carried out a pricing comparison on similar grooming products from Target, Walgreens and Fred Meyer stores in Atlanta.

The findings of which included Target's own brand of disposable razors at $5.39 for the pink and $4.99 for the blue, despite the packs containing the same type and amount of razors.

According to KWG.com, there was an even bigger price discrepancy with several of the deodorants, like with a 'Degree' twin-pack, which was priced at $7.39 for women while the male version of the same size and formulation came in at $3.99.

In 2010, Consumer Reports carried out a study based on 'pink tax', where manufacturers revealed some women's products cost more to make, used different formulas or that prices were being raised by retailers in exchange for a desirable eye-level spot on the shelf.

However, California became the first US state to ban 'gender pricing' back in 1996, after finding women paid an extra $1,351 per year on average than men for products like shaving cream, razors and deodrants.

L'Oreal - pink tax 'doesn't exist'

Pink Tax

When asked about the French government's inquiry into 'pink tax' last November, L'Oreal CEO Jean-Paul Agon stated that the major cosmetics player was "not at all aware of a pink tax​", and that it was a notion that "makes no sense​" to him.

"I get the impression we are again making up something that doesn't exist​", he told reporters at the time.

France's finance ministry launched an investigation into gender pricing in 2014 after a petition by 'Georgette Sang' gained more than 30,000 signatures.

The group had singled out French retail giant Monoprix, which charged women an extra eight cents for a packet of it own brand standard razors, and got half as many razors as men.

At the time, Monoprix claimed that "the larger sale, in volume, of men's razors allows for a lower retail price​".

Why women may be inclined to pay more than men...

Tom Vierhile, innovation director at Datamonitor Consumer told CosmeticsDesign.com USA that women may be more inclined to pay more than men as their research suggests that women are simply more appearance conscious than men.

On a global scale, the firm found that 23% of women say image is “very important” versus just 16% for men. Collectively, he says that 64% of women surveyed indicated that their looks and appearance were either “important” or “very important.”

"Society generally places more emphasis on looks for women than it does for men, and these survey results reflect that,​" Vierhile told this publication.

"These figures don’t necessarily prove the existence of a so-called “pink tax,” but they do suggest that women may be more inclined to pay more attention and possibly pay more money for personal care products that help them maintain or improve their appearance​," he concluded.

Related topics: Market Trends, Packaging, Skin Care

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