The other day, a friend posted a picture on Facebook of some women’s ear plugs she’d spied in a shop. They were pink and claimed to be ‘ultra soft’, but presumably worked in exactly the same way as the regular non-gender-specific yellow ones that I often buy.
It reminded me about a convo from last September on gender discrimination in the pricing of some high street supermarket products.
We discussed how, according to research by the Fawcett Society, women pay, on average, 31% more for own-brand supermarket toiletries, such as disposable razors, that had been styled in a gender-specific manner.
We asked you if you’d be peeved if you had to pay more because of your sex – and it turned out that a fair few of you would be.
Which? Conversation community member, John Ward, summed it up quite nicely:
‘There are hundreds of toiletry products that unnecessarily differentiate between male and female versions. I see no need for soap, shower gel, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and so on having a different formulation [I bet they don’t really] just because of the sex of the targetted user. They can have different fragrances but that should not lead to a higher price. Then there are razors, combs, and other grooming products that perform just as well in any colour or with any styling shape or design – yet the female-oriented version is priced at a premium for no justifiable reason.’
Four months on (and a brand new year) and retailers appear to be responding. Last week, Tesco announced it has cut the price of its own-brand women’s disposable razors to match that of a similar product for men.
The supermarket giant had been charging £1 for a pack of five women’s twin-blade razors, twice the price of its men’s version. There was no marked difference in the products, other than that one was styled pink and in a different aisle to the other.
Labour backbencher, Paula Sherriff, has been urging stores to review their pricing. The issue was debated in parliament and after highlighting this particular price discrepancy, Tesco reviewed its products to make sure it wasn’t guilty of gender-differentiated pricing.
In a letter to Sherriff, Tesco said that the price difference wasn’t down to a gender bias, but was ‘driven by the fact that male razors are produced and sold in significantly higher volumes, which reduces the price we pay for them.’
However, after speaking to suppliers, it agreed to align the price, so that the two products are now 10p per unit.
On the high street
Earlier in 2016, Boots altered the cost of an eye cream and a pack of women’s razors after a petition highlighted the disparity between equivalent products marketed at men and women at the high street chemist.
This gender-specific pricing is far from being just a woman’s problem either. In fact, as our September convo highlighted, men pay more for formal black trousers and plain white T-shirts than comparable female products.
Have you spotted any odd-looking price discrepancies lately? Are there any other shops that should follow Tesco and Boots’ lead?