2015-12-22

模倣子 Gender Tax

As a male, I find that there is very little variety, very little to choose from in terms off all of the products listed. When there is choice, it might be a two to four different colors. Shaving? Two or three different razors, all basically the same. Socks. T-shirts, Slacks. Suit. Tie. Whatever male hairstyle is going this decade, everybody is wearing it, and whatever products support that (gel, mouse, shaver, etc.) are all that's on offer. Very little is offered the male these days in terms of choice of garments or self-maintenance products. Also, since I am very tall, they pretty much never have my size anyway (unless they expect me to weigh 2-3 times as much as I do or something -- I guess my body image is being dictated by somebody else). Shoes? Sneakers or dress shoes. Lace-up or loafers, black or brown, that's about it.

Anyway, as a Swiss friend pointed out when his girlfriend asked him why LEFT-handed Swiss Army knives should be several times more expensive than RIGHT-handed Swiss Army knives. He pointed out that lefties are only 10% of the population, so the market is TEN TIMES SMALLER. They only cost 3-4 times more, though.

Maybe this has something to do with it. I don't know, but it's possible. Men are pretty much stuck, thanks to rampant homophobia, with what we've got, i.e., no variety, even some colors off the menu. If a guy is stuck with slacks, and maybe a jacket, oxford shirt or maybe a polo (and can get away with one or two of each, certainly one or two COLORS of each), but a woman can go with any of a number of styles of dresses, skirts, shorts (more situations where a woman can get away with these), pant suits, leggings, hose, coats, hats (men don't wear these much anymore), shoes, boots (on a man? avast ye matey?), etc. in a rainbow of colors, has to have stuff that matches everything else, the stores have to carry lime scarves for the women who buy the lime skirts and belts, blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, as I said, I don't know if this is THE reason why women pay more for this stuff than men. But, as a man, I can tell you that having nothing to choose from is kind of oppressive, but it also saves time, and apparently it saves money, too, which I didn't think of until now. Basically, every time you add a new item, a new color, or a new size or whatever, you slice the market size in two and decrease the economy of scale and make things more and more expensive. The fact that guys have no market choice and generally look like a bunch of drab schlubs is the trade-off (maybe). I have always been frustrated with the "free market economy's ability to meet my needs" and when I lived in Tokyo I only wore custom-tailored suits (expensive? duh...) because of course nothing else was available.

Given how much more choice women seem to have with all this stuff, the effective "demand population" for each individual line of clothing or personal care product is drastically reduced from what it would be if all women bought the same thing (like men do), and so it's to be expected that the price should be dramatically higher. But, like with the Swiss Army knife, even with only one TENTH of a "demand population" the price only goes up 3-4 times.

So I guess I'm a little surprised that the price hike should only be 4%-13%.  They CAN chisel you even more if there are two or more brands that are really the same since they can rip you off on the cheaper one a LITTLE less and make you think you're getting a bargain and play that game all day. One thing I would suspect is that they save on the QUALITY of products for women, that is, make up for the decreased economy of scale by cutting the quality, which also makes women have to repurchase the same things over and over which is another hidden cost.

Anybody have any thoughts about this "quality theory"? A reasonably good man's suit will last for years, and you typically get it with two pairs of pants since those take the most wear. Same for a quality pair of shoes, which in Tokyo you would re-sole over and over again. Plus you can wear them any season. I don't know if any woman's garment can say that. Point is, a man can buy $2,000-$3,000 worth of clothes (Typical for Tokyo, maybe much lower elsewhere) and they will last for years and be good for all business and social occasions. That's all that's expected from him. People will give him ties and socks (that's all that's expected of gift-givers). And really, a man CAN'T get clothes beyond that wardrobe and really have any place to wear them. Anything beyond a bar of soap and a razor and nobody's going to notice or he's impinging on the Homophobia Zone.

Plus men aren't for the most part socially required to accessorize, per se (thanks again homophobia!) which adds up to more savings.

Does this ring true for anybody?  I am a "tall dude" and it has long been my perception that I have very, very little choice in terms of personal care products or, of course, clothing. My reaction is usually somewhere along the line of "Thank God!" and "Really...?!" when I actually find anything. In personal care, there's usually exactly one thing, and that's if I need something absolutely mundane.
I don't know what it's like for women. Do you find you have lots of things to chose from? If you have more than one or two or three choices for anything, then you're probably way ahead of me and my above analysis may have some traction.

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For whatever reason, it seems that (see my other post):
1. women crave variety in all of these products
2. all men effectively buy "the same product", women don't
3. men enjoy economy of scale, women don't
4. women's products end up costing more
5. quality of women's products is probably cut to make up the shortfall
In other words, and for example, if men have one choice for a given product, and women have ten choices for a comparable one, it is as thought though the demand for the male product were ten times higher than the female one. The maker can afford to spend more on R&D, make it of higher quality, make it more efficiently in larger quantities, test it more thoroughly, etc., and ultimately sell it for a lower price.
THAT'S simple economics.
Even if the same maker makes three different products for women, they still have to do a lot of the stuff above over again from scratch for each product, which adds to the cost, which equals less testing, less design, less efficiency, more defects.
Yes, you could maybe say that men are less "picky" about, say, their razors, and that there're only a couple of choices, but in the end it doesn't matter since they're all good and they're all as good as they can be, so there's no need for more than one or two choices.

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I feel like it is even more than that--it's a fine bit of coercion, too--women are expected to buy more things than men as well, just because of acculturation: expected to wear makeup, fancy hairdos, etc. Expected to be fashionable. Expected to have special hygiene routines, etc.
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Yes, I think this is absolutely tied to what we're discussing (see my other LOOONG post). Is it a chicken and egg thing? Women being "expected" to accessorize seems to be a trend throughout history and cultures -- what's up with that?  I'm sure it's a memetic thing, so pressure from society, and maybe mostly from women themselves (it's amazing how little men care about most things). I think that such a variety of products targeting women = destruction of economy of scale = price hike + decreased quality. Exactly what we're on about here.  Maybe not so "fine" after all, eh? (^-^)

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