By Elizabeth Glover, For The Miami Student
Historically, women pay more for necessary items, such as deodorant, razors and shampoo – a phenomenon known as the “Pink Tax.” However, a walk through MacCracken Market at Miami University proves a “blue tax” is the more likely case.
Stocked with the latest beauty and grooming products for both men and women, MacCracken’s prices are higher across the board when compared to national retailers. But men’s products receive an extra price hike.
Men’s Old Spice Re-Fresh body spray sits at $4.89 on the shelves of Walgreens, but at MacCracken it is $5.89, a dollar more. Additionally, at MacCracken, a 5-pack of women’s Bic razors is $4.09, while men’s are marked over a dollar higher at $5.45.
According to Ann Fuehrer, professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, this is not shocking. Fuehrer said during her summer classes, she takes students to convenience stores like Wal-Mart to observe these breaches in price.
Although Fuehrer said in the past, women’s grooming products were more expensive than men’s, the price gap is closing as years pass.
Fuehrer said this issue is not black-and-white. She noted that when her students conduct surveys on price discrepancies, they find that women spend thousands of dollars more on grooming products annually than men.
Fuehrer said the conclusions of her studies have changed over about a five-year period. She attributes a lot of that change to advertising strategies.
“Especially with grooming products, advertisers, marketers and manufacturers have discovered that men will pay money for products as well,” Fuehrer said. “It used to be that all of the pressure for image was on women, and men were really judged in terms of body size and muscle.”
She believes marketers are discovering that men are becoming influenced by media pressures in the same way women are. She thinks this is why the discrepancy is closing.
Sophomore Marie Meadows, a MacCracken student employee, said she thinks women have greater needs when it comes to products, and rely on their products to do more for them than men do.
“It’s kind of shocking,” Meadows said. “You would think that women’s products would be priced higher because they offer more than men’s.”
Sophomore Olivia Teteris, a self-proclaimed frequent shopper at MacCracken, shared her own sentiments.
“It’s pretty sexist,” she said. “I buy men’s deodorant because I like the smell, I had no idea it was more expensive.”
Fuehrer said this is due to strategic marketing by companies.
“Marketers keep these things pretty well hidden,” Fuehrer said. “They don’t want consumers to understand all of the gimmicks, tricks and strategies that are used in order to sell products.”
Fuehrer discussed the silver lining to the issue as well.
“On the flip side, I think that consumers are becoming much more aware,” she said.
Awareness, along with change, is Fuehrer’s primary concern. She urges her students to see themselves as active agents, and to become catalysts in helping change consumer-based issues such as this.
“Ultimately, we as the consumer are doing the spending and the buying, so we are the ones who make the choices on what products and brands we
buy,” Fuehrer said.