Hearing Healthcare Meets the Modern Consumer
AudiologyOnline: You said consumer. Didn’t you mean patient?
Shannon Basham: Well, yes, and no. I know, as an audiologist, thinking in terms of consumer vs patient is sometimes uncomfortable. But I also understand that treating hearing loss, often involves a purchase decision and patients are ultimately consumers. So, embracing a consumer approach to patient care will help us satisfy not only the audiological needs of patients but also serve the retail mindset of today’s consumer. And this is the reason I find this topic so compelling.
We generally like to explore factors that influence hearing aid adoption, like the nature and degree of hearing loss, age, gender identification, and socio-economic status. We have even dug a bit deeper and looked at who attends appointments and the importance of having the right narrative around treatment, so why wouldn’t we want to consider other factors that may influence purchase decisions? Each year, I like to explore the top 10 global consumer trends. They typically have really fun names, like “Rural Urbanites” and “Phygital Reality”, but I always find that the trends are super interesting and quite relevant to what we do.
AudiologyOnline: Where do you find these trends?
Shannon Basham: Each year a group, Euromonitor International does extensive consumer research to understand global consumerism. They are one of the world's leading providers of global business intelligence, market analysis, and consumer insights. They identify emerging trends that are expected to gain traction and develop in the year ahead. These trends provide insight into changing consumer values by exploring how consumer behavior shifts and causes disruption for all types of businesses globally. Businesses use this type of information to help plan for the upcoming market conditions.
AudiologyOnline: What are some of the trends that you find relevant to Audiology and hearing health?
Shannon Basham: Actually all 10 can be drawn back to the way we do business and how we best support our patients and communities. But, sure, some are more obvious than others. From this year’s list, three of them, in particular, stand out to me: Authentic Automation, Revived Routines, and Budgeteers. I can give you a quick peek into what drives each of these trends:
- Authentic Automation: Humans and machines need to work in-sync and we shouldn’t be too reliant on technology.
- Revived Routines: We are continuing to make up for time spent in pandemic lockdowns.
- Budgeteers: People must decide between paying more for everyday essentials. This drives a need for affordable flexible options like “Buy Now Pay Later”.
AudiologyOnline: What can we do to support these groups of patients with these consumer mindsets?
Shannon Basham: There are so many simple steps that we can implement in our daily practices that would meet our patients where they are. We must start with mindfulness. We must embrace change ourselves and realize that as purpose-driven professionals we have to enhance the overall experience. For example, a few things we can quickly implement:
- Authentic Automation: Automation is, has been and will be part of hearing healthcare and with Phonak the perfect example is Autosense 5.0. When counseling and recommending technology, highlight the importance of the symbiotic relationship between tech and the person reaping the benefits of automation.
- Revived Routines: Technology like Remote Support helped during the pandemic by providing great service while staying safe, but it doesn’t end there. While we are getting back out there, where and how matters. Offer flexible solutions to enhance the value of time spent and leverage Remote Support to create the right experience.
- Budgeteers: Now more than ever, individuals who might require coaching and guidance might be seduced by low-cost options. To remain competitive in this landscape, we must double down on efforts to make sure our services are socialized, right-sized, and embrace all parts of the patient journey.
AudiologyOnline: Is it simple to identify the trend driving an individual patient? How do I know which trend I’m working with?
Shannon Basham: When we talk about trends and segmentation, we tend to imagine a persona that exemplifies the trend. So, the best advice is to first know the trends that are out there, to recognize the characteristics, and then workshop in your practice and try to bring these tones up in your needs assessments and counseling narratives.
AudiologyOnline: It seems difficult to be all things to all people. How do you meet everyone’s mindset?
Shannon Basham: More and more we are realizing the importance of patient centered care. Everyone has a unique hearing journey, and we need to be touching on the emotional triggers that move hearing healthcare away from solely selling products to wholistic personalized solutions. This is like a good investment portfolio, diversify, diversify, diversify. You should be considering the full experience from the very first touchpoint all the way through aftercare and follow-up. For sure, it would be impossible to be all things to all people, but I know we can all certainly agree that the one-size fits all approach to hearing healthcare would not even begin to suit the needs of today’s patient.
AudiologyOnline: Ultimately, how do you see this information helping patients?
Shannon Basham: Remember, a patient is a person, is a consumer, is a human being. The one constant is that regardless of which term, we continuously evolve. By knowing the emerging trends, we all play a part in anticipating changes, which ultimately drives better and more efficient outcomes. Working with Phonak for the past 15 years, I have witnessed how key solutions address the most challenging listening situations. Driven by a heritage of audiological expertise, Phonak has spent over 75 years using information just like these trends to innovate with purpose and give patients access to the most desirable and effective individualized solutions. As we internalize these current trends, we can leverage so much more of the human experience to inspire those who need hearing care to get it, use it, and ultimately enhance their lives. There is always art and science, a yin and yang, needed to successfully treat hearing loss and these trends help all of us in the professional sector strike that necessary balance. To that end, the information in these trends provides valuable perspective and insight as we look at all areas of the market and continue to drive hearing performance, ease of use, and convenience for today’s patients or rather the modern hearing healthcare consumer.
If you’d like more information on Phonak please visit www.phonak.com
Angus, A., & Westbrook, G. (2023, January 17). What are the top 10 consumer trends in 2023? Euromonitor International. https://www.euromonitor.com/article/what-are-the-top-10-consumer-trends-in-2023