February 23, 2022

Hearing Ageism is alive and well

As anyone in business knows, marketing is a science supported by research with studies galore telling you what you should and shouldn’t do in the quest to attract customers to your business.  There are marketing gurus who ‘know it all’ and claim to have every answer to how to attract your target audience. The list of books on the newsstand, courses to attend, and articles to read could keep you occupied for the next 100 years.

Now, while I don’t profess to be an expert on all-matters marketing, I’d like to think I understand people and, in particular, those who place their trust in our professional abilities.  Many years ago, I asked those clients who had selected our Practice to tell us why they had chosen our services. The answers were enlightening and paved the way for us regarding how we should position our messaging to resonate better with the clientele we were hoping to attract.

As a result, our approach to marketing is in direct opposition to the common methods employed elsewhere in the hearing industry. Our Practice continues to attract a diverse range of people of all ages, from all walks of life, and where there are no geographical boundaries to visiting us.

A quick check shows the current median age of our clients is 59 years… which is why I was amazed to hear this week several intensely patronizing radio adverts for hearing aids targeted at, how should I put this… the very much older person… It amazes me how ageist marketing still exists with all those clever studies to help inform us. 

Marketing that restricts hearing issues to the elderly has so many repercussions. It limits many from asking for help because they don’t recognise themselves in the marketing material. (Fact: I remember one 20-year-old who asked if she was old enough to have her hearing tested! How sad is it that the marketing messages used by the hearing aid industry made one individual feel she wasn’t able to ask for help.). Ageist marketing alienates those who the advertisers believe they are reaching and attempting to attract because it’s well known we don’t view ourselves as old as we actually are. Humans are social animals and we tend to gravitate to a self-view of someone who is younger than our actual age –  studies support our subjective age as eight years younger than our actual chronological age.

Each of us, whether we realise it or not and whatever age we are, has a self-image. And increasingly, and correctly, that image is not of an old person. So why does the hearing aid industry believe they need to identify their clients as such?

Such images and messages alienate some, and repel others because they fail to recognise themselves. Health and well-being should be a focus for us all if we are to live rich and full lives, staving off the effects of aging. More and more of us are refusing to give in to the traditional convention of aging as we embrace our lives for longer.  Marketing which perpetuates the pernicious mistruth that hearing aids are the preserve of the elderly has missed the point.

It doesn’t have to be this way…