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Cheaper hearing aid prices do not lead to more sales

I read a couple of very interesting articles on Hearing Review today: It’s Not Immoral to Increase Hearing Aid Prices in an Inelastic Market and Seven Rules for Thinking About Hearing Aid Pricing.

The first article talks about how a reduction in hearing aid prices does not lead to more people buying them, or, to quote directly from the article, “This means that changes in price will have little impact relative to the number of potential hearing aid users who enter your practice“. So, when we decide we want/need a hearing aid we are going to see an audiologist regardless of their prices. This article is purely from a dispensers point of view and is focused on profit margins, which is fair enough, businesses are run to make a profit after all.

Hearing aids may be an inelastic according to the studies mentioned in the article (inelastic just means prices aren’t affecting sales) but the price difference being quoted are a few hundred dollars taken off a $3000 hearing aid. They are saying that if they reduce the price from $3000 to $2700 then the sales don’t shoot up – no surprise at all because what was a hugely expensive purchase is still a hugely expensive purchase.

What I don’t like about this article is the assumption that it is OK to charge top-dollar to the people who have come into a practice. Someone attending a practice has decided that their hearing loss is affecting their quality of life enough to get something done about it – increasing the price of their purchase just because your patient numbers are low is not doing the patients you do have any favours at all.

Whereas differing hearing aid prices may not change the number of patients coming into practices it certainly will be effecting the look of total shock on the faces of those patients who have when they are told how much it will cost for them to hear.

The second article follows the same lines and talks about how practices should stress their value to patients in terms of quality hearing aids and services rather than driving down prices. I’ve written before about how we wrongly equate the quality of something to its price. The important thing to remember is that most of what you are paying for when buying a hearing aid is the service that comes with it, the actual hearing aid itself doesn’t cost much to produce. When comparing the price and value of one practice against the other you are really comparing the audiologists and how much their time is worth, not the hearing aids themselves.

I just cannot see how significantly lowering the prices of hearing aids to an affordable level would not increase sales. It may not increase profits but it would certainly increase sales and that may well be the problem!