November 30, 2018
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THE JARGONIST: Breaking Down Business’s Buzziest Terms

Pink tax noun (pronounced pingk taks)

Definition: The price difference between products and services marketed specifically to females vs. gender-neutral offerings or those marketed specifically to males. The buzzword came about from the lazy, cynical, exploitive marketing practice of simply changing the cosmetic features of a product (e.g., coloring it pink) and charging more for it.

Used in a sentence: I’m not paying a pink tax for the exact same scooter I bought for my son, just because this one is sparkly and has unicorn decals on it!

First known usage: The practice has been in effect for decades, but in 2015, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs released a study titled “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer[1]” that quantified the price difference women pay for products of like value (on average, 7% more). The survey re-introduced the concept of a “gender tax,” which first emerged in similar studies, in the ‘90s. The preponderance of examples in the study showed how many manufacturers simply changed a product’s color to pink, hence the term “pink tax.”

The Buzz Index: With gender inequality under the cultural microscope, use of the term is on the rise and should be on the radar of anyone marketing to women (i.e., any marketer). Upstart razor brand Billie deserves special note for calling out the pink tax on razors marketed to women, which cost “10-15% more than men’s razors. Not cool!”

Brush up on other business buzz words: Co-create and Continuous innovation.

Jargonist Robert Cherry is Chief Creative at Seed Strategy. He’d like his pink tax back for all the goods he’s purchased his young daughter over the years.

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