Ernie Petrus is director of sales and marketing for Energizer, St Louis, one of the nations largest manufacturers and distributors of hearing aid batteries. Petrus recently spoke with The Hearing Review about a variety of industry topics, including technology trends, battery clubs, and packaging issues.
Q. What are some of the latest developments at Energizer?
A: We have really been focused on our E-Z Change hearing aid battery, especially from a marketing standpoint. The thing about this product that is interesting is that it is designed to last longer. That is what manufacturers have been trying to do with batteries, and what consumers keep saying they want. So we have been pleased with sales so far. On the retail side, the product has made a significant impact in its category. Also, we are about to launch a new battery that lasts up to 15% longer, and we are equally hopeful that it will succeed.
Q. How important is packaging, especially given that many users of hearing aids have dexterity issues?
A: Obviously that is extremely important, and that is why we started packaging our E-Z Change product in a different way: a larger package form that is much more convenient for the user. They need to maintain their quality of life, and clearly a key to that for us is to focus on the non-battery part of the process. I think we will see more and more manufacturers focusing on that, if they havent already.
Q. What is the importance of battery clubs?
A: We definitely cannot overstate their importance. What we know from all the research we have done is that consumers want value, in terms of the lowest price per battery, and they also want convenience. The most economical way for them to reach those goals is to join a battery club. Also, large retail chains are growing their hearing aid battery business, which means even more competition for hearing care professionals. So ultimately, it is about choices for the consumer, and giving them the choice of brands, packaging formats, and even priceswhich is one of the ways in which battery clubs can be beneficial.
Q. What do you see for the future of the hearing aid battery industry?
A: Consumers today are much more educated, and they expect dispensing professionals to be experts and also to offer many different choices. So I expect companies to step up and offer more choices, in price or selection. We will definitely see manufacturers continue to focus on packaging, and in terms of promotion, we will see an increase in targeting baby boomers. Everyone is fighting for the boomer dollar today, so promotion is becoming increasingly important. Product selection and visibility will continue to gain in importance.