Tweens: The Forgotten Consumer? An Analysis of Hearing Impaired, 8-14-year-olds’ Opinions on Hearing Aid Producers' Current Marketing Communications

Maja Nina Neerlin Friis

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose This master thesis investigates how hearing aid companies can target their tween1 consumers by better understanding the tweens’ social lives. How do you market hearing aids towards tweens? This is a question which has yet to be asked by researchers within the field of marketing. Even though many marketers believe that tweens are a valuable consumer group, they seem to receive little to no attention from the companies in the hearing aid industry, or marketing researchers for that matter. This master thesis has therefore tried to fill this gap, by investigating how companies, producing hearing aids, can better target their communication towards tweens. Tweens make an interesting consumer group, as they in this stage in life have become competent consumers, and understand marketing messages better than younger children. They have brand awareness, and they understand what consumption can symbolise. But it is also a stage in life, where consumption is influenced by their constant awareness of themselves as social beings, and other people’s opinions starts to become more and more important. Method With a theoretical starting point in studies on children, within psychology, hearing impairment and consumerism, this thesis creates an understanding of the psychological aspects of hearing impaired tweens, and its relation to their role as consumers and social beings. The value of combining studies in psychology, hearing impairment and consumerism is shown in how we can understand the background of hearing impaired tweens’ behaviour towards marketing communication. Value is furthermore found in the recommendation for communicative marketing efforts for interacting with tween consumers of hearing aids. The theoretical frame of understanding is used in the development of a qualitative interview guide which investigates what tweens think of the current communication, and what hearing impaired tweens think should be changed marketing wise. The interviews were semi structured and observing, where the focus was on gaining conscious and unconscious opinions from the tweens. Furthermore a content analysis was made on Oticon, Siemens, Phonak and Widex Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. These are the data which make up the primary empirical data which have been analysed from a marketing perspective. Results The empirical process gave results which found parallels between the empirical data and theoretical framework. The empirical data was relevant in the creation of a new model which shows the connection between stigmas, social life and preferred communication. It also provided data which suggested an extension of W. Sharma & Dasgupta model on children’s zones of influence. What the thesis found was that hearing aid producers should target their tween consumers by communicating positive aspects of hearing aids in a way were tweens find recognition. This could be done by addressing social interactions, or address stigmas which they have encountered themselves. The thesis also found that parents could be considered as targets as well. Relevancy and value The findings in this thesis open up for further research in how hearing aid companies can target their younger consumers. It also gives recommendations to be considered already now. It furthermore questions the current communication, as results have shown hearing aid companies themselves, might be producing stigmatisation without it being intentional. This opens up for research that could change the way hearing aids are marketed today.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages195