Excerpt of article by Gail Rubin, CT, published in Mortuary Management (December 2016).
As we stand at the threshold of 2017, check out the feedback I’m getting from the public during my presentations on funeral planning and endof-life issues. Let’s look into the crystal ball and ponder funeral trends the industry faces in the New Year.
Climbing Cremation Rates
When I ask my audiences about their burial versus cremation preferences, at least two-thirds of them choose cremation. The national average cremation rate has now surpassed 50 percent and continues to climb…
The top questions asked at my presentations are, “Where can I get the cheapest cremation in town?” and “Why are funerals so expensive?” Cost concerns have been and will continue to be very important to consumers. With 75 percent of adults avoiding preneed funeral planning, sticker shock sets in when they see current funeral costs at-need. Many will react by looking for the least expensive option…
Price Lists Online
You already know the rules: the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires you to provide your General Price List upon request, either in person or on the phone – but people are shopping online. Is your price list available when and where people look for funeral services and prices?
The website www.Parting.com started a free zip code-searchable database of price lists, comparing local provider prices for traditional funerals, cremation memorial services, and direct cremations. Parting.com offers funeral directors a no-risk marketing option of pay-for-performance leads. When the site sends you a paying customer, only then would you pay a fee.
Home and DIY Funerals
The Baby Boomers brought natural childbirth home from the hospital. With this Silver Tsunami generation approaching their own mortality, you may see a growing interest in home after-death care and Do-It-Yourself funerals.
The National Home Funeral Alliance, www.HomeFuneralAlliance.org, empowers families to care for their own dead by providing educational opportunities and connections to resources that promote environmentally sound and culturally nurturing death practices. Find ways to work with your local home funeral advocates to support this movement and you may get business you might not otherwise.
Along with a rise in home funerals, Baby Boomers also have increased interest in green/natural burials. You know when Dignity Memorial® opens a Green Burial Council (GBC) certified cemetery – as they did with Cedar Lawns Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Redmond, Washington – that this is a trend to embrace. The corporation sees that demand for natural options is outpacing its expectations. Learn more about what it takes to incorporate green burial and funeral practices into your services and become GBC-certified at www.GreenBurial Council.org.
“Nones” Continue to Grow
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of religious “nones,” those Americans who do not identify with a religious group, continues to grow. While nationwide surveys in the 1970s and 1980s found that less than one in 10 U.S. adults said they had no religious affiliation, fully 23 percent now describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.”
Non-religious families will not be satisfied with a “rent-a-minister” officiating at a loved one’s memorial service. You need to know your local certified funeral celebrants who can make the event all about the person who died. A meaningful, memorable “good goodbye” that leaves religion out of the proceedings will make a positive impression on the friends and relatives of the families you serve. Find local celebrants through www.lnSightBooks.com and www.Celebrantlnstitute.org.
Online Funeral Products
With growth in home/DIY funerals, members of the general public will be looking to the Internet to purchase caskets, urns, cremation jewelry, and other funeral products. Keep apprised of online options, and be prepared to educate families about the pros and cons of outside purchases. Costco.com offers metal and wood caskets and urns in the funeral section of their website, with everything under $3,000. Amazon.com offers affordable urns and cremation jewelry. Perhaps by 2018, those items will be delivered by drone!
So, how will reality match up with these predictions?
Gail Rubin, CT, is a death educator working with organizations to connect with Baby Boomers concerned about end-of-life issues. Gail is a Certified Funeral Celebrant, a pioneer of the Death Cafe movement in the United States and an informed advocate for preneed funeral planning. She’s authored three books, including her latest, Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die. Download a free 50-point Executor Checklist PDF at www.AGoodGoodbye.com.