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08/17/2022

Best Buy enters new over-the-counter hearing device market

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Best Buy will offer an omnichannel shopping experience for hearing devices.

Best Buy is acting upon new FDA regulations that establish a category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids.

Beginning in fall 2022, the consumer electronics giant will introduce a new "experience" for the hearing impaired that include over-the-counter hearing devices aimed at customers with mild to moderate hearing loss and an online hearing assessment tool. The devices will be available in more than 300 Best Buy stores. 

The move comes after the FDA, on Tuesday, Aug. 16,  issued a new rule designed to improve consumer access to hearing aids, with the goal of lowering costs. The ruling establishes a new category of OTC hearing aids, enabling consumers with perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment to purchase hearing aids directly from stores or online retailers without the need for a medical exam, prescription, or a fitting adjustment by an audiologist. 

For years, Best Buy has offered a collection of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), self-fitting hearing devices, TV amplifiers, hearing protection devices and other hearing-related accessories. But starting this fall, the assortment will include products inthe new FDA-regulated category.

The FDA  action follows an executive order from President Biden calling for the FDA to take steps to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter. In 2017, Congress passed bipartisan legislation requiring the FDA to create a category of OTC hearing aids, but it was not fully implemented until now. Consumers could see OTC hearing aids available in traditional retail and drug stores as soon as mid-October 2022, when the rule takes effect.

The Best Buy initiative includes a personal hearing assessment tool on BestBuy.com, powered by its partner hearX, that helps customers identify their specific level of hearing loss. The assessment is designed to help customers  find the right solution for their specific needs while shopping online, or an employee can help make recommendations in the store. The hearing assessment tool is also accessible via a QR code in-store. 

Products available will include Lexie Hearing, Nuheara, Jabra Enhance Plus, Lucid Hearing fio and ENGAGE, Eargo 6, and others.

“Our expansion of the hearing collection and new store experience will let customers easily find a hearing loss solution from brands they trust,” said Frank Bedo, category officer at Best Buy.  

Best Buy unveils small-format, ‘digital-first’ store
Best Buy is preparing to launch its new omnichannel OTC hearing device experience on the heels of opening its first-ever, small-format digitally focused store as part of its test of new store models.

The 5,000-sq.-ft. store, located in Monroe, N.C., combines a curated selection of Best Buy’s best-in-category products, consultation service areas including and the retailer’s signature Geek Square with technology enhancements. The assortment covers home theater and audio, computing, headphones, wearables, fitness, cell phones, cameras, smart home, small appliances and more.