Our Director of Marketing, Matthew Traywick, sat down with Phil M. Jones, speaker, author, and entrepreneur, to discuss topics regarding current events in the hearing aid industry. We took a look at the possible future of hearing aid technology, and how over-the-counter hearing aids could impact both consumers and providers. As a disclaimer, this interview is based strictly upon opinon and should not be taken as an offering of medical advice. If you are interested in learning more about hearing aids and if they could help you, we highly encourage you to visit your local audiologist. Now, let’s jump into part one of this interview!
We are here today with Phil M Jones. We’ve got a couple of questions for you. So starting off, how do you think OTC hearing aids will impact the industry?
My thoughts on OTC hearing aids are an interesting addition to our marketplace. In that what they do is they’re going to bring accessibility towards the devices to people who have perhaps been price prohibitive in the past. My viewpoint is that it’s going to be very similar to creating the differential in a marketplace like what’s happened in a number of different areas. So, in the same way the Smile Direct in the clear retainers or the invisible retainers industry provides a contrast to the Invisalign product dispensed by orthodontists. I think the OTC product pace can perhaps have more people thinking about the idea of treating hearing loss. My belief is also that the differentiator in the marketplace will start to create a need within consumers for them to decide, “is it a product that I’m looking for that will help me to be able to hear better or am I looking for a genuine long-term solution in working with an advanced medical practitioner who can help support them over a sustained period of time.”
So the insertion of something new into the marketplace is actually going to help further educate customers and patients as to the fact that they have choices and allow them to be able to see the increased value proposition of people who’ve been long term in the industry. I think another thing that we will see when OTC does show up is it might result in a number of people. I’m going to take a look at the OTC offering first and then showing up to other providers and asking the question: “what’s the difference?” So I do think it’s an important time for providers across the industry to get clear in helping consumers understand the difference between working with a hearing care practitioner and just picking up an OTC device from wherever it’s being dispensed.
So you spoke a little on the consumers side there and touched a little bit on the providers as well. Do you think, or, how do you think the market will shift to be more cost-oriented competing with OTC?
Yeah, I think it’s a good question. And I think the market as a whole is going to move in a variety of different directions. I think price has always been a differentiator in the hearing care marketplace and we’ll continue to be able to do so, but we are going to have to do a better job of saying, of answering the story of price fall and what else, what else am I paying for here rather than just the widget. So it is going to mean the providers in this industry are going to have to have a very clear value proposition of what they provide outside of technology alone. And I think what we’re going to actually see is a wider spread in pricing through the industry and more clearly articulated list of benefits so that consumers can understand what the difference is. I mean, the best example I can look for as an analogy to try and help understand this is looking at something like even as simple as the coffee industry.
Ten, 15 years ago there was coffee, coffee or coffee. And today what we have is we have a plethora of different ranges of coffee from the dollar cup of coffee you can pick up at a fuel station through to people looking for it to be spliced and diced in a multiple number of ways and ethically sourced and served by somebody with a cute, hipster mustache and charging six and a half bucks for it. So the introduction of OTC products in the marketplace I think is going to actually create a broader and a wider price aligned marketplace, bringing consumers alongside that whole storytelling piece so that they understand that there is a difference between all the different levels so that they can then move forward with hearing care.
Phil Jones has some very interesting insights, but our interview isn’t finished just yet! Stay tuned for the second part of our interview with Phil Jones where we speak more about various pricing models and how that can affect consumers and providers. Be sure to follow us on social media to stay up-to-date with the latest hearing aid news!