Hearing aid and coin batteries are outperforming other battery segments. Fueled by an aging population that is more willing than ever before to wear hearing aids, the hearing aid battery segment has continued to grow over the last several years.
"Improved technology and the changing needs of the aging population are leading more people with hearing loss to do something about it," said Ramon Velutini, brand manager for Duracell NA. "Ten years ago, 1-in-5 people with hearing loss used a hearing aid. Now that percentage has grown to 1-in-4."
Continuous innovation also is boosting the category. "The more sophisticated devices become, the more power they need," said Ann Rule, director of marketing for Spectrum Brands, manufacturer of Rayovac batteries, which holds the global leader position in hearing aid battery sales, according to the company. "Our new batteries are developed in lockstep with manufacturer innovations in devices. Since performance is crucial in this segment, we are continually improving performance," she added. Rayovac will introduce a new generation of hearing aid battery this fall.
Unlike alkaline batteries, a segment in which a significant percentage of sales are impulse driven, the hearing aid and coin segments are a destination category. "Hearing aid batteries are a planned purchase, so retailers have to be sure to have a good assortment of the four types of batteries used in hearing aids, and retailers need to have the products displayed where consumers are shopping," Velutini said.
Retailers should display the products near the pharmacy and at the front of the store. "Retailers want to capture this aging consumer. The strategy doesn't have to be complicated, but the product has to be easy to find," Rule said.
Spinner racks in the battery department can help extend limited shelf space. Better point-of-purchase signage also could help steer consumers to the appropriate battery choice. "We have to make sure we are serving all hearing aid consumers, from people with older devices to new models," Rule said. "We talk on-shelf about improved performance, but we don't want to confuse shoppers with packaging changes that aren't necessary."
Packaging innovations play a big part in the category, since packaging needs to be child-resistant to prevent children from ingesting the tiny batteries, yet easy enough for seniors to open without difficulty.
Energizer recently introduced Energizer EZ Turn & Lock Hearing Aid Batteries, which are long-lasting, recyclable batteries packaged in a dial dispenser that is easy to turn but locks batteries in place for storage before use. Duracell's EasyTab also addresses the issue.
The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Battery Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.