Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pretty in Pink?

Today The Times leads with: "Women charged more on ‘sexist’ high street" (yes, it's a slow news day).

Levi’s 501 jeans for women are ~46 per cent more expensive than men’s
"High street stores are charging women up to twice as much as men for practically identical products, an investigation by The Times has found.

"The cost of clothes, beauty products and toys for women and girls is higher than equivalent items marketed at men and boys, according to an analysis of hundreds of products. The “sexist” prices can be found at many of Britain’s biggest retailers, including Tesco, Boots and Amazon. In one case Tesco charges double the price for ten disposable razors simply because they are pink.

"At Argos, identical children’s scooters are £5 more expensive in pink than in blue. Levi’s 501 jeans for women are on average 46 per cent more expensive than the men’s version, even if they have the same waist and leg length.

"Retail bosses face being called to parliament to justify the price gap after the chairwoman of a committee of MPs called the practice unacceptable.

"Maria Miller, who leads the women and equalities committee, said: “It is unacceptable that women face higher costs for the same products just because they are targeted at women. Retailers have got to explain why they do this. At a time when we should be moving towards a more de-gendered society, retailers are out of step with public opinion.”

"Sam Smethers, of the Fawcett Society campaign group for women’s rights, said: “This investigation is really quite shocking. What we are seeing is a sexist surcharge. We need more gender-neutral options and an end to these rip-off practices.”
"Tesco said: “We work hard to offer clear, fair and transparent pricing. A number of products for females have additional design and performance features. We continually review our pricing strategy.”

"A spokesman for Boots said: “Our products are priced individually based on factors including formulation, ingredients and market comparison.”

"Argos did not comment."
Markets, huh?

There is so much joy in this article for anyone who has a smattering of economics or marketing. I'm not one to lecture - let me just give you the headings:

As a bonus we have the gender politics, like who is the bad guy here?

Do feminists think that women should pay the same unit price for pink razors as men pay for the equally-functional blue ones? So are we talking price controls?

Or do they think that women should liberate themselves from girly-pink and simply buy blue (which would successfully subvert the retailer's market segmentation and price discrimination), (after all, no one's stopping them)?

As long as women are willing in the mass to pay extra for pink, the market will helpfully arrange to charge them more for it.

I think the answer must be to market blue as gender-neutral.

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