I remember going to a toy shop to buy a bicycle with my father, as a ten year old. Well, let me re-iterate, it was a bicycle I was looking for. Not a doll or a toy gun, which are more often than not slotted according to the gender of the kid, rather than their inclination. I was enthusiastically directed towards the section for ‘Girls’ Bicycles’, where the cycles were painted brighter, with generous doses of pink, and of course,
priced higher. I boasted to my friends the next day that I have got a new bicycle, meant specially for girls.
It’s a different thing that I never really learnt to ride it properly, but what I did learn was that those cycles
at the boys’ section were exactly the same as the ones in the girls’. And that right there was my first tryst with the ‘Pink Tax’.
Pink tax, very simply, is the gender-based price discrimination of consumer goods.
For example, Razors.
For everyone, razors serve the same purpose, yet, ‘female’ razors are almost always priced way higher
than ‘male’ razors. And I am talking of these two variants being from the same brand, with the same design and packaging.
Am I asserting that no genre of products need to be differentiated on the gender of the end user? NO.
What I am saying is that NOT ALL products need such a differentiation. For example, a non-tinted lip
balm, or a sunscreen, or a cap, a bandana, a pair of socks.
So am I suggesting that women should switch over to using clothes/products meant for men to avoid being taxed for their gender? Nope, absolutely not!
What I am also suggesting is that consumers, irrespective of their gender, should become more aware of what the product that they are paying for, really is, and then analyze if a segregation of that particular
product based on gender is at all logical or not. In the long run, this awareness of the consumers is what
will deter the sellers from levying the pink tax, hopefully. And in the short run, both genders can pick up
the essentially same products for a much better price. So win-win, yay!
I believe that no Company strategizes – ‘Let us torment females and charge them higher because we can
do whatever we want’. Well, on second thoughts I may be wrong on this and there can be few companies
who do think that. But I am sure most companies do not. What they do think is probably – ‘Let us make a
version of the same thing and price it higher for a market which will not analyze the product and figure
out that it is not different from the cheaper version, and therefore buy it at a premium.’
And I won’t blame sellers for doing that. They ultimate goal of a business is to make profits. It is not their
moral duty to educate consumers who are, many a times, just plain stupid. Also, it takes a commendable
amount of marketing acumen to actualize the strategy of levying the ‘pink tax’, so kudos to them for that.
So do I not buy products meant for women? Of course, I do. I do not compromise on the functionality of
any product. If I like a t-shirt in the female section, I will take it. However, if I see a pair of oxford shoes
or flip-flops in the men’s section priced lower than the ones in the women’s section, I will pick it up from
the men’s section.
So is there a ‘BLUE TAX’?
There are in fact products which are marketed targetting men, priced way higher than the female version
of the same. The brightest example of this are the newly mushroomed beard grooming products. Now lets
think logically. How different is the hair on your face from the hair on your head? Well, hardly.
But playing on how proud and protective bearded men are about their facial bloom, and with the rising
fad of the same in world fashion, many companies are re-branding regular hair oils, serums and even
combs. These products are being put in black/brown/grey bottles and boxes, and being priced few notches higher than regular hair stuff. And these products are flying off the shelves, as using a hair comb to double up as a beard comb is blasphemous😆!
I have worn my father’s office shirts to college ample times. With their sleeves rolled up, they work
perfectly as the oversized, oh-so-cool shirts over the bright leggings. I also pick up socks, tees and slippers from the men’s section quite often and don’t mind stealing sunglasses from male friends. And me and my sister both agree that ‘photuas’ are summer must-haves. So yes, I find the idea of gender-fluid clothing to be really cool! With so much hullabaloo about the ‘pink tax’ around the globe these days,
gender-fluid style is definitely something to be explored and be excited about.