PINK Tax: Unveiling the Unfair Price

“Girls love shopping” is a statement you hear thrown around a lot. While the comment undermines a whole gender and pigeonholes them as shopaholics throwing money at everything and nothing, businesses have been cashing in on this phenomenon for many decades. 

Imagine reaching for an everyday product and discovering that the same product in a different colour costs less because it is advertised for men. This is the reality faced by women worldwide, and Indian women are no exception. This biased tax is named the PINK Tax, signifying the unfair taxation levied on women. 

So what is this phenomenon and how does it affect your daily life? Let’s find out!

What is PINK TAX?

The PINK Tax is an informal term used to describe the price disparity between products aimed at different genders.

When a company sells a pink product (female version), it is priced slightly higher than a blue product (male version) even though they are made of the same components and function very similarly. 

This additional price is termed the PINK Tax. The business pockets this additional revenue from selling the female version of the product. The government does not benefit from the PINK tax.

This phenomenon has been around for decades, widespread across the world, with analysts noticing it only in the 1990s. 

**The PINK tax is different from the tampon tax, which refers to the additional tax levied on feminine hygiene products**

The PINK Tax in India: A Closer Look at the Discriminatory Price Tag

We have all felt the frustration of buying overpriced pink versions, cursing the gods, existent and non-existent for burdening us with that extra few rupees. While it may seem nothing at the moment, the culmination of those few rupees adds to hundreds and over time thousands of rupees we could have saved had we been born as a man. 

The cherry on top, however, is that the Pink Tax isn’t an official tax levied by the government. It’s just good old corporate greed. 

The difference in prices starts at the basics and often manifests in various sectors, including:

  • Personal Care Products: From razors and deodorants to shampoos and body washes, women’s versions are frequently overpriced. (No wonder our expensive skincare routines stress us out!)
  • Clothes: Basic women’s clothing items like T-shirts, shirts, jeans, etc. cost significantly more than their male equivalents of comparable quality and materials. 
  • Salon Services: Salon services are where the difference in prices is strikingly evident. A simple haircut of the fairer sex costs Rs. 800 and above while men’s salon services are priced much less. Haircuts, waxing, and other salon services often come with a steeper price tag for women, despite the procedures often being awfully similar for both genders. 
  • Children’s Products: Unfortunately, the price disparity begins at a very young age, with toys aimed at girls often carrying much higher prices. The pink aisle is not only stereotypical but also price-biased, enforcing the idea that girls’ interests come at a price.

Reasons Behind the PINK Tax

Several factors contribute to the existence of the PINK Tax in India and everywhere. Here are a few. 

  • Gender-Based Marketing: Targeted marketing strategies by companies frequently sell non-essential products to women under the guise of “a must-have necessity” when a readily available generic product works the same or sometimes, better. More often than not, the only distinction between the generic product and the overpriced one is the colour and packaging to create an illusion of exclusivity.
  • The Way of the Society: We are all no strangers to the traditional societal norms that often classify women as impulsive buyers and shopaholics who are willing to pay premium prices for irrelevant products. Companies often leverage this jaded perception and targeted marketing to inflate prices on the “female-targeted” versions. 
  • Lack of Awareness: The PINK Tax has been around for a longer time than it was known for. 

The Indian government viewed feminine hygiene products as luxury items and subjected them to 12% GST while male contraceptives were termed necessary and exempted from tax. This injustice created an uproar and highlighted the existent price disparity.

While the GST was waived off after persistent efforts from the activists, the PINK Tax remained untouched. Companies continue to exploit this lack of awareness for their own profits.

The Impact of the PINK Tax

As mentioned above, the PINK Tax isn’t just a matter of a few rupees. It is individual price differences accumulated over time that create a significant financial burden, contributing to the already existing gender pay gap. This in turn further hinders our progress, and financial independence and puts a pretty pink dent in our fight for basic equality.

How to Combat the PINK Tax?

While efforts have begun and few countries have actively banned the PINK Tax, it may be a while before the whole world catches up. That doesn’t mean you can’t play an active role in undermining these biased corporate practices. 

So pick up your pink clutch, hold on to your debit cards & credit cards, and save more by paying the right price following these techniques!

  • Marie Condo every unnecessary product off your shopping list. We know some of them are there for the aesthetics. 
  • Find a homemade alternative to your skin care products if possible. Not only are they gentle on your skin but also a lot less expensive.
  • Compare prices for different variations of the same product, even if they have different colours or packaging aimed at different genders. 
  • Go for gender-neutral or male-marketed versions whenever possible.
  • Raid the men’s section for basic garments like t-shirts, shorts, and more that you wear casually at home since they are cheaper and of higher quality. (They fit better too!)
  • Several home-grown and local brands are inclusive and prioritize quality over discrimination. Identify and support such brands. 
  • Most importantly, educate everyone around you to raise awareness, so we can start collectively demanding change. 

In Conclusion,

All we desire this women’s day is a fairer marketplace (and world) where we are not charged extra for being born a woman. The Pink Tax is discriminatory, and disrespectful and portrays a harmful narrative. Becoming informed consumers, supporting ethical businesses, and fighting gender-based discrimination in our own way is how we can make PINK Tax a thing of the past. When all is said and done, opposing the PINK Tax isn’t just about saving a few thousand rupees, it’s about taking a stand against unfair practices and unjust treatment.