CVS battles the ‘pink tax’

Discussion
Source: CVS video - “Women’s Health Matters | HERe, Healthier happens together | CVS Health”
Oct 17, 2022

CVS is slashing prices on its menstrual products and working to eliminate sales tax on such items across states as part of a broader push against the “pink tax,” a term referring to the premium women tend to pay versus men for personal health goods.

CVS reduced prices last week on its store brand tampons, menstrual pads, liners and cups products by 25 percent.

As of October 5, CVS also began paying sales tax for menstrual products on customers’ behalf in 12 states and last week also said it was partnering with organizations to eliminate such taxes in states.

One in four women struggled to purchase period supplies within the past year due to lack of income, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies.

Michelle Peluso, EVP and chief customer officer for CVS Health, said in a statement sent to USA Today, “We hope our actions help break down barriers and close gaps, while also inspiring other companies to follow our lead.”

CVS in recent years stopped selling tobacco products and photoshopping images from beauty advertisements to reinforce its health positioning.

In addition, CVS on its website last week said, to address the “pink tax,” it evaluated “thousands of products” to ensure products like razors and shaving cream have equal prices.

A study led by researchers from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University last year exploring the reasons behind the “pink tax” found demand for women’s deodorant products “is relatively inelastic” and that a higher share of TV advertising in the CPG category features women’s products.

CVS’s changes are part of its “HERE, Healthier Happens Together” initiative, which also aims to expand women’s health services in MinuteClinics.

Speaking to The Dallas Morning News, Jake White, CVS’s VP of merchandising and consumer health care, said the industry has had a “one-size-fits-all” approach to health care, but that women’s health challenges are “historically underrecognized and underappreciated.”

He added, “The reality is that women experience conditions that are unique to them, their physiology, their life stage. And given these sort of serious health gaps in care and answers to these systemic issues, we felt we needed to take action.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of CVS’s moves to reduce prices on menstrual and other personal products? What’s the root cause of the “pink tax” phenomenon?

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12 Comments on "CVS battles the ‘pink tax’"


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Matthew Pavich
BrainTrust

I commend CVS’s move to ensure that feminine hygiene products are priced fairly. It is obviously a savvy business move that will drive private label growth, targets their primary demographic, and helps create a larger contrast vs. their top competitor which has recently received some negative press for refusing certain products to female shoppers. Although it is the right business move, it is more important to call out that it is simply the right thing to do which is always the best move in the long run. While CVS should be commended, one should point out that they are not pioneers in the space as many sophisticated retailers are already using advanced pricing tools with rules to prevent discriminatory pricing and “pink taxes” along with all of the necessary dashboards and reports required to ensure that every shopper gets a fair price. Offering the right, fair, non-discriminatory price to all shoppers across all genders and demographics is a win-win strategy for the future and should be adopted (or better enforced) by more retailers.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

This is a long running injustice against women and should be phased out as soon as possible. The same injustice against women in the dry cleaning industry as well as the pricing in apparel in general should also come to an end. Why should women be paying more than men for personal care products, dry cleaning and clothes?

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Why are we still talking about this? Being charged a “pink tax” for feminine hygiene products is not only absurd, it’s insulting. Thank you CVS, for stepping up.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

CVS just keeps getting it right.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

This is another proof point that CVS is serious about living their brand’s vision as a health and wellness partner instead of simply a drug and convenience store. Over a decade ago CVS stopped selling all tobacco products because it wasn’t in line with their health objective, despite a $2 billion financial hit to the company. Now they are making basic essentials for both men and women more accessible. This will be a strong differentiator as the pharmacy wars heat up with Amazon’s growing presence.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

Kudos to CVS for taking a lead on this issue.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

CVS should be lauded for going all-out on this initiative rather than just giving lip service. It’s great timing too as women’s health and equality are front-and-center globally.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

What do I think? Well, it’s about time and frankly, way overdue. As to what the root cause of the “pink tax” is it just might start with the fact that the industry has been historically controlled by men. Sorry, but unequal power and voice result in dumb policies like pink taxes.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

This is a smart move. I hope customers recognize CVS for their wisdom.

Natalie Walkley
BrainTrust
Natalie Walkley
Director, Körber & Enspire Commerce OMS
3 months 21 days ago

Slow clap for CVS. We have a long way to go for equality, but moves like this are inspiring for other brands and retailers to prioritize what is right over what is most profitable.

Mohamed Amer, PhD
BrainTrust

Bravo CVS! While the company may not be the first, its size and clout elevate the issue. When laws and regulations are primarily drafted by one segment of the population, it tends to ignore the lived experiences of the other segments. Historically, most of our laws were created by men, and we know the difficulties in updating the status quo.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

We seem to be confusing two separate issues here: the actual (sales) “tax,” and the (implied) claim that the goods are overpriced.

The first is relatively simple, complicated presumably by disagreement over whether they should be considered “grooming” items (taxable) or medical supplies (not taxable). I can’t add much other than to mention that when in doubt, it’s usually better to be conservative (i.e. the latter view).

As for the pricing issue, I have no knowledge — and haven’t seen any data put forth — that says the profits for these products are excessive … it seems part of a broader problem of people not having an income they can actually live on.

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