Surprisingly, consumers do not pay much attention to their eyes and ears — that is until something goes wrong. Then, they cannot find enough products to solve their issues.
Now, manufacturers are hoping to change that, and some are launching intense marketing campaigns to help consumers maintain good eye and ear health, as well as offer relief from common issues. These companies are innovating and developing new products that solve problems that not only save consumers a trip to the doctor’s office, but drive these shoppers into stores.
Ear care has two audiences, industry representatives have often said. Baby boomers and older consumers who wear hearing aids suffer from ear wax buildup, so they are considered a prime target for new products. Also, millennials and Generation Z are wearing headphones and earbuds as they listen to their electronic devices, and the gadgets cause wax buildup.
These two audiences approach ear care differently. Elyse Dickerson, co-founder and CEO of Fort Worth, Texas-based Eosera, said the biotechnology company conducted extensive research and gained consumer insights about how adults in different age groups maintain ear health.
Have You Heard?
Some retailers also are embracing hearing tests, partly as a result of the passage of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017. Accessibility and affordability of hearing devices are big issues, and according to AARP, only 20% to 30% of adults who could benefit from a hearing aid ever get one. While the FDA is working on its rulemaking for the new category of OTC hearing devices, which will be available in 2020, companies are preparing.
One company, iHEAR Medical, offers a home hearing test. Founder and CEO Adnan Shennib said sales are increasing as retailers and consumers are both becoming aware of the new option of self-testing at home. “Being the first and only FDA-cleared home hearing test kit gave us the advantage of launching early in the OTC markets last year,” he said.
The company also makes personal sound amplification products. Shennib said that the future is very bright as more retail staff, pharmacists and consumers become aware of the new OTC hearing devices. “We are at the infancy stage of hearing products availability in retail stores,” he said. “This is potentially a huge market opportunity, in the range of $2 billion to $10 billion annually at the retail level.”