1.1 The hearing aid market
A hearing aid is a medical prosthesis intended for people with a hearing impairment and allowing certain sounds to be amplified according to the needs encountered
Historically, the first modern hearing aids appeared at the beginning of the 20th century with the invention by the Sonotone company of the first earphone in 1929. Hearing aids then became portable and increasingly discreet, particularly with the use since the end of the 1990s of smaller and more efficient microprocessors .
The hearing aid market can be divided into three product categories, namely :
- The intra-auricular prostheses ;
- The contour prostheses that make the user's BTE;
- The prostheses with earphone in the conduit whose microphone is placed in the ear canal to reduce the size of the outer casing.
The global hearing aid market is experiencing a steady increase with the number of units sold increasing. The market is concentrated around a few international players
The french market displays a continuous expansion for several years, driven in part by an aging population and increasingly efficient technologies, although the price may still represent a barrier to purchase . The RAC 0 ("zero charge remainder") desired by the Government should, however, encourage a development on this particular point.
The market is organized around numerous specialized sales outlets s, sometimes independent, throughout the national territory, competing with the diversification of the activity of optical players and by some pharmacies
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