A look back 40 years ago. In January 1973, Bent Simonsen and Ole Bogeskov, the president and marketing manager of Oticon (respectively), published an article in Hearing Dealer that summarized the world consumption of hearing aids. They estimated that there were 1.53 million hearing aids dispensed in 1971, and included a table of worldwide hearing instrument unit volume (table is reformatted and abbreviated from original article):

World hearing aid market (Simonsen & Bogeskov 1973). Modified for this story.

Worldwide, Simonsen and Bogeskov estimated that there were 0.43 hearing aids per 1,000 people in 1971. HR estimated the worldwide hearing aid market in 2010 at about 10 million units, or about 1.5 hearing aids per 1,000 people.

Largely due to changing regional definitions (ie, HR includes “Eastern Europe” with Europe in its industry calculations), the 2010 market share figures for Europe and North America have essentially switched places. In 2010, HR estimated that Europe accounts for about 38% of the worldwide market versus North America at 31%.  Although it’s difficult to estimate unit volumes in other regions, HR estimates that the “Far East/Oceana” region that includes China (as defined by HD), probably constitutes about 23% of today’s worldwide hearing aid market, Latin America 2-3%, the Near & Far East 3%, and Africa 2%. It should be noted that, by far, the so-called “BRIC nations” of Brazil, Russia, India, and China are the fastest growing world markets for hearing aids. Not only are these countries experiencing fast economic growth relative to other countries/regions, but in many cases their accelerating aging populations will ensure their place as prime targets for hearing industry growth. — KES