August 10, 2021 | PRESS RELEASE

3 Strategies the Hearing Health Industry Can Borrow from Anti-Smoking Campaigns

With OTC category imminent, fresh marketing approaches can help erode societal stigma against hearing aids

NEW HAVEN, Conn., August 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/Auditory Insight, a leading consultancy for the hearing healthcare industry, analyzes successful anti-smoking campaigns for strategies to combat stigma against hearing aids, in a newly released Q3 Research Note.
Download the full Q3 Research Note: Addressing Hearing Loss Stigma Within the OTC Context.

With an expected FDA ruling creating a new category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, treatment may become significantly more affordable for many. Auditory Insight’s market analysis shows that stigma may be among the greatest barriers to overcome regarding consumer hearing aid adoption, currently at 15%.

“Fifty years ago, almost half of adults regularly smoked cigarettes. Today, society stigmatizes hearing aid use with the same potency that it once glamorized smoking,” observes Nancy M. Williams, president of Auditory Insight. “By implementing proven strategies from anti-smoking public health campaigns, the hearing healthcare industry should be able to transform the discourse surrounding stigma with hearing aid use.”

Applying Auditory Insight’s proprietary framework to analyze MarkeTrak data enables pinpointing the top reasons why individuals avoid using hearing aids. The main categories of consumers’ reasons when the survey was fielded in 2018 were:

  • Price (33%)
  • Denial (30%)
  • Stigma (21%)
  • Other (17%)

Note that responses in the “denial” category may be fueled by stigma, since some surveyed may feel uncomfortable admitting to concerns about appearance and/or stigma.

Since that survey was conducted, Costco, consumer electronics, and telehealth companies have introduced hearing devices for mild to moderate hearing loss that retail for significantly less than those sold through an audiologist or ENT clinic. Additionally, the FDA’s finalized rule will create a new category of OTC hearing aids that companies could potentially retail for around $500 a pair, 10% of the price currently charged by the average clinic.
To address stigma, the hearing healthcare industry would benefit from anti-smoking campaigns’ techniques. Auditory Insight’s analysis of those campaigns has identified three proven strategies to change consumer behavior:

  1. Deploy Shock Factor. Disturbing images and stories from former smokers who endured painful health conditions.
  2. Create Empowerment. Information, reinforcement, and support programs to help people create a sense of agency.
  3. Encourage Counter-Narratives. Alternative viewpoints to oppose stereotypes promoted by tobacco industry.
    “Each of these three strategies may be applied to reduce hearing aid stigma,” advises Williams. “For example, older adults may be encouraged to maintain their performance in the workplace by embracing hearing aids, empowering them to take action and preserve their effectiveness.”

Williams is available to elaborate on this analysis and discuss the importance of a creative approach to consumer education to eliminate hearing aid stigma.

About Auditory Insight
Auditory Insight
partners with senior leaders of hearing health device and pharmaceutical companies to develop effective commercialization strategies. The firm also advises growth equity and private equity funds on successful investing in hearing healthcare.

Media Contact
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