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What is Pink Tax?

Pink Tax is a term that describes that products and services specifically targeted toward women tend to be more expensive than the nearly identical products and services for men. It is not an actual tax that has been implemented by the government, but rather it is a discriminatory pricing practice based on gender. It was first found in 1994 when a report from California’s Assembly Office of Research in the United States first found that dry cleaning stores were charging more for a woman's blouse compared to a man's button-up shirt. Despite this, its effects are still apparent today in many items that women use. These include personal care products, services, clothing, and contraception among others. This phenomenon is not only apparent in South Africa but all over, where women have to pay more than men.

Evidence in South Africa

In 2018, the financial services group Sanlam conducted a survey on Pink Tax in South Africa. Their evidence found that women spend more and earn less compared to men. More specifically, they found that 93.4% of women spend over R100 on toiletries each month, whereas only 76% of men do. This discrepancy is also apparent for contraception, where 56.4% of men spend nothing on contraception whilst 51.2% of women buy contraceptives every month, and 30% of those spend over R100. City Press, in 2018, also conducted research for basic items such as razors, deodorants and haircuts and found that overall women paid R684 more.

So, we decided to do our own updated research to see if this is still an issue facing women in South Africa. In the table below we have chosen 6 similar items for men and women to show the price of each item and their price differences.

Our Findings

ProductFemaleMalePrice DifferenceStore
RazorBIC Twin lady disposable razor 5+1 - R41.95BIC 2 Raz 5+1 sensitive disposable razor - R34.95R7.00Dischem
Shaving CreamGillette Satin Care Sensitive Skin Shaving Gel 200ml - R99.99Nivea For Men Soothing Shaving Gel 200ml - R94.99R5.00Pick n Pay
DeodorantDove Antiperspirant Roll-On Deodorant Mineral Touch 50ml - R29.99Dove Men+CARE Antiperspirant Roll-On Deodorant Cool Fresh 50ml - R28.99R1.00Clicks
Hair CutHaircut only with a master stylist - R600.00Gents haircut with clippers with a master stylist - R300R300.00Carlton Hair
Hair Cut and FinishHaircut with blow-dry with a master stylist - R700.00Gents haircut with finish with a master stylist - R450R250.00Carlton Hair
T-shirtSuperbalist 2 pack v-neck relaxed tee black and white (100% cotton and short sleeve) - R329.00Superbalist 2 pack dean v-neck tee black and white (100% cotton and short sleeve) - R299.00R30.00Superbalist

So it seems that the findings are mixed, but for the majority of the products and services, women still pay more than men. However, it seems as if this price gap is finally starting to close with some items, such as razors. Unfortunately, it is difficult to completely compare products as they may differ in some aspects however we have tried our best to get the most similar products for men and women.

What can you do?

Now that you are aware of what Pink Tax is, we have a few recommendations for how you can avoid it. These include switching from brands which mark up women's products and going for a no-name brand or generally cheaper products from the company. Always compare the prices for men's and women's products as well as for different brands. Lastly, there is no reason why you can’t use male products that do exactly the same thing as female products!

Updated on: 12/05/2023

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