Specsavers are probably best known for the catchy tagline “should have gone to Specsavers” that is rapidly becoming a part of the British vocabulary in a similar fashion as Roneseal’s “it does exactly what it says on the tin”. Great advertising and brand awareness if you have the big bucks to achieve it but what does Specsavers tagline imply? Well, most would conclude from their quirky and amusing advertising that if you go anywhere else you will regret it as they provide the best product, the best service and the best price but is that always the case?
If we look at hearing aids, how does Specsavers stack up against the competition? Firstly, it is necessary to define who or what is the competition. Well Specsavers are head to head with Boots, Hidden Hearing and Amplifon as the big hearing instrument retailers on the high street so they certainly are the competition. However, there is also the NHS which supplies more hearing aids than all of them put together, so surely we must classify the NHS as valid competition too. Finally there is a third way emerging to challenge both the public and private sector – HearingDirect, the first UK based company to sell hearing aids over the internet. So how do they all compare and what aspects should we compare? The three key areas of any purchase are surely price, technology and service, so let’s start with those.
Price: The clear winner is the NHS, all products and services provided free of charge. Second place is HearingDirect with hearing aid prices starting at just £99. Specsavers and the other high street retailers average approximately £1100 per hearing aid but I am sure that Specsavers would argue that they are the cheapest and according to their website their lowest cost Clearsound range is priced at £495 / £695 Hang on though Boots start at just £149 so shouldn’t they be placed third? Amplifon and Hidden Hearing are slightly bashful regarding revealing their price on the web, so let’s discount them. The reality is that both Boots and Specsavers will sell very few of their low priced product using them as a tempting offer but up-selling to higher priced products. So to conclude the price war? Winner NHS. Second HearingDirect and difficult to clarify third.
Technology: The range of products offered by HearingDirect, Specsavers and the other high street chains makes comparison of technology as an isolated factor difficult. All offer various specification products and varying prices. There is no doubt the highest specification and latest technology is available on the high street, so gold medal to that corner but the technology level and resultant benefit of the NHS products has improved enormously since the MHAS (Modernising Hearing Aid Services) programme. Their products are now digital and now so good that they may be rebranded by the manufacturers to protect the high street. HearingDirect also offers 100% digital products under their own brand.
Service: Let’s assume that most people would like a speedy delivery and that right to their front door would not be a bad idea. Clear winner is HearingDirect with a next day delivery offered on all their hearing aids. The high street and Specsavers take a joint silver and the NHS follows on with a service that still rather depends upon a postcode lottery.
So three Gold Medals on offer and one a piece. Perhaps “should have gone to Specsavers” ought to be “could have gone to Specsavers” as there are now real alternatives!!