/ Shopping

Should more stores follow Tesco’s gender price changes?

pink razors

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.’

Price review

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?


I’m having a different gender-related problem with Tesco. When my receipt was printed a couple of days ago, a coupon for makeup remover popped out of the printer. A couple of years ago I had one for ladies’ clothing. 🙁

Most of the coupons are related to products I have bought, but this is worrying.

Oh dear Wavechange… I had a similar situation when Marks and Spencer kept offering me £5 off David Gandy men’s underwear. Not sure how they work these offers out 🙄

Unexpected item in the coupon area. 🙂

Unexpected item in the gender area? Please wait an assistant is coming to adjust your gender identity.

Lauren: are you saying M & S is trying to flog you used underwear? D’you even know this David Gandy chap? Disgraceful. They’ll be trying to sell us second hand toilet paper, next.

Nothing to be ashamed of – you can be quite open about such matters these days guys……and gals. Much of this stuff in both male and female form does the same job, so use NI and buy the cheapest. Why make a big deal of it? wavechange, I am told some men do use nail varnish (clear, in the main) so the coupon might be a helpful hint. As for underpants, Lauren, if you wear trousers or shorts then maybe they are as appropriate for you as for men? Boxer shorts are much more comfortable than men’s Y front knickers.

I was more worried when on the tube recently and a nice young Japanese lady offered me her seat – was that Ageist?

I used to think M&S knew more about underwear and who buys it than any other retailer. They clearly realised that an enormous amount of men’s underwear was bought by women, presumably for their men, whether to smarten them up, soften them up, force them to get rid of the washed-out threadbare one-size-fits-all bags they swan around the house in, or indeed in the hope that a new pair of pants would turn the flabby torso into a David Gandy look-alike. Twice when I have been rummaging through the racks in an M&S underwear department I have been apprehended by women seeking a new outfit for their men asking me what size I take in boxer shorts as I seem to be of a similar size. So, M&S, I think when it comes to the suitable image, David Gandy is clearly not your man and, if pressed, I am willing to offer my services as a model to pose and posture in my pants [but only for a good cause – it’s not something I could possibly take money for].

Further to Malcolm’s point, whereas women can wear men’s underwear, I venture to suggest that the opposite is rarely successful.

When I was a schoolkid I used clear nail varnish as an etch resist when making electronic circuit boards. I think I got my mum to buy it.

I may be wrong but didn’t M&S use the St Michael brand for both genders?

But they never had a St Michelle. Whilst some (many?) men buy presents of glamorous underwear for their wives or ladyfriends the same doesn’t seem to happen in reverse – or have I been missing out on silk undergarments? I must say the ones mrs r knits get a bit itchy.

womens tights can keep you warm in very wintery conditions

John: just a thought but I wonder how many men actually ask their wives to do the underwear shopping for them? It could be a self-conscious thing.

Malcolm, you are right, many clothes are unisex these days. Perhaps more women wear men’s clothes than the other way round.

I don’t think I would like to wear men’s underpants, but a few years ago I wanted some shorts for the garden, and women’s were either too short, too long, shaped really badly or just too expensive for gardening. I found some men’s swimming shorts in Next for I think £8, good length, thick fabric, reasonably well made, good fit, cut out the lining and I had the perfect gardening shorts. They are even good enough to wear in public. Just try buying the same quality for women at that price.

Better not try to imagine John 😎 modelling men’s underpants, 🏄🏻 😱 but I have often asked staff to try on shirts or jackets if buying them for a pressie.

Bishbut, try women’s leggings, much thicker and warmer and will last a lot longer as they don’t ladder.

Better to just steer them to the men’s department and tell them they need new pants or socks. Then they can’t complain they are the wrong ones.

I have no idea, Ian, but you might be right. I suspect a lot of men just take it for granted that their other halves will buy their underwear. Some women get fed up with it and just go to the street market and get something cheap and cheerful, or go to a posh menswear store and buy something ridiculously unsuitable, both with the intention of getting their man to look after themselves in future. It doesn’t work.

I prefer to sort myself out and look after my smalls myself, including ironing them, so that I know when replacements are needed.

I’ve never understood the attraction of having another man’s name written round the waistband, but then I am completely out of touch with the modern world.

Having another man’s name written around the waistband can lead to funny situations, like when Marty McFly’s mum-to-be thinks his name is Calvin Klein in Back to the Future.

Whenever I need trouser belts, I end up buying them from the women’s department where they are half the price. The last one I bought was in M & S for a tenner: the nearest equivalent for men was £20.

We can push for shops to stop gender price differences but what might help are some examples of products that are sold to children. That would be rather naughty.

Does anyone have any examples?

Long ago I used to buy underpants from M & S. It was quite tricky as they had so many lines of apparently very similar items in a variety of multi packs. Then they lost their way and at around the same time I found other competitors, some in other countries.
The proliferation of fakes in many brands is an issue too. (I have worked in import enforcement in quite a few countries in the last 20 years.)
I now use a particular Amazon supplier that lives too far away to visit and is very competitive and also trustworthy. (I used to live much closer to him.)
Problem solved. I am surprised so many above still use M & S. Perhaps they are some of the young trendies (i.e. below 70) that everyone seems to want as a customer these days.

I am glad to see that people still have time to dream up new concerns. Gender discrimination of course must be stamped out ruthlessly, but I find that age discrimination is much more pervasive and menacing. Just wait until incontinence hits you with old age. My local suppliers put my nappies in the feminine hygiene products aisle. It is not as if I am fast enough to make a brisk raid.
This is becoming a super sized issue for me. I must write to my MP. Or maybe Which? would lodge a super complaint?

And why do suppliers not make underpants that fit over them? It is an utter disgrace. The risks to health and comfort are legion. It is not simply a matter of buying a larger size, as my waist is not bigger. It is a shape issue. Why are M & S and Calvin Klein not catering for this (ahem!) vast market? They should be required to market a range of fittings to suit us all. And where is the understanding that some races have bigger bellies to accommodate? There is just so much vile discrimination to combat.

Had you spotted that men’s hair combs are far more expensive per inch than ladies versions?

Whilst I appreciate that the topic is a serious one some of the comments have given me a good laugh – thank you.
P.S. I was brought up on M & S undies & clothes but sadly gave up when they “got their knickers in a twist” over sizing!