KANSAS CITY, MO, (KCTV) -- The “Pink Tax” is the concept of gender-based pricing, costing women a lot more than men on the same products.
In the 2015 study From Cradle to Crane, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs determined it is much more common than many realize.
The study reviewed prices for 800 products across all industries and determined, on average, women pay about 7 percent more that men for the same product, purely based on gender.
Those findings of that study also include the following:
Of the 35 categories analyzed, women's products cost more 42 percent of the time, compared to men’s products that were more expensive only 18 percent of the time. The biggest gap showed in personal care products, on average costing women 13 percent more than men.
A 1993 study by the State of California found gender-based pricing cost women more than $1,300 extra each year, spurring the state legislature to pass a ban, making California the first state to make gender discrimination in pricing illegal.
Michael Cone is a trade attorney in New York City who also is the founder of the website www.Pink.Tax.
“What I’m trying to do with Pink.Tax is raise awareness,” Cone told KCTV5. “Gender based pricing, that is pricing for no other reason than gender, should not be allowed.”
Cone says he first discovered gender-based pricing on a massive level while he was working on a project for a footwear retailer. On his website, Cone writes:
When I saw that leather shoes and sneakers imported for women and girls are hit with a 10% import tax (technically called ‘customs duties’), yet the same kinds of shoes imported for men and boys are hit with only 8.5% import tax, I recognized it was wrong. Especially since virtually all of the billions of dollars worth of shoes sold annually in the U.S. are imported -- which translates into over $50 million in discriminatory import taxes collected by Uncle Sam year after year on shoes imported for women and girls, including athletic sneakers.
“Most of the customs duties that are imposed by the federal government are causing gender-based pricing and gender based cost. How can we blame the retailers if those prices wind up being different?” Cone said.
The State of California, New York City and Miami-Dade County, FL, have all implemented types of legislation to ban or cut down on gender-based pricing.
Cone is pushing for federal legislation to stop the practice. He says the current legislation introduced by California Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, is a step in the right direction, but may be too broad to have a chance.
Cone believes legislation may only be possible if it pertains to gender-based pricing for services, including hair cuts and dry-cleaning but not specific product pricing.
The bill most recently was sent to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on April, 10 2018, but there has been no action since.
Democratic Congressman Billy Long, who represent Missouri’s 7th District, sits on that committee https://long.house.gov/.
New companies have recognized the demand for pink-tax-free products, including razors.
In the United States, the company Boxed has a mission that includes women don't pay more for products like razors, body wash and deodorant. The company also promises to take the hit for customers when it comes to what’s been referred to as the luxury tax on tampons.
The gender discrimination pricing problem affects big ticket items too, including car insurance rates, according to the Consumer Federation of America.
Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study, arguing, the evidence of the “Pink Tax” being a real thing is far from solid, writing:
Of 10 personal care product categories (e.g., deodorants and shaving products) that GAO analyzed, average retail prices paid were significantly higher for women’s products than for men’s in 5 categories…
Studies GAO reviewed found limited evidence of gender price differences for four products or services not differentiated by gender—mortgages, small business credit, auto purchases, and auto repairs. For example, with regard to mortgages, women as a group paid higher average mortgage rates than men, in part due to weaker credit characteristics, such as lower average income.
KCTV5 contacted the retail stores included in this report. In a statement, CVS explained the prices it charges in stores are partially set by costs from suppliers.
"CVS Pharmacy makes every effort to ensure the products we sell are priced competitively in the marketplace. Retail prices for products are based in part on the supplier’s costs."
Competitor Walgreens also told KCTV5 that supplier costs and the suggested retail prices from manufactures are considered when they set prices in stores.
“Prices charged in our stores are based in large part on the costs charged to us by our suppliers and on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. We suggest you contact the manufacturer for information about their MSRP.”