Walgreens now sell hearing aids in select stores
Walgreens have partnered with Connect Hearing to sell hearing aids in a small number of Walgreens stores as a trial to see if dispensing from big-brand pharmacies is a viable business model. Connect Hearing is owned by Sonova, the Swiss hearing aid manufacturer, which owns the Phonak and Unitron hearing aid brands.
In response to a HearingHealthMatters articles about this partnership, Sonova’s Michael Issac confirmed that Walgreens stores in Dallas, Phoenix, Orlando and Chicago had been selected for the trial. He also said that no decision had been made as to whether a wider rollout would take place.
Having a hearing care centre in high-street stores is common here in the UK – the Boots pharmacy chain have a large number of shops with a hearing aid dispenser section, which are run by Sonova. Specsavers, traditionally a glasses dispenser, also have a large number of stores with an in-house audiologist and have a competitively-priced selection of white label haring aids branded as their own (I believe they are Phonak but don’t know for sure).
Sonova had previously partnered with Costco but that didn’t go so well for them and they ended up posting lower profits and annoying independent hearing aid dispensers, their traditional sales outlet. It is interesting that they are trying again and it is possibly a nod towards the future of hearing aid purchasing.