Over the past five years, there have been numerous articles and studies about the “Woman Tax” and gendered pricing on personal maintenance items like dry cleaning or razor blades. Many of these articles specifically call out antiperspirant as a problem area.
With the Indix Product API at my fingertips, I decided to do some digging of my own. I started wondering just how insidious this gendered pricing was – are men’s and women’s antiperspirants blatantly priced differently per unit, or is the pricing differential hidden behind size differences?
To figure this out, I looked at per unit pricing across many major antiperspirant brands. Some targeted towards women, some towards men, some towards both. The answer to my question about whether there is blatant antiperspirant “Woman Tax,” it turns out, is “it depends.”
I decided to look at eight different brands of antiperspirants. I wanted brands that had good reputation amongst consumers, so I looked at several ratings lists to make sure that these brands didn’t suck.
Each brand and sub-category that I examined had at least eight offerings per product in our Product Intelligence database. This ensured a fair price range for my analysis.
I looked at these brands:
For each brand or query, I looked at average minimum sale price and pulled out multi-unit packs/cases and outliers. Here is what the average minimum sale price per unit across all of the above brands looks like without any individual product lines broken out; we see that there’s some heavy variability across brands.
One more note: when you see anything listed as +men or -women for the rest of this post, it means that the product name does (+) or doesn’t (-) include that word.
When I analyzed the brands with his and hers product lines, there was only one brand that made me go, “Hmmmm?” I’m looking at you, Dove (note that the following chart is magnified to better show the difference):
You’ll note that Dove shows a definite average minimum price differential between their men’s line and their other antiperspirants. Dove’s women’s line is priced an average of 29% higher than the average minimum price across all brands and 19% above their men’s line. This especially made me cranky, since Dove targets women with most of their products, has a brilliant body image campaign, and is the brand I personally use.
After some thought, however, I realized that this may not be Dove’s fault at all. The data I pulled via our product API isn’t straight from the brands—it’s straight from the 51 online retailers in our database that I included in this analysis. Dove may not even know that online retailers are pricing some of their products targeted to women higher than those targeted to men.
The two other brands that carry antiperspirant lines for both genders and label it as such made me much happier (also magnified to show differences):
You’ll note that for Degree and Speed Stick, the antiperspirants labeled for women actually have a slightly lower average minimum price than the ones labeled otherwise. This may mean that they’re not imposing the “Woman Tax” on their antiperspirant lines—or at least not imposing it via per unit pricing. That said, they may still be taxing women via differing per ounce pricing.
I was also curious about how the brands and sub-brands targeted at either or both genders stacked up against each other, so I looked at men’s lines, women’s lines, and blended lines. All of these charts are on the same non-magnified scale.
Well, these views are interesting. Unfortunately for the parents of adolescent boys, Axe clearly has premium pricing on a per-unit average. But for the women-only category as well as those that offer both, it’s Dove out in front again. (Is it just me, or are those charts raising their middle finger?) That said, men’s antiperspirant is more expensive per unit overall as the charts show. Maybe men’s brands really do come in larger sizes by default. I’m not completely sure; my husband buys his own antiperspirant.
So the answer, as I mentioned, to the question, “Is there a woman-tax on antiperspirant” is, “It depends.” Dove online retailers appear overtly to be applying the “Woman Tax” per unit. Retailers for the other brands, however, aren’t overtly applying it, which may mean that something extraordinarily insidious is going on. Looking at per ounce pricing, however, is a research project for another day.