US toy company Radio Flyer sells a red scooter for boys and a pink scooter for girls. Both feature plastic handlebars, three wheels and a foot brake. Both weigh about five pounds. The only significant difference is the price, a new report reveals. Retail chain Target listed one for $24.99 and the other for $49.99. The scooters' price gap isn't an anomaly. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs compared nearly 800 products with female and male versions - meaning they were practically identical except for the gender-specific packaging - and uncovered a persistent surcharge for one of the sexes. Controlling for quality, items marketed to girls and women cost an average 7 per cent more than similar products aimed at boys and men.
One contributing factor is profitability. You're pulling an extra dollar out of a certain group of consumers.Researchers for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs pored over toys, children's clothing, adult apparel, personal care products and home goods sold in the city. The largest price discrepancy emerged in the hair care category: Women, on average, paid 48 percent more for goods like shampoo, conditioner and gel. Razor cartridges came in second place, costing female shoppers 11 percent more. Walgreens, for example, peddled a blue box of Schick Hydro 5 cartridges for $14.99. The Schick Hydro "Silk," its purple sibling, was priced at $18.49.
Many men's products are not seen as men's products.They might just be seen as products in the category.That doesn't mean local companies always follow the rules. DCA inspectors issued 129 violations for gender pricing of services this year, compared to 118 in 2014. California and Florida's Miami-Dade County also prohibit selling the same services to men and women at different prices. No federal law, though, requires businesses to set gender-equal prices on products. New York City's report was released to heighten consumer awareness, Menin said, and to publicly shame companies with glaring disparities. Of the 24 retailers in the New York City report, the worst gender pricing disparity surfaced at Club Monaco, where women's clothing cost an average of 28.9 percent more than men's clothing, according to an independent analysis by economist Ian Ayres. Urban Outfitters trailed with a 24.6 percent gender premium, followed by Levis with 24.3 percent. The retailers did not respond to the Post's request for comment.
Of course, a woman's sweater might be crafted with nicer fabrics. A man's sweater might be stitched with cheaper polyester. But that often isn't the case. Frequently, the only difference between two products is color.In 1991, Ayres, a professor at Yale Law School, sent men and women to car dealerships across the Chicago area. He learned white women were charged 40 percent more than white men, supporting the stereotype that dealers assume women knew less about car values. Gender equality has improved considerably since Ayres's paper was published - so why do blatant price disparities persist today? "One contributing factor is profitability," he said. "You're pulling an extra dollar out of a certain group of consumers." Companies might be exploiting the idea that female shoppers are willing to spend more money than their male counterparts, he said. Of course, a woman's sweater might be crafted with nicer fabrics. A man's sweater might be stitched with cheaper polyester. But that often isn't the case. Frequently, the only difference between two products is color. "Those prices aren't being driven by costs," Ayres said, "but just because you take advantage of certain groups but not others." Ravi Dhar, director of the Center for Customer Insights at the Yale School of Management, said how we perceive "women's" products could help explain why gender markups persist in the marketplace. "Many men's products are not seen as men's products," he said. "They might just be seen as products in the category." Which makes the "pink" version a specialty product, he said. "His" and "hers" items likely stemmed from a retailer's embrace of gender stereotypes, but our appetites for personally tailored goods could have kept the distinction alive. "People see a greater fit between the product and their tastes," Dhar said, "and may be willing to pay more."