Interview Synopsis

WS Audiology – operational review & performance outlook

  • Multi Asset
  • Healthcare
  • Europe

WS Audiology, a global hearing aid provider, was formed after the 2019 merger of Sivantos and Widex. A recent Interview with a former senior executive from the company uncovered how the coronavirus pandemic has affected demand and other pressing issues facing the industry.

WS Audiology: COVID-19, customer synergy and competition from potential OTC entrants

With clinics closed and limited online sales, the industry has experienced a challenging year already – with the worst point touted as April. When asked about when a return to pre-coronavirus levels is expected, the specialist said looking at the psychology of customers was vital and explained how the overall coverage in markets dictates how people respond. 

Another way coronavirus is dampening consumer interest in hearing aids is via reduced socialising. “Being together with other people in noisy surroundings, that’s what drives the hearing instrument business, and if you’re not put into situations, you will absolutely hesitate”, which is especially the case for people needing their first one, the expert explained. 

One of the Interview’s topics included the Sivantos-Widex merger. Although the sector analyst pointed to a previous Interview with another expert in which some negative synergies were expected, the former senior executive believed that the pairing  “is almost a perfect match”. Alongside having little overlap of their customer bases, Sivantos would be able to share its experience with lithium-ion-based technology with Widex.

The conversation moved on to the question of whether product innovation could plateau. However, the specialist believes there are still numerous avenues to explore, giving WS Audiology’s lack of Android compatible brands as an example. What’s more, the specialist explained that there “are still a lot of problems with hearing instruments” and therefore plenty of scope for R&D departments to make advances. 

The US Food and Drug Administration is set to make its decision on over-the-counter hearing aids by August this year, which could see companies like Apple and Bose enter the market. Whether these companies pose a threat and could impact the route to market were also discussed.

To access all the human insights from Third Bridge Forum’s WS Audiology – Operational Review & Performance Outlook Interview, click here to view the full transcript.

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