MarkeTrakVIII: Consumer Satisfaction Increasing
Kochkin (2010) reports that some 34.25 million people in the United States have hearing impairment. Hearing aid “adoption” rates are approximately 1 in 4. This particular report (within the MarkeTrak VIII series) focuses on the consumer's experience with hearing aids, all of which are less than four years old. Three thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine (3,789) extensive (7-page) surveys were mailed out, 3,174 were returned, representing an amazingly high 84 percent response. The average age of the hearing aid owners was 71 years (same as was found in 2004), 60 percent of respondents were male, the average household income was $58,400, 64 percent of respondents were married and 66 percent of respondents were retired. Eighty-nine percent of respondents report a bilateral hearing loss. Seventy-eight percent of all respondents are fitted binaurally. Forty-seven percent of all fittings are BTE and 25 percent of all fittings are open fit or RITE mini-BTEs.
Ten factors have been identified that contribute to “overall hearing aid satisfaction.” They are rank ordered and abstracted here from most to least important:
- Overall benefit
- Clarity of sound
- Value (performance per price)
- Natural sounding
- Use in noisy situations
- Ability to hear in small groups
- Comfort with loud sounds
- Sound of voice/occlusion
Kochkin’s comprehensive MarkeTrak VIII report states: Customer satisfaction with hearing aids in 2008 was reported as 74 percent (up from 55 percent in 2000), satisfaction with new hearing aids (less than one year old) has increased further to some 81 percent. Hearing aids "in the drawer" has been reduced to 7.5 percent in 2008 (see Table 2, page 22), 82 percent of consumers would recommend hearing aids to their friends (very consistent since 1991), yet only 48 percent would re-purchase the same brand/manufacturer. On average, hearing aids are worn 9.5 hours daily.
With regard to product features: 9 in 10 consumers are satisfied regarding the ease of battery change, fit and comfort satisfied 87 percent and ease of hearing aid insertion/removal satisfied 85 percent. Volume controls (VCs) continue to be an issue; ease of volume adjustment was satisfactory to only 60 percent—and for those without VCs, 44 percent reported they wanted a VC.
Clearness and the sound of their hearing aids were rated satisfactory by 77 percent of respondents, own voice was satisfactory for some 73 percent, 71 percent are satisfied with directionality and about 61 percent report satisfaction in noisy situations. Ninety-one percent of consumers are satisfied with the hearing aid's ability to improve communication in one-on-one situations, 85 percent are satisfied in small groups, and 80 percent are satisfied while watching TV.
For additional information and for the complete and comprehensive MarkeTrak VIII analysis, see:
Kochkin S. (2010) MarkeTrak VIII: Consumer Satisfaction with Hearing Aids Is Slowly Increasing. Hearing Journal. 63(1):19-32.