Striving toward unisex marketing


By Adnan Zarif, Staff Columnist

With the May 1 deadline approaching, many high school seniors have already decided which college they will attend in the fall. As students begin the rite of passage that is pre-college shopping, some women will find that they are paying more, sometimes much more, than their male counterparts for the same home and personal care products. The current trend in marketing is to price women’s products higher than the equivalent men’s products due to the greater demand from women and a subsequent willingness to pay these higher prices. There is, of course, an obvious solution: to walk to the other side of the store and purchase the other gender’s product. Regardless, this surface-level sexism is unacceptable.

Last week the Youtube channel The Daily Share released a video comparing the different cost of items such as razors and even pillows that were marketed toward men and women.

Overwhelmingly, the men’s products were cheaper. The video detailed the price discrimination women face with moisturizers, haircuts, fragrances and other beauty products. The unfortunate reality is that companies are unlikely to independently change their pricing models in the near future.

The concept of gender should not apply to products such as razors, face creams or pillows. There simply is no such thing as a feminine scent or a masculine design. There is nothing inborn that ties the experience of being a woman to the smell of flowers or the experience of being a man to the smell of tobacco or musk. Beyond products designed for specific biological purposes, gender divisions in marketing are completely arbitrary and utterly unacceptable. To be disturbed by the price difference but continuing to buy the women’s product anyway plays right into companies’ marketing design. The same occurs when a man keeps from the women’s section of a perfume store out of the false belief that there is a certain way a man ought to smell. These stereotypes increase the idea that marketing companies have created over the years in order to boost product sales: that men’s products and women’s products are somehow meaningfully different and fundamentally exclusive.

California is the only state that has demonstrated that it is possible to end gender-discriminatory pricing through legislation. However, it is a more worthwhile goal to strive toward unisex marketing as a whole — a trend only individual companies can create. Unisex marketing would not only end the blatantly unfair prices, but would be a step closer in eliminating the unnecessarily prescriptive effects manipulative marketing has placed on consumers. For now, an immediate remedy exists: it is as simple as buying the products marketed toward the other gender in order to show unisex marketing will work.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. 

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 30 print edition. Email Adnan Zarif at [email protected].