Last week, Burger King announced that it would sell Chick Fries (or, the brand’s Chicken Fries in a pink box) for the same price as its Chicken Fries. Chick Fries usually cost twice as much, the brand said, but they equalize the prices for one day only. It was a viral marketing stunt to call attention to the pink tax.
What is the pink tax, and is the pink tax a myth?
The “pink tax” refers to the phenomenon in which women are charged more than men for the same products, often sold in pink packaging. And, sorry, the pink tax is not a myth. According to a 2016 report by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, women are charged more than men for identical products 42 percent of the time.
What products are affected by the pink tax?
The DCA found that products across most major categories were affected by the pink tax, from baby products to those for senior citizens, or as the study said, “from cradle to cane.”
Shampoo marketed toward women costs 48 percent more than “men’s” shampoo; razors 11 percent more and lotion 11 percent more. On average, personal care products cost women 13 percent more, the study found.
Shirts at one price level cost women 25 percent more, sweaters 20 percent more and jeans 10 percent more. The study even found that adult diapers, canes and supports cost women significantly more than equivalent products marketed to men.
Across every category, the DCA found, on average, that women pay approximately 7 percent more than men for identical products. That adds up to $1,351 more each year.
“So not only do women make less but they pay more,” writes Candice Elliott at Listen Money Matters. “Women also live longer so they actually need more money for retirement. It’s a load of crap.”
“The problem is, for the most part, this is completely legal,” noted Vox in March. “Some states ban charging women more for services (like haircuts or dry cleaning). But consumer goods are still fair game. Ultimately, society expects women to look a certain way. And that way is just more expensive.”
But judging by how viral Burger King’s stunt went, we might soon see a larger national conversation about the pink tax. In April, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced the Pink Tax Repeal Act in the House to address the problem.