Startup cuts prices on feminine products to protest 'pink tax'

Do women pay more than men for similar products?
Do women pay more than men for similar products?

One startup is putting its foot down on "tampon tax" and "pink tax."

Boxed Wholesale -- an online Costco (COST)-like retailer -- is cutting the prices of tampons and pads by 9% and reducing the cost of other female hygiene items. The move is a part of a larger call for manufacturers and lawmakers to repeal the taxes.

"Tampon tax" refers to the sales taxes placed on feminine products. Most states add sales tax from 5% to 9% for tampons and sanitary napkins because they're considered nonessential.

Meanwhile, "pink tax" is the name given to the high prices companies charge for female targeted products such as shampoos and deodorants compared to male equivalents.

Boxed customers will still have to pay the sales tax in certain states, but the company's discount could help offset that cost. Other items such as razors and shaving creams will receive discounts depending on what Boxed pays upfront for the items.

A list of its reduced price items are now on its new "#RethinkPink" page.

boxed rethink pink
Screenshot of Boxed's new "Rethink Pink" product page. (Oct. 6, 2016)

Related: 'Pink tax' angers women from New York to London

A late 2015 study of gender pricing in New York City found, on average, products for women cost 7% more than those for men. This includes products such as clothing and personal and healthcare products.

In February, an online petition against British pharmacy chain Boots forced the company to cut some of its prices after activists pointed out gender pricing discrepancies.

Earlier this year, New York and Illinois repealed the tampon tax.

Related: Why women pay more than men for the same stuff

Nitasha Mehta, an associate marketing director at Boxed, said she felt troubled by the issue after watching a Bud Light Equal Pay ad with Amy Schumer.

"I looked at products on our own site and found pretty significant price variances," she told CNNMoney.

Mehta went to Boxed's executive team to see what they could do.

"They were extremely supportive," Mehta said. "It's just such an important issue. As women, all of us are affected by this."

While Boxed may lose money on some products such as razors, it won't take "a loss overall," she said. "The majority of that [shopping] basket will be margin positive."

Boxed hopes the effort will inspire other retailers such as Target and Walmart to cut their prices on feminine products. Ultimately, it aims for a legislation change.

"Our sole goal in this initiative is to spark a bigger conversation," said Mehta.

Boxed has made a name for itself for its "socially responsible" management practices and corporate policies. CEO Chieh Huang has paid out of pocket for some of his employee's children to go to college. In the spring, the company started paying for employees' weddings.

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