Sonova bullish in China’s hearing aid market

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Visitors learn about Sonova products at a promotional event in Beijing in October. [Photo/Xinhua]

Swiss company Sonova Holding AG, the world’s largest hearing solutions provider, said it had experienced above-average sales growth in China over the past six months, fueled by growing demand for related products in the country, especially since the COVID-19 outbreak, as booming online interaction has driven demand for hearing aid devices and solutions.

Sonova said that during the time of the pandemic, video calling and the use of smartphones and tablets to communicate with each other played a vital role. In mid-November, the company reported better-than-expected half-year earnings, citing a strong recovery amid a pandemic and other headwinds.

From April to September, Sonova’s worldwide revenue was 1.6 billion Swiss francs ($ 1.74 billion), up 50% from its performance in the same period of the last year, exceeding analysts’ estimates.

Compared to pre-pandemic levels in the first half of fiscal 2019-2020, this year’s sales grew 17.7% in local currencies, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in two. years of 8.5% globally. In China, Sonova said it hit a double-digit CAGR over two years, but did not disclose specific numbers.

“In China, we have built a direct-to-consumer sales team of about 30 people based in Shanghai, and they are working with Tencent and Alibaba to reach more people about hearing aids online and help raise awareness among the public,” said Arnd Kaldowski, Managing Director of Sonova.

“For the company, there are obviously very important opportunities to expand in China and reach more people on hearing loss solutions. It is important for us to educate consumers. In addition, we need to continuously train experts who can treat hearing loss. problems, ”he said.

Sonova has so far this year said it has opened 15 new physical stores in China. For these more advanced and sophisticated hearing aids and cochlear systems, the company recorded higher sales growth in the country.

The World Health Organization has estimated that there are more than 460 million people worldwide who suffer from hearing loss. By 2050, that number is expected to reach 900 million.

According to a WHO projection for the population of China, the number of people aged 65 and over with hearing difficulties in China is expected to exceed 50 million this year. In an increasingly aging society, the number of older people at risk of hearing loss may increase further.

However, the rate of hearing aid use is quite low in China. About 60 to 80 percent of people with hearing loss problems do not use hearing aids, according to a survey by the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association.

“Our main consumer groups in China include pediatric patients who need hearing solutions because the problem could have a profound impact on their lives, and reimbursement tends to be good,” Kaldowski said.

For children, wearing hearing aids might provide an opportunity for others to make fun of them, and Sonova said she needs to be aware of the issue and take it into account when designing related products.

People with advanced age hearing loss usually start with mild symptoms. Then it could progress to moderate and profound hearing loss. The average age of those who tend to buy hearing aids around the world is 70 years old. After 50 years, people should start taking hearing tests, the company said.

Sonova said it has made significant investments in China. In Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, its factory exports a large number of hearing aids to the world market. It is also developing more medical solutions around sensor technology and evaluating the integration of artificial intelligence in hearing aids.

In addition, Sonova said that she will review and decide to participate in the annual China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai in the future.


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