Factors Influencing Hearing Aid Purchase Intent

April 16, 2012

Cover0312HR small.jpgWhat would expedite non-adopters with hearing loss to adopt hearing aids? In the latest MarkeTrak VIII study (part 11) we presented 53 factors to more than 4,000 people with hearing loss and asked them to indicate the likelihood of hearing aid purchase if the "what if" scenario occurred. The data is presented for people with mild and moderate through severe hearing loss. Here are some of the highlights.

Penetrating the mild hearing loss population. As shown in an earlier publication only 9% of people with mild hearing loss adopt hearing aids compared to 40% of people with moderate-profound hearing loss and 65% of people with severe-profound hearing loss. With the exception of hearing instrument specialists, physicians, ENTs and audiologists are more likely to recommend against a hearing aid if the patient has a "mild" hearing loss. We may need to rethink our audiological labels of hearing loss as it pertains to hearing aid candidacy, since it may discourage those with mild hearing loss from seeking amplification for their hearing loss. Kochkin and Bentler (2010) demonstrated that consumers rate their hearing loss much worse than our audiological labeling would indicate.

Hearing loss recognition. More than half of non-adopters have not had their hearing tested in the last 10 years or never. The wide-scale use of precursor hearing checks such as BHI's Online Hearing Check could motivate people with hearing loss to seek out the services of a hearing health professional. We contend that problem recognition is an important precursor to problem resolution.

Reducing out-of-pocket costs. The top rated issue was third-party payment for hearing aids. If this were available the average aid of adopters would drop by 13 years.

Guarantees. The top rated product feature was a money back guarantee if the hearing aid did not provide benefit. This is an important issue to explore given the number of hearing aids in the drawer. Longer trial periods were rated relatively high and we also wonder how the inclusion of validation (pre/post) would impact non-adopter acceptance of hearing aids, especially if they knew how much benefit was achieved.

Desirable product features. Included: greater reliability in hearing aids and lower cost of repairs, no feedback/whistling, a volume control, greater comfort, and better sound quality.

Significant Influencer. The family doctor was rated the highest influencer.

Stigma. The top psychosocial issue was the desire for an invisible hearing aid.

Hearing aid utility. Of the listening situations measured, audibility of soft sounds rated the highest.

Financial well being. Improvements in the overall economy would stimulate demand but not the valuation of stock and bond portfolios.