Does the so-called pink tax actually exist?

2018-08-13 23:50

Self-appointed consumer sleuths and bloggers have conducted cursory shelf comparisons and uploaded them on social media to highlight the price discrepancies.

It is claimed that women have become all the more incensed because they are generally paid less than men.

Code for Africa, a gender pay-gap tool based on the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Gender Gap Report found that South African men earn about R6 607.25 more than women monthly.

This equates to the largest pay gap in Africa.

“Now add to this the fact that women generally have to pay more than men for basic monthly necessities and one begins to perceive the full spectrum of challenges to women achieving financial independence,” says Danelle van Heerde, head of advice processes at Sanlam Personal Finance.


A survey conducted by financial services group Sanlam shows that 93.4% of women claim to spend over R100 on monthly toiletries, while only 76% of men believe they do.

Over 30% of women also claim to spend R1 500 per annum on medical screenings, whereas only 16% of men spend over R1 500 per annum.

Contraception spend is also different, with the majority of men surveyed by Sanlam (56.4%) saying they spent nothing on contraceptives, while 51.2% of women purchase contraceptives monthly, with 30% of them spending over R100 a month.

When it comes to a visit to the hairdresser there were definitely price differences. It was found that 65% of women spend over R200, compared with just 8% of men.

Babazile Mbetse, a black professional, says black women definitely pay more for their hair care than men.

“Men shave their hair once a week and pay a couple of hundred rand. But if you, as a black woman, get a cornrow hairstyle you could pay anything between R150 and R400 depending on where you go. Weaves can cost anything from R1 200 a bunch. You need three bunches – and that’s excluding installation which can cost around R600. But we don’t mind paying because our hair is our ‘crown’.”


City Press decided to do its own cursory shelf comparison (in store and online) to see if pink tax is a reality.

There were mixed results as not all products were priced differently, but our own basket of goods still showed that women would pay R684 more!

Perhaps there’s been enough of a spotlight on pink tax in recent months to scare stores into evening out prices a bit.

When I went into Pick n Pay, Cape Union Mart and Clicks stores to compare the prices of razor blades, creams, deodorants, shirts and slippers they were evenly matched, but there were still some price discrepancies found online and in luxury stores such as Truworths Elements.


It’s difficult to glean whether some products such as the Gillette Blue II long handle razor and the Gillette for Women Blue II disposable were of the same make and quality.

When it came to perfumes, I asked one store assistant why the Zadig & Voltaire ladies perfume cost more than the male equivalent.

I was told the one is an eau de toilette while the other is an eau de parfum, and she believed women paid more as the ladies perfume was a stronger smell.

Products can be named similarly but other than the name and brand attached, it’s hard to ascertain whether the product is in fact the male or female equivalent of another – making it confusing for me and for the consumer too.

Our verdict: The reality is that when it comes to flash shelf comparisons, women appear to pay more for certain items.

Want to pay less?

Be prepared to “downshift” your preferences to house brands or cheaper products that are offered by the same company if you want to stay loyal.

And if you find there’s no difference in how the item performs – there’s no reason women can’t use men’s products to save money!

Read more on:


Next on City Press

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

March 17 2019