There’s A Price Discrepancy For Products Marketed To Women

Bad news for last minute Christmas shoppers! It’s been confirmed in a study that there is a price discrepancy when it comes to women paying more for essentially the same products as men, according to Consumer Affairs.

The study conducted by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) found that if a product is designed for a woman, the price will be higher and women tend to pay substantially more on average than men.

This study examined prices on toys, accessories, health, and beauty care products, as well as children’s and adult clothing; this was meant to reflect the average consumer’s life-cycle from childhood to old age. Overall, products designed for women cost almost 7 percent more than similar products for men.

Target made headlines recently regarding price discrepancy. Radio Flyer scooters were being sold on Target’s website, with the red scooter for boys being retailed at $24.99, while the pink scooter for girls was retailed at $49.99, according to the Washington Post. Target was quick to lower the price last Friday after the findings came out. They blamed the discrepancy on a “system error.”

Scooters weren’t the other toys to have differences in price. The Playmobil pirate ship costs only $24.99, while the Playmobil fairy queen ship costs $37.99. However, a Target spokesperson told the Washington Post that the difference in price could have more to do with production costs.

The DCA found that the largest price discrepancy was on personal care items. Consumer Affairs describes this as the “pink tax.” On average, hair care products, razors, and adult clothes aimed at women will cost 15 percent more. Dr. Gary Kelm, a specialist in product formulation at Procter & Gamble, said that women will pay more for a product with ingredients like natural extracts. However, these ingredients often comprise less than 1 percent of the product. The study confirmed this further by saying that the ingredients don’t give the consumer any real benefit.

A report by CBS News revealed that there isn’t a federal or state law to regulate this price discrepancy, despite the most recent findings.

“In New York City, Miami-Dade County as well as in California, there are some differences around the pricing of services,” said Jill Schlesinger, a business analyst for CBS News. “You can’t differentiate around services ; products you can. And that’s a huge difference.”

Julie Menin, the DCA Commissioner who started the investigation this summer, said that the point of the study was to make consumers aware of the issues, but also “to publicly shame companies with glaring disparities.”

Hillary E. Crawford, a writer for the website Bustle, described the new study as “scary” and urges women to write to Congress and if they notice a price discrepancy to report it on social media.

“Price differences can be tricky to notice, especially when women are generally only looking at women’s products,” said Crawford. “Thus, raising awareness might prove to be one of our biggest weapons against pricing discrimination.”

This recent study doesn’t provide any new information for Michael Cone, a New York-based trade lawyer. According to Marie Claire, Cone was doing research for a client, who was a shoe manufacturer, regarding import tariffs in 2000, when he found a discrepancy. On a list of fees that the government imposes on shipped goods from other countries, he found that women’s sneakers were taxed at 10 percent while men’s sneakers were only taxed at 8.5 percent. Other garments for women are also being priced higher than ones for men, he discovered.

In 2012, Cone had planned to sue the government for discrimination and urged other clients to be co-plaintiffs. Many companies including Steve Madden and Urban Outfitters joined on, but others declined.

“I think one of the reasons is that they were worried it would draw more attention to gender pricing,” said Cone.

While this price disparity will continue, the DCA noted that one simple way woman can take action is by switching out of the women’s section entirely.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)