The “pink tax” isn’t a tax levied by the government. It’s the markup of goods and services charged to women versus men for comparable goods and services. On July 26, 2018, Burger King launched a campaign to highlight the pink tax by charging more for a pink box of fries than a regular box with the same amount of fries. This should prompt you to think about whether you’re using gender-neutral pricing.
Pink tax rates
How big is the problem? According to a study of gender pricing in New York City, women’s products on average cost 7% more than similar products for men. More specifically:
- 7% more for toys and accessories
- 4% more for children’s clothing
- 8% more for adult clothing (and women are charged more for plus-size clothing while men usually are not)
- 13% more for personal care products (e.g., razors)
- 8% more for senior/home health care products
The study also found that women’s products cost more 42% of the time while men’s products cost more 18% of the time.
Regulation of gender pricing
There’s no federal regulation on point. Nearly 25 years ago, California enacted a law barring gender pricing for services, such as dry cleaning, haircuts, and car repairs. There is no comparable law for goods.
A few states have ruled against gender-based pricing in bars and nightclubs (effectively ending the pink bonus for “lady’s night”). But Miami-Dade county in Florida permits “limited discount programs” based on gender, with certain conditions.
Best business practices
Now may be a good time to review your pricing polices and make sure they are gender neutral. For example, if you own a hair salon, you can charge different prices for a cutting based on hair length; this reflects the time the stylist needs to work on a customer. But if you own a dry cleaners, you probably should be charging the same for cleaning a men’s sports jacket as a woman’s blazer; despite the different terminology, they’re essentially the same.
Burger King has used an anti-pink tax stance as a marketing tool. You may want to follow suit.