I saw an ad on TV that was so odd I had to turn the sound on the next time it appeared, to hear what they were talking about (I usually mute the sound and turn my head away whenever a commercial comes on TV). I am still confused over this ad, because it appears to be sponsored by a for-profit company (a place doing feminine waxing) but it isn’t directly about their business. Instead it seems to be an issue-ad about something they call the “Pink Tax”. The complaint seems to be that many consumer products that are specifically marketed to women cost more than similar products targeting men, or that are generic. This includes things like deodorant and razors, or other things that may be even more gender specific, like clothing. The claim is that it is fundamentally unfair to charge different prices for things just because of the gender specificity on the label.
First-of-all, in a free-market economy any vendor has the right to set whatever price they want on their product, and the consumer can buy it – or not – as they choose. There is no coercion here. Dictating legal limits to product pricing is the essence of communism and anathema in a free society.
That aside, this claim about the “Pink Tax” doesn’t make me think; “Oh, the poor pitiful women”; rather it makes me think; “What dumbasses”. If you want to pay more for a product because of its “image”, go ahead. I do it all the time when I pick a name-brand over a generic in the grocery store, and that is the function of “Marketing”. I think that a good example of this is cars. There is no good functional reason why a BMW should cost at least twice what a Chevy does – it is mostly just the marketing that makes one appear more desirable and valuable than the other. If you want the “image” that BMW marketing projects, you pony-up the cash for it, and if you don’t, you don’t – but the price difference has very little to do with function. You (and I) are simply being manipulated by Marketing. The same is true with Pink Products. If it is important to you to have the pink box and the “pretty” fragrance and the flowers-and-lace and the image that this product’s marketing projects – go for it. If that marketing-BS is not important to you, then you just look at the price-tag and buy whatever is cheapest. The assertion that Blue Products are consistently less expensive than Pink Products simply suggests (empirically) that women tend to be less price-sensitive and more gender-obsessed than men are.
The TV ad that I saw about this was quite vague and it didn’t seem to be advocating a remedy for the perceived injustice of the “Pink Tax”. The only point of the commercial seemed to be to raise-awareness, and in this their own “marketing” was quite successful because I am now aware of something that I wasn’t before. A response to this situation was left open, however.
If the point of this effort is to call for a boycott of “Pink Products” with a “Buy Blue” campaign, then I would call this legitimate and I would support it. The most devastating answer to any marketing program is to ignore it and if sales of more expensive Pink Products started to plummet, things would change quickly. If a “Boycott Pink” movement got traction, then the results would probably be seen within a few months because advertising companies and marketing managers are extremely sensitive to public perception and image (that’s their business, after all).
If, on the other hand, there is a notion that there should be a legal remedy – such as making it illegal to charge different prices for similar products based on a marketing difference (be it gender-target or anything else), then this is absolutely wrong and cannot be tolerated in a free-market, democratic society.