The Pink Tax and Small Business

By Deborah Sweeney | allBusiness

I recently learned about something that initially surprised me, but in hindsight, was so very apparent and right under my nose for as long as I can remember. I’m talking about the pink tax, the fact that women’s products and services are sold at a higher price than men’s.

Like I said, this isn’t by any means a new problem, but only in the last few years has it been getting any sort of attention.

According to a 2010 Consumer Reports’ study, drugstores are setting women’s products at a higher price than men’s. For example, at Walgreens, Excedrin Complete Menstrual costs 50 cents more than Excedrin Extra Strength, even though it contains the same ingredients in the same quantities.

At Old Navy, plus-sized women’s jeans cost $12 to $15 more than standard-sized jeans, while the men’s jeans do not experience a similar price increase, despite the extra fabric.

What does that mean for small business owners?

Not only is the pink tax bad because women are making less than men on a grand scale (so paying more for goods and services just doesn’t make sense–it’s not like these products are being marketed to a richer demographic), but it’s just crummy, in general, for women to pay more for what’s marketed to them, especially when it’s happening without their blatant knowledge.

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Now, I acknowledge that we do exist in a free market, and buyers, technically, don’t have to buy the pink stuff. But as a CEO who’s worked hard to separate her business from the competition by means of integrity and genuine customer service, something doesn’t sit well when businesses are charging prices just because they can get away with them. Customers have a knack for sniffing that stuff out, and with websites like Yelp and other review sites, all it takes is one viral comment and the jig is up.

What you charge for your products and services is ultimately your business (literally), but ask yourself why you price your goods the way you do. Is there a difference in your gendered products? Do they cost differently if they are made the same?

Maybe they really are made differently and it’d be worth it to inform your customers just why some products cost more than others. Oftentimes, lower prices can equate to more customers. Perhaps selling “anti-pink tax” products will be the next big selling point.

About Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.

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