A rather controversial market study was published by American scientists less than a decade ago. Although the introduction of this article may seem a bit humorous, it has a greater predisposition to come across as truth than the aforementioned jokes about American scientists.
The price ranges of personalized goods for specific genders were taken under the magnifying glass. It was hypothesized that products designed for female consumers deviate in price from their male counterparts. Among the assumptions focused on goods with the same properties are those of purpose and, most importantly, quality.
As an example, the most ordinary disposable razor, which meets the conceptual assumptions of the study and at the same time has a different and gender-specific appearance (color). Precisely for this reason, after proving the (hypo)thesis, the phenomenon studied was called the “pink tax”.
What were the results of the study?
On average, products targeting a female audience had a price that was about 7% higher than goods in the comparison group. Nevertheless, this is still an average—other discrepancies were observed for hygiene products (13%), clothing (8%), or toys (4%).
How do these figures relate to the realities of Poland?
For private research, I took the liberty of looking at several drugstore websites and online stores, comparing the prices of typically male and female products. The results of my research can be viewed below.
At first glance, focusing on average prices, one can see that, indeed, the Pink Tax phenomenon could occur in Poland. Admittedly, its scale is sometimes grossly larger, as the calculated deviations are within the range of 13-30%, and not as it was originally (7%). It goes without saying that the conditions of an individual analyst will differ significantly from the results of studies of wealthy corporations. However, the posting of my results is intended as some consumer symbolism. The selection of everyday products such as shower gel, deodorant, and shaving foam by their weight is not a key consumer choice. For this reason, I equate my research perspective with that of the non-consumer buyer, that is, you, who have a decidedly limited field in terms of reviewing the market. In economics, the process of familiarizing yourself with market prices is a transaction cost; what matters here is your time. Depending on how much you value your time, the results of an identical study could just as well look like this:
Changing your point of view from average prices to minimum amounts carries completely different conclusions. As you can see, most women’s products could match in price or even be less than their male counterparts. This would absolutely negate the existence of a “pink tax”!
I don’t want to dwell here on the (questionable) quality of minimum-priced goods or get hooked on consumer tastes. Rather, the main idea was to present a slightly different perspective that shows how much this topic is seen in our subjectivity. The quintessential part of price comparability is the aforementioned transaction costs, that is, the time you are able to spend researching the market. Depending on how large a percentage of transaction costs are in your case, you are more or less able to minimize the discriminatory stigma of differentiation.