Listen up: The global hearing-aid market is primed for growth, according to a report by GBI Research, which produces business intelligence reports. The company estimates that the global hearing-aid market will increase from $7.2 billion in 2011 to $11.3 billion by 2018 at a compound annual growth rate of 7%.
In particular demand, the report notes, are miniature behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-canal (ITC), and completely in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids. Such devices are experiencing mounting popularity as users clamor for less-obvious and less-visible hearing aids that don't draw immediate attention to their impairment.
Behind-the-ear technologies have demonstrated an uptick in global sales, increasing from $2.77 billion in 2004 to $4.98 billion in 2011, the report states. It also notes that these hearing aids accounted for more than 69% of the global digital signal processing hearing-aids market in 2011. Improvements in the design and technology of the devices, to which the uptick is attributed, include enhancements in comfort, battery life, and ease of wear and removal. Additional factors in this growth include the rising elderly population, government healthcare initiatives, and the prevalence of acquired hearing loss. The latter is often blamed on the trend of listening to loud music.
R&D in the hearing-aid market is increasingly focused on miniaturization of the devices as well as improving such features as sound quality, speech intelligibility, comfort, and aesthetics.