Do companies price products differently depending on whether the target consumer is male vs. female? Most people would say that the same product should be priced the same, no matter who the intended buyer is for the product. And, as consumers, we expect fair pricing for all. Yet, in reality, prices often vary depending on the targeted consumer.
Research done by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs examined gender-based pricing of goods in NYC for nearly 800 products and 90 brands at 24 online and in-store retailers. The categories examined included toys and accessories, children’s clothing, adult clothing, personal care products, and more. The findings were surprising: on average women’s products were 7% higher than similar products for men. And, in nearly all categories, women’s products cost more 42% of the time, while men’s products cost more only 18% of the time.
The study also referenced a similar one done by the State of California in 1994. That study estimated that women paid an annual “gender tax” of approximately $1,351 for the same services compared to men.
Next time you are at a store, do your own comparison and see what you find.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students: Should prices be the same for all buyers, regardless of gender and ethnicity?
- Discuss the laws that protect consumers from discriminatory pricing.
- Show the New York City research report on gender pricing and have students review it: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/partners/gender-pricing-study.page
- Give the students a weekend assignment. Divide students into teams and have each select two categories of products to examine (ex: shampoo, jeans, shirts, etc.). Have them take photos, or screen clips, of the products and the prices.
- Tally the results. Are the students’ findings consistent with those of NYC and California?
Source: Washington Post