I’d guess women actually do tend to have a higher taste for quality and variety within this category of [regular] products. But I still doubt that women have higher taste for quality and variety overall. Instead it seems to me that the sorts of products that can have similar male and female versions tend to be lower-quality less-varied more-commodity-like sorts of products.
Women could have a higher taste for quality among lower quality products, and still have the same overall taste for quality, if women have less tolerance for variation in quality across product categories. That is, men may be more willing to save via lower quality in some areas, in order to pay for higher quality in other areas. In contrast, women may seek a more consistent level of quality across many product categories. Women may be more afraid someone will judge them badly from one particular unusually low quality category, while men may hope someone will judge them well from one particular unusually high quality category. This theory fits with many other results suggesting that men are and seek higher variance, and have less conformity.
His post is here.
I would offer the following (speculative) generalization. Guys are more likely to “just buy any usable sock,” whereas women are more likely to want “the right socks.” Therefore socks for guys end up being cheaper, because male price elasticity is higher.
Yet guys are more likely to spend a lot to buy the most expensive stereo system, or the most expensive car, or make the biggest charitable donation. There may not be coexisting “male” and “female” versions of these goods, as with pink vs. blue razors, but still the men pay big compared to the women.
The now-famous WaPo Danielle Paquette piece oversamples “regular goods” and undersamples the goods where males end up paying more. Therefore it looks like women are getting ripped off, but in reality we don’t know the net effect.
Bryan Caplan had a hand in this lunch discussion too, I ordered halal fish and chips, Bryan let me take his extra spinach.