Rumors have circulated within Connect Hearing of plans to offer a hearing aid for around $500 in 2018. Owned by Sonova, Connect Hearing is a nationwide retail chain that operates around 250 locations nationwide. Connect Hearing clinics now appear to be offering this new low-priced hearing aid, branded NovaSense Elite, for just $499. Looking at the images below, this product is strikingly similar to the Unitron Moxi hearing aid.
NovaSense Elite image (from Connect Hearing website)
Unitron Moxi Image (from Unitron)
This is interesting for a few reasons:
First, Sonova owns both Unitron and Connect Hearing so naturally we can assume they are in fact the same (or similar) device. Also, Unitron sells its hearing aids through independent hearing aid and audiology clinics across the world, many of which cannot even begin to compete with a $500 retail price point. In fact, we would not be surprised if the average wholesale price for a Unitron Moxi was higher than $499. According to the employee we spoke to, this hearing aid is the equivalent of the Moxi 500 level.
HearingPress spoke with an employee of Connect Hearing that was recently trained on the NovaSense Elite and this is what they had to say:
- The new product will have locked software unique to the NovaSense
- The software for the NovaSense hearing aids, according to this employee, is essentially Unitron software with different colors
- The $499 NovaSense is the equivalent to a Unitron Moxi 500
- The product will start out using the North platform, which is one platform behind Unitron's Tempus platform currently being offered. No word as to when/if it will be using the Tempus system
- Connect has been/will continue to close down underperforming locations
- Connect has plans of a "hub and spoke" strategy, where they open up part-time satellite offices around their main offices (the ones that are left after closing many of the current ones)
Time will tell how successful this promotion will be, but many questions remain about this initiative. Will this inject some life into a retail chain that appears to be struggling? Will this start the 'race to the bottom' for retail pricing in hearing aids? Will independent audiologists and hearing aid dispensers turn away from Sonova products because of this move? We invite your comments and reactions below.