During 2015, Gardner Audiology loaned Starkey Z Series hearing aids to 233 people in exchange for their opinion. Participants resided in the Florida counties of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Citrus.
Over the years, Gardner has collected consumer satisfaction surveys from over 4000 Tampa Bay residents. We were curious how the Starkey Z Series family of hearing aids compared to other aids.
Participants of the Z Series hearing aid study were offered free loaner hearing aids in exchange for their opinion on pre and post fitting questionnaires. They could choose the technology level they wanted to study. At the end of thirty days, they had the choice of returning their loaner aids or purchasing them with a field study discount.
The models included in this study were the basic entry level Zi20, the middle level Zi70, and the premium levels Zi90 and Zi110. All of these hearing aids share a watertight design. All models utilize Starkey’s best feedback canceller and have wireless connectivity to TV transmitters and remote control devices. The Zi90 and Zi110 contain premium technologies that better manage background noise.
One obvious difference with this study as compared to previous studies was the participants’ overwhelming choice to try premium hearing aid technology. Out of 233 participants, 151 decided to field test premium products. One hundred and three people chose the Zi110 and 48 chose the Zi90. These people were very motivated to hear better in noisy environments.
All of these people had nothing to lose by trying the best because the hearing aids were on loan. Did they try the best because they were simply curious or genuinely motivated to buy the very best hearing? How much hearing improvement did they need before they could justify the value of a purchase? The results of this study were interesting as compared to previous study outcomes.
The hearing improvement that participants experienced with the Zi110 and Zi90 in noisy environments were some of the best that we have measured over the years. New users (having never worn an aid) had an average 103% improvement in their ability to hear in noisy environments such as restaurants and parties. On average, previous hearing aid users had an 86% improvement over their old hearing aids.
How did this significant improvement influence their perception of value? The top of the line Zi110 had the highest purchase rate. Seventy two percent of new users purchased their study aids while 65% of the previous users abandoned their old aids and bought this new model. Those are very good conversion rates as compared to past studies, especially for previous users. The Zi90 purchase rates were slightly lower at 61% for new users and 56% for previous users.
Overall, the Zi110 model aid delivered the best noise suppression and the best consumer satisfaction. All four audiologists who participated in this data collection agree the premium Starkey Z Series models deliver the best value compared to other aids we have studied.