Image: pink razor. Image source.
The Pink Tax has been around for time immemorial and is something we’re all subject to. A sexist markup on everything from clothing to basic necessities like toiletries, it sees women pay a much higher premium for almost the exact same products as men. Case in point: the humble razor. According to BBC, campaigners last year pointed out that major British supermarket chain Tesco was charging twice as much for a packet of women’s razors, compared with those for men. Singled out in a 2016 investigation by The Times, Tesco has now been forced to take definitive action. Announcing this week that the company has “aligned the prices of these products so that the male and female razors are the same price per unit.”
That same investigation by The Times found that products aimed at women and girls cost, on average, 37% more than almost identical products for men. And it wasn’t just Tesco’s razors at fault here, either. With other brands also named in the inquiry, including Levi’s, Amazon and Boots — which has since cut the prices of some of its women’s products following an online campaign.
After British Labour backbencher Paula Sherriff put pressure on Tesco to stop charging more for women’s products, though, the company tried to justify the disparity on the concept of bulk. “Male razors are produced and sold in significantly higher volumes, which reduces the price we pay for them,” the company said in a letter to Ms Sherriff. “However, following an internal review and discussions with our suppliers, we have acted on concerns about the difference in price of our female and male disposable twin-blade razors”.
Which is just as well, considering Tesco was selling its pink disposable twin-blade razors for 20 pence (35 cents), while the blue men’s product was only 10 pence (17 cents). And that’s a fairly significant difference, considering both products were reportedly identical except for the colour. This is a positive stride forward in terms of putting an end to the pink tax then, just given the sheer size and influence of a company like Tesco.
So, naturally, consumer experts have now begun urging Australian companies to follow suit. It could be a while before we see a total end to this sort of sexist price discrepancy, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. And as MP Paula Sherriff has tweeted, campaigners are now onto the big brands and are committed to “chipping away at gender pricing bit by bit”.
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