In an interesting turn of events Blamey and Saunders of Australia has been purchased by Sonova outright. Blamey and Saunders are a fascinating business that were one of the first online hearing aid sellers that we at Hearing Aid Know felt confident to support. What does the sale mean though and why has Sonova chosen to purchase? Let’s take a look at the story.
Online Sales, Then a Blended Model
As I said, Blamey and Saunders were one of very few online sellers of hearing aids that we would support. That support was always based on the fact that both the devices and and the infrastructure supporting them were designed for online sales.
While the business was successful, it became obvious to them that a purely online model wasn’t going to serve the population they were trying to reach. They then made the decision to move towards a blended model, one where many of their customers bought online and got on with it, but others could purchase online and visit a bricks and mortar outlet to have them fitted or for follow up.
I said quite a while ago that this type of blended model made perfect sense, but only really in the context of their device offering and infrastructure. There were persistent rumours that the company was finding it difficult to be profitable, mainly because of the cost of device manufacture which had to be undertaken in Australia and never really reached a profitable scale. So from that point of view, a sale makes perfect sense.
I think that many of the big publicly owned brands are looking towards a future of changing times. Sonova is one of the biggest in the business and they need to cover all possible market channels and strategies moving forward.
The purchase of Blamey and Saunders really does two things, for the Blamey and Saunders business, it brings the scale and purchasing power it needs to succeed moving forward. For Sonova, it buys them expertise and a working blended channel.
Blended is Probably the future
Myself and others have spoken about the possible futures for the hearing aid business model. I said not so long ago that I believed that if hearing aid brands went direct to consumer that the profession would still play a part in the model.
Likewise, I believe that if the major hearing aid brands release OTC devices in the short term. It could be that we could play a major role in that as well. Moving forward, it seems to me that Sonova at least see a blended model as a possible route forward. I would tend to agree with them.
I don’t necessarily believe that it will be the only show in town though. I think it will probably be just one more channel. The next few years will be fascinating.