Thursday 12 December 2019

Women vs men: it's the gender spender divide

Men get to save money in supermarkets
Men get to save money in supermarkets
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

The French government ordered an investigation into the so-called 'pink tax' earlier this month after it emerged that women were paying more than men in supermarkets for apparently identical products.

The move followed accusations from a women's rights organisation in France that supermarkets over there were charging more for female versions of goods such as razors, shampoos, deodorants and shaving gels. One French supermarket was charging more for a female version of a pack of razor blades - even though there were only half as many blades in the female pack as the male one.

This pink tax - that is the premium for 'female' versions of goods - is also alive and well in Ireland. Here are some things which women will pay more than men for in Ireland.


Head to Tesco for an own-brand deodorant and the cheapest female one you'll get is a 75ml can of Tesco Bodyspray Lilac for 69c. However, the cheapest own-brand male deodorant is a 150ml can of Tesco Active Rush Men's Bodyspray for 74c. The male own-brand deodorant is almost the same price as the female one - but the male can is twice the size, so it is much better value.

When asked why its own-brand deodorants offered better value for males than females, a spokeswoman for Tesco said: "The 75ml Tesco women's bodyspray was designed in a travelsize format, which has a higher production cost than the larger male version." Why not just sell the female deodorant in a similar can to the male version then?

Shaving gel

Your chances of finding the same shaving gel on display in the male shaving section of a supermarket as in the female one are next to nil. This makes it hard to compare the price of male and female shaving gel.

However, pick up the cheapest shaving gel in the men's section and chances are it's a fraction of the price of the cheapest gel in the women's section.

For example, when we visited Dunnes Stores earlier this month, one of the cheapest cans of shaving gel for men was the 200ml can of Gillette Sensitive Shaving Gel for €2.69. In the women's section, the cheapest can of gel this paper could find was a 200ml can of Gillette Satin Care (Lavender Kiss) for €3.92.

In Tesco, a 200ml can of its own-brand Tesco Men's Essential Sensitive Shave Gel costs €1.49. However, a 200ml can of the store's own-brand shaving gel for women, Tesco Moisture Rich Shave Gel Berry, costs €1.99 - about a third more.

"These shaving products have varying product specifications and ingredients that would not be comparable across the male and female versions," said a spokeswoman for Tesco. All the same, if Tesco's own-brand men's shaving gel doesn't set a man's skin on fire, it's unlikely to do so to a woman's - so why should she pay more for her shaving gel?

Razor blades

Like shaving gel, it is hard to compare the price of male and female razors in supermarkets because you are unlikely to find the exact same products on display.

Bic disposable razors are some of the cheapest you'll buy. In Dunnes Stores, a pack of 14 Bic 2 Sensitive disposable razors was priced at €2.49 in the men's section of the store this paper visited.

However, the cheapest pack of disposable razor blades which we could find in the female section was a 15-pack of Wilkinson Sword Extra Beauty 2 for €4.97.

In Tesco, a 10-pack of Bic 2 Sensitive twin-blade disposable razors was priced at €2.49. A 'female' version of this pack - the Bic Twin Lady Pouch, which contains eight twin-blade disposable razors - was priced at €3.29.


The female version of a rucksack can sometimes work out more expensive than the unisex version.

The Great Outdoors hiking store, for example, has a man's Lowe Alpine APS Travel Trekker rucksack priced at €175. However, the female version of the bag, the Travel Trekker II ND 60, is priced at €189 - about 8pc more.

Women sometimes pay more for female versions of rucksacks because these bags come with a smaller back, according to a spokeswoman for The Great Outdoors.

"Usually the woman's version of a bag is more suited to a woman's frame," said the spokeswoman. "Women would tend to buy bags with a smaller back."


Women pay twice as much as men to get their hair cut.

A barber will usually charge a man €20 or less for a wash, cut and blow dry; a woman could pay €40 or more in a salon. Women can also expect to pay more than men to get their hair cut in the same salon - even if their hair is as short as a man's.

In Peter Mark, for example, it costs a woman €39.20 to get a wash, cut and blow dry (more if her hair is long). A man will pay €33.60 - 17pc less.

A spokeswoman for Peter Mark said that the reason for the price difference was that the lady's cut took more time and involved "different cutting techniques". "One is a barbering finish; the other is a lady's fashion finish," said the spokeswoman.

Dry cleaning

You'll usually be charged more to dry clean a blouse than a shirt (no matter how plain). It can cost anything from €3 to €4 to dry clean a shirt. You pay between €5.50 and €7 to dry clean a plain blouse. Some dry cleaners charge a few euro more to clean a lady's suit than a man's.

Scent of a woman

Women often pay more for an identical eau de toilette than a man. Early last week, a 100ml bottle of Burberry eau de toilette was priced in Debenhams at €64.35 for a man and €67.95 for a woman.

The 30ml bottle of Burberry eau de toilette was also more expensive for women than men. The price of a man's 30ml bottle of Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Eau de Cologne was €17.25 in Debenhams. At €19.25, a woman paid about 11pc more for a similar version - Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl Cologne.

Time to ask questions

The women's lobby group, the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI), has urged women to challenge supermarkets and other retailers and ask them why they are being charged more than men for 'female' versions of identical products.

"It is important that women say it to supermarkets and heighten awareness of this topic," said Orla O'Connor, director of the NWCI.

"A lot of the products which are geared towards men are marketed as functional things. The products targeted at women, on the other hand, are more about appearance.

"There's often more put into the packaging of female products - which, in turn, pushes up the price. This isn't just a price issue - it also feeds stereotypes."



Men can also get a raw deal when shopping, particularly when it comes to hair dye and jeans.

A woman will usually be able to pick up hair dye for lower price than a man.

The cheapest men's hair dye this paper could find in Tesco last week was Just For Men Colourant Dark Brown, which was priced at €7.15. The cheapest hair dye for women in the same store was Belle Colour Black No 1 - reduced from €6.75 to €5.40.

"Based on customer demand, we stock a larger range of female colourant products than male," said a spokeswoman for Tesco.

"Our female colour range includes over 10 brands, ranging in price from €5.69 to €15.99.""

There are some styles of jeans which women will pay less for than a man. We found that the cheapest pair of Diesel boot-cut jeans in Arnotts last week was a woman's pair priced at €130. The cheapest man's pair of Diesel boot-cut jeans was €140.

The cheapest pair of Wrangler boot-cut jeans in the store was also a woman's.

Men can also pay more for denim jackets than women do. When asked why men can pay more for certain jeans then women, a spokeswoman for Arnotts said: "We are guided on the recommended retail price by brands."

Getting a raw deal when shopping doesn't just come down to gender. Single people pay through the nose for hotel rooms when compared to couples.

A single person staying in a single room in the Galway Bay Hotel this Saturday will pay €105 for the night. A couple will pay €130 for a double room - which works out at about €65 each.

Flights can be more expensive for the free and single. Easyjet, for example, had an offer last week where you could fly from London one-way for €38 or less - but this rate is only available if two people fly on the same booking.

Package holidays also usually work out cheaper per person for couples than for single people.

Couples can often get discounts off gym membership - whereas singletons won't.

Car insurance is also usually cheaper for married couples.

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