Pink tax is real: women pay 43% more for personal care products in Canada

The pink tax is very real for the Canadian female consumer. Looking at 3,191 personal care products from three popular Canadian retailers, it is clear that gram for gram, women are paying more than men for basic products like shampoo, razors, soap and deodorant. Women pay 43% more for personal care products in Canada than men.

Retailers are great at disguising the pink tax. We found that if you were to buy the average priced razor, shampoo, soap, deodorant and shaving cream for women and men, women would pay $47.57 and men would pay $44.84. That’s only a 6% premium for women.

However women’s products are routinely sold in different quantities than men’s, making price comparison difficult. It’s only when you break down price for 100 millilitres or grams that the glaring difference in pricing is revealed. Our findings are in line with a similar study of New York retailers and demonstrates that the Canadian female consumer is not exempt from paying this "tax", despite our feminist Prime Minister.

Making a few assumptions about how much product the average person might go through a year, and adding in the costs of female sanitary products, we’ve estimated the average woman is paying $497 per year on personal care essentials, while men are paying only $282.

Some might argue that the additional cost for women’s products is justified since women’s products contain more scents and other special ingredients, have premium packaging and need to be marketed more heavily. But many “for men” products are also specially scented, use special formulas and are sold through expensive marketing campaigns. Did someone say Old Spice?

Sick of paying more because you’re a woman? Consider buying unisex products. Most unisex products are either budget items so you’ll save money, or natural/organic products so you’ll be paying for better ingredients, not a gender based mark-up. Alternatively, just buy products for men. The ingredients are usually identical for products and are just marketed differently to men vs. women with fancy packaging. There are more product and scent options than ever for men so you’re bound to find something you like.

Look at these 2 products side by side:

The amazing thing is the ingredients are identical

For men - price is $4.70 for 3.8 oz Price of retail products

For women - price is $5.63 for 3.8 oz


Price of retail products

How we did it:

Using ParseHub, we scraped over 3,199 personal care products from walmart.ca, well.ca and loblaws.ca. We calculated a price per unit measure of each item (either price for each item, price per 100g or price per 100mL). Every product was tagged as either for men, women, unisex or for kids. This was based on product names, branding, scents or the ways these retailers categorised the products. Super premium products were eliminated from the study, as were products that applied to one gender only such as beard oil. Finally, each product was categorized into one of five different product types: Deodorant & Antiperspirant; Razors, Shaving Creams & Lotions, Soaps & Bodywash and Hair Care. From this we worked out the average per unit price of each product category and the premium paid by women per category.

We added products women will buy out of necessity such as tampons, panty liners and pads and the premium women pay is even greater. The average price of one sanitary product in Canada according to our study is 29 cents. If a woman used 5 products per period day, this is an extra $87 per year for women. 5 products multiplied by 5 days per month, multiplied by 12 months, multiplied by 0.29.

Through an informal office poll (with 20 people), we’ve estimated the average user will go through 2.5 litres of shampoo, 500g deodorant, 24 razors (average of using disposables or changing blades), 60ml of shaving cream and 1.8 litres of body wash.