Audientes, which specializes in selling cheap hearing aids to low-income countries, has entered into a partnership with Hearing Wellness Clinic (HWC), which is a chain of hearing centers in South India. From July, Audientes' self-adjusting devices will be sold at their 20 clinics.
This partnership comes shortly after Audientes launched a subsidiary company in Hyderabad, which is the sixth largest Indian city, with 10.2 million inhabitants.
The company in Hyderabad is the first of many future subsidiaries in India, and will be at the center of the commercialization of Audientes' hearing aid. According to the company, the price tag of USD 350 does not put the product out of reach of even the least-wealthy Indians.
"Ahead of the introduction of our self-adjusting hearing aid onto the Indian market, and in line with our strategy and roll-outs in the country, we have entered into an incredibly exciting partnership with Hearing Wellness Clinic, which is one of the leading hearing centers in Southern India within the sale and advice relating to high-quality hearing aids," says Steen Thygesen, CEO of Audientes, to MedWatch.
It is estimated that in India alone, over 75 million people live with dehabilitating hearing loss. Audientes aims to create a broad, country-wide sales platform in India, with departments in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata. It will target the growing middle class, which encompasses around 300 million consumers spread across major cities.
Increasing partner's client segment
Thygesen says that Hearing Wellness Clinic has 15 years of experience in selling high quality, optimal hearing solutions, and that their presence in over 20 locations across a number of cities makes them the perfect partner.
"The agreement with HWC is a manifestation of the potential of our product concept within established hearing aid sales channels, where Audientes' products adress an unmet need on the market," Thygesen says, suggesting the commercial potential is also significant.
"HWC is one of the biggest hearing aid chains in India, a market that is quite fragmented when it comes to retail. We will now collaborate with HWC in our efforts to reach as many users as possible, just like we expect to from similar partnerships elsewhere to to reach the most densely populated areas of the country."
Hearing Wellness Clinic is among the 10 biggest providers of hearing aids in India, and although they traditionally sell more expensive products, there is increasing demand for options on the cheaper end of the scale, which also require less support from stores to maintain.
"In other words, products with less complexity and that are faster to set up, which is very relevant to our self-adjusting product, with good quality at a good price. With our hearing aid, HWC can serve the customers they would otherwise have sent away to competitors or to find other solutions," says Thygesen.
Hearing Wellness Clinic also sells products from other brands, including Oticon, Demant's Sonic Innovations, Sonova's Phonak and Unitron, Siemens and Starkey, it states on its website.
Building bridges between online and clinical sales
Audientes, which was established in 2014, has a declared goal of working against the hearing industry dogma of high prices and the need for audiologists and regular adjustments at hearing clinics.
The company aims to achieve this through the use of wholesale channels, retail chains and direct sales to consumers through online sales. India is the world's second-largest e-trading market.
Measured by retail sales alone, India is the world's eighth-largest e-trading market, and online retail sales are expected to grow by around 30 percent annually over the next five years.
The significant shift in Indian online shopping has also led to a noteworthy rise within the e-healthcare industry, which is expected to be worth USD 16m in 2025, Thygesen reports.
"Alongside HWC, we will work intensively to introduce the product on the Indian market from Q3 this year. But we will also work together to build bridges between traditional sales at hearing clinics and e-commerce," he says.