According to a new hearing device report by iData Research, the United States hearing aid market is still growing and will continue to grow until 2018. Open fit devices and RICs are growing in market share, but cochlear implant sales may increasingly take market share away from all hearing aid devices.

The iData report, “Markets for Hearing-Aids and Audiology Devices,” provides an analysis of the wholesale and retail hearing-aid market by style, circuit, and battery size, and includes market research findings on cochlear implants, direct drive implants, otoscopes, OAE and ABR analyzers, audiometers, tympanometers, and real ear analyzers. A 2012 “U.S. Audiologist Product Preference & Use Survey” is also available.

According to a summary press release, IData’s analysts say that growth of the American hearing device market is largely dependent on technological innovations that are offered by manufacturers and the growing aging population of Baby Boomers. They also note that while many people are experiencing some degree of hearing loss, only a minor portion of this population is currently purchasing hearing aids. Thus, they conclude that the market remains at only a fraction of its potential size.

iData notes that sales of open-fit and receiver-in-canal (RICs) devices have grown rapidly and a driver in shifting patient preference away from BTEs. According to Kamran Zamanian, CEO of iData, “The advantages of open-fit hearing aid devices have propelled sales, as patients have benefited from the discreet design; however, open-fit and receiver-in-canal unit growth will largely parallel increases in the overall hearing aid market once saturation occurs.”

Within the next few years, IData says that manufacturers of RICs will continue to capture unit share from traditional BTE manufacturers. However, the report also predicts that within the in-the-ear (ITE) segment, completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids will gain popularity due to the release of invisible ITE hearing aids.

Also of note, mid-level priced hearing aids are expected to account for 23% of all hearing aids sold within the next 5 years.

Another significant finding is that cochlear implants may soon begin to displace hearing aid sales. Currently, hearing aid sales account for 87% of the market. However, iData expects that number to decline “in double digits of the total market by 2018.” The reason, according to the report, is that hearing aid market growth will not keep up with the rapid growth of the bone-anchored and cochlear implant segments.

With a quarter of the overall hearing aid market, Phonak comprises the largest portion of the hearing aid and audiology device market, according to the iData report. “They have substantially increased their market share since 2006 as a result of their acquisition of large group practices,” noted Zamanian in the press release. He added, “Phonak is a company that, according to iData’s latest statistically significant audiologist survey, represents technological innovation, high quality products/services, market leadership, and high brand value which makes them one of the most preferred hearing aid brands among audiologists.”

SOURCE: iData Research