Shoes & Gender Analysis: Pink or Blue Tax? - Indix
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Shoes & Gender Analysis: Pink or Blue Tax?

This is the fourth post in our series on Shoes and Gender.

We’ve done a ton of work on pricing and gender, and we’ve found evidence of the Pink Tax, where women’s products are more expensive than men’s analogous products, in antiperspirants, skin care (although some brands do impose a Blue Tax), and shaving. In contrast, we found a Blue Tax, where men’s products are more expensive than women’s, in active apparel and, as mentioned above, some skin care lines. Which would it be for shoes, we wondered? We analyzed over 1.1 million men’s and women’s shoes from the Indix Cloud Catalog to reveal insights on pricing patterns.

Verdict: Blue Tax

Table 1 clearly shows that men and boys have more expensive shoes. At $75.30, the median price of men’s shoes is 36% higher than the women’s shoes’ median price of $55.20, and the boys’ shoes’ median price of $40 is 33% higher than the girls’ shoes’ median price of $30. Just as in our previous investigations into gendered pricing, there’s no clear smoking gun or rationale behind the difference.

Not So Fast…

However, the Footwear News study stated that “While men purchase fewer items, when they do buy shoes, they opt for more expensive ones that women do.” This survey result indicates that the Blue Tax may be demand-driven. In 2013, The Guardian published results from a Mintel marketing research study which indicated that men in the UK spent more on shoes than women, providing further evidence of demand. With this in mind, we decided to look at the relative number of shoes that men and women own so that we could compare the “closet” pricing.

Median Shoe Prices by Gender

To dig into closet pricing, we went to a 2013 StatCrunch study. Figure 1, which is a chart directly from the study, clearly shows that women own more shoes. Women had a median count of 20 pairs of shoes, where men only had 6. Multiplying the median counts by the median prices yields a women’s “closet” value of $1,104 and a men’s “closet” value of $452. Assuming the study’s numbers hold true over the general US population, women spend more than double what men do on their shoe “closets”. This may be because women have more shoe choices than men, given the relative product and brand counts.

Box Plot from StatCrunch Survey with Shoe Count by Gender

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Median weekly earnings of full-time workers were $865 in the first quarter of 2017. Women had median weekly earnings of $765 (39,780 annually), or 80.5 percent of the $950 (49,400 annually) median for men.

Combining the closet numbers with the salary statistics, men’s shoe “closets” represent 0.9% of their yearly salaries, where women’s represent 2.8%. That’s triple men’s. Does that mean shoes have a pink tax or a blue tax? Per shoe, it’s blue. By consumption, it’s pink. Which is it? You decide.

Want to learn more? Check out our Shoes & Gender report now!

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