According to statistics generated by the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), Washington, DC, hearing aid net sales in the United States grew to 3.36 million units in 2015, a 7.17% increase over the 3.13 million units dispensed in 2014. For the first time since 2006, private sector unit growth exceeded that of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Private sector unit sales in 2015 grew by 7.83%, totaling 2.65 million units, compared to 4.77% (710,223 units, or 21.15% of the total US market) for the VA.
The fourth quarter (Q4) marked strong growth for the private-sector, with a 8.25% increase in sales compared to Q4 2014. The VA increased its unit dispensing activity by 2.33% during the same period. Total hearing aid unit sales grew by 6.98% in Q4 2015, compared to similarly strong growth during (7.28%) in Q4 2014.
Sales were steady throughout the year, according to the HIA statistics. Compared to the previous quarters in 2014, the market gained 11.32% in unit sales during Q1; 6.53% in Q2; 4.23% in Q3, and 6.98% in Q4.As mentioned in previous market analyses, it is not known how much private sector growth can be directly attributed to the market gains of Costco and other Big Box retailers. The Hearing Review estimates Costco’s US market share at around 11%, with the retailer’s year-on-year unit growth increasing at an estimated 20-25% pace during the past 5-6 years. However, the growth in the market is almost certainly not confined to Costco, as other major manufacturers and retailers have also reported exceptional sales growth during the year.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids continue to dominate industry sales, constituting 78.7% of the total market, and 79.7% of private-sector sales. As a sub-class of BTEs, receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) and receiver in the ear (RITE) devices accounted for 63.7% of the total hearing aid market. By comparison, in 2014, RIC/RITE aids made up 58.0% of the market. Similarly, hearing aids featuring wireless technology continue to grow in popularity. In 2015, the use of wireless hearing aids increased to 87.5% from 82.0% in 2014.