Strategy and businesses
Hearing instruments business
Sonova’s vision of a world in which everyone enjoys the delight of hearing is brought alive through the distinct and complementary strategies of each of our hearing instrument brands.
Phonak is the industry’s technology innovation leader, delivering the broadest portfolio of life changing hearing solutions. It is a brand that breaks boundaries, consistently launching breakthrough technology and establishing new industry standards and benchmarks with pioneering hearing and wireless communication solutions.
Unitron works closely with hearing care professionals to delight all consumers by delivering the most individualized hearing experience in the market. Its Flex™ ecosystem of technologies, services, and programs is designed to make the process of buying and using a hearing aid easy, personal, and empowering.
Hansaton focuses on a selected group of independent audiologists, in particular in Germany and France. It builds trusted, collaborative relationships with its customers and offers bespoke and exclusive solutions that support optimal hearing for consumers.
Every consumer is individual, and the structure of the hearing care market reflects the diversity of consumers’ needs and lifestyles. There is no single best path to reach them. Our three compelling and distinct brands give us the breadth to offer optimal solutions through multiple channels, from independent audiologists and large store networks, through government healthcare institutions, to Sonova’s own retail business.
At the same time, we rapidly share technical innovation, operational best practice, and new ways of engaging consumers across our business. Whether in products, paths to market, or eSolutions, our goal is to offer consumers the innovation and efficiency of an industry leader, with the individuality and comforting experience of personal service.
Key areas of activity
We believe that innovation should enrich and simplify consumers’ lives, with each technological step-change opening up new possibilities through powerful and easy-to-use hearing solutions. In the past year, all three of our brands have introduced new standard-setting advances that reflect this philosophy.
With the launch of the Audéo™ B-Direct Receiver-In-Canal hearing aid, Phonak set a new benchmark: a hearing aid offering direct connectivity to the vast majority of cell phones, which use the standard Bluetooth® classic protocol1. Until now, direct cell phone connectivity was restricted to hearing aid users whose phones use the Apple® iOS™ operating system – less than 20% of today’s smartphone market2, even though a vast majority of people today own Android™ smartphones or older feature phones. Now, thanks to Sonova’s unique SWORD™ Made For All wireless technology, virtually all hearing aid users –irrespective of what type of phone they own – have the potential to enjoy true hands-free calling, as well direct TV streaming with excellent sound quality. The SWORD chip opens up the potential for new services and solutions: for radio, music, video calls, and audiobooks; for virtual assistants; for remote support and adjustment; for accessible, personalized service, available whenever needed. SWORD bridges the final few meters between the ear and the digital world.
Phonak has announced the extension of its latest-generation Belong platform with the Phonak Naída™ B power and Phonak Sky™ B pediatric hearing aids. The addition of the rechargeable Naída B-R, Sky B-PR, and CROS B-R (a solution for single-sided deafness) gives professionals the flexibility to offer the industry’s most comprehensive rechargeable suite of hearing solutions, ensuring the best possible care.
Unitron continued to build on its very successful Tempus platform with the launch of Moxi™ All, the first and only rechargeable hearing aid with direct connectivity to any Bluetooth® phone. Reflecting Unitron’s core philosophy of putting consumer needs first, Moxi All is the only hearing aid on the market to offer both of the most asked-for ease-of-use benefits in a hearing aid: the freedom from having to change batteries and the ability to enjoy phone conversations without a body-worn streamer.
This year, Hansaton launched its new SphereHD™ technology platform, including rechargeable options. Thanks to high speed detection, precise automatic program selection, and innovative speech and localization features, SphereHD helps wearers experience their acoustic environments as naturally as possible.
- with Bluetooth® 4.2 wireless technology and most older Bluetooth phones.
- Bamiduro, W., & van der Meulen, R. (2018, March 13). Gartner Says Worldwide Sales of Smartphones Recorded First Ever Decline During the Fourth Quarter of 2017 [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3859963
Sonova’s hearing instruments business holds a leading position in the world’s key markets. We have broad geographic coverage: our own wholesale companies serve over 30 countries, representing over 90% of the global hearing care market, and our distributors bring the total to over 100 countries. Our multi-channel, multi-brand strategy covers the full spectrum of a diverse market, opening innovative paths to the consumer. The objective is to increase Sonova’s market share by implementing the best targeted approach for each market.
Sonova enjoys a leading position in the independent audiologist market. We help independents to best serve consumers by offering the broadest range of solutions, including specialty solutions such as pediatric, severe to profound, and custom products. We also support independents to secure their market position by providing marketing support and value-added services.
Multinational chains have been outpacing market growth in recent years, representing the fastest-growing segment in the market. Sonova has built a solid partnership with key players like Costco and Amplifon through its own brands as well as through bespoke private-label solutions, such as Costco’s recently launched Brio 3 product.
Large retail chains have a high degree of captivity, due to the expansion of manufacturers into the retail business. We have built selective relationships with large retail accounts, and aim to further expand our position in this segment by developing partnerships with new entrants, such as large optical chains. Furthermore, we protect and strengthen our market position in key countries by expanding our own retail business.
Globally, we hold a leading position in the government healthcare agency market. Sonova has reached around 40% market share in the key US Veterans Administration channel thanks to its exceptional service and product offering, such as rechargeable hearing aids. We have also established a solid standing with the UK’s NHS, the world’s largest buyer of hearing aids. Sonova continues to enhance its position in the government channel, especially in China, which promises the biggest potential in the Asian market.
Sonova’s eSolutions platform will increasingly help hearing care professionals deliver enhanced screening, coaching, monitoring, adjusting, and aftercare solutions. It is part of a growing range of digital health technologies designed to fulfill emerging consumer needs and create opportunities for hearing care professionals and manufacturers alike. We believe that offering an exceptional and seamless end-to-end experience, as eSolutions do, is increasingly responsible for success.
During this year, Phonak has been conducting a pilot study on remote real time hearing aid adjustment with the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans have a high incidence of hearing loss and are often also housebound, so this is a consumer base for whom remote consultation and adjustment is very important. The trial includes the new Audéo B-Direct, connecting directly to the Phonak eAssistance app, which then links via the internet with Phonak’s Target fitting software at the audiologist’s workplace, enhanced by video and chat functions. There has been strong interest in this solution from retailers, and we plan to launch in the near future a full commercial version for independent hearing care professionals and for larger retail formats, including Sonova’s own retail business.
Unitron’s unique Flex ecosystem includes the powerful capability to analyze hearing situations remotely through its Log It All function, which it combines with real time consumer insights collected via the user-friendly app, My Ratings. The combination gives consumers a strong, clear voice, sharing how they feel about their hearing aid performance right at the moment they are feeling it. And it gives hearing care professionals a wonderful opportunity to deepen engagement with consumers by providing a clear view of their in-the-moment perceptions of their hearing experience, backed by detailed data about their listening environment. The goal is better, more personalized hearing aid performance and richer, more detailed insight into consumers’ lifestyles and needs – insight which can help drive the next cycle of innovation.