They are known as “The Big Six” for a reason. Together they control about 98% of the global market for hearing aids.* And it’s a big and rapidly growing market that brings in about six billion dollars annually.
Oddly, three of them are Danish companies.
Each of these six companies produces similar ranges of hearing aids, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Choosing which one to buy is best made in consultation with your audiologist based on your own individual needs. But it’s always a good idea to do some of your own research too.
The good news is that the competition for technological supremacy, not to mention lucrative patents, is fierce. The big six are constantly introducing new models with new features, often on an annual basis.
Here’s a rundown on this six horse race:
Sonova (brands: Phonak), market share 24%*
Sonova is a Swiss company founded in 1947, and it’s grown into an industry giant. It produces a full range of hearing aids, and an array of assistive devices.
William Demant (Oticon, Bernafon) 23%
A Danish company founded in 1904 that began when William Demant travelled to London to buy a hearing aid for his wife. He returned home and became a sales agent for hearing aid manufacturers. He called the company Oticon which eventually began making its own devices. In 1995 the company acquired the Swiss manufacturer Bernafon.
Sivantos (Siemens, Signia & Rexton): 17%
Sivantos was spun off from the German giant Siemens in 2015 and is now headquartered in Singapore. It continues to produce the Siemens brand of hearing aid along with the Signia, Audio Service & Rexton lines and it operates the retail chain Hear USA.
GN Store Nord (ReSound): 16%
Another Danish company with a global reach. Founded in 1943 it now produces hearing aids and has a network of audiology clinics under the name Beltone.
Starkey Technologies (Starkey) 9%
Starkey is a relative newcomer to the industry. The privately owned company was founded in 1976 as a hearing aid repair service in Minnesota. Eventually it began producing its own. Its most famous customer was U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Widex (Widex) 9%
Yet another Danish company. Widex is family owned and was established in 1956. It produced the world’s first in-the-ear digital hearing aid in 1995.
* Bernstein Research 2013