In many Western countries, Australia and the United Kingdom included, cremation has begun far eclipsing burial as the preferred method of interment. One Australian study found that 71% of participants chose cremation when organising a funeral for a loved one. Similar statistics from the Cremation Society of Great Britain show that presently 75% of British people choose cremation. While this trend has grown steadily over several decades, it emphasises the already changing needs within the death care industry, highlighting a number of concerns that are now faced by modern families.
Environmental concerns, financial considerations, and flexibility are some of these considerations which are becoming increasingly pertinent. The needs of the community are changing rapidly as their personal values shift, and many of the attributes and characteristics of cremation align with these values.
So, what is your community asking for?
Sustainability is a growing conversation and cause for note across most industries worldwide. Recent studies show that 78% of consumers feel that sustainability is important, with customer attitudes shifting greatly in support of this. With this in mind, families are now more likely than ever to consider the sustainable impact of their, and their loved one’s, interment plans.
Historically, dying hasn’t had a very positive impact on the environment. Many of the choices required with both burial and cremation come with their caveats and accommodations. The case against cremation emphasises the fuel required and the carbon dioxide emitted during the process. Comparatively, burial has its own challenges, from the production of coffins to the chemicals required for embalming, to the ongoing maintenance associated with cemeteries and memorial gardens.
Other options are available, from the tamer, like natural burials, to the more controversial, like human composting (currently only legal in some states in the US). For most modern consumers, however, the debate shifts between burial and cremation, with environmental considerations often a key point in their decision.
Cremations in the long term have been shown to have a lighter impact on the environment than traditional burials. Burials have been shown to have an impact approximately 10% worse than cremation, primarily due to the labour and resource requirements of maintaining the cemetery and memorial sites. With that, however, there are changes that families can make in order for burials to fit their eco-values. From biodegradable coffins or shrouds to greener choices in flower arrangements, families can alter parts of their service to better fit their values.
As modern families’ priorities change, death care providers will increasingly need to consider the impact of their options on the environment, offering options that cater to these needs, or local alternatives with lighter eco impacts.
Personalisation is everywhere. From monogrammed wallets to playlists with recommendations based on your most listened to, personalisation has become increasingly present, and even more so expected in our daily lives. This is no different in the death care industry, as funerals and memorials shift, becoming tailored to better reflect and honour the life of the person who has died.
For families, this shift towards personalised funerals is becoming increasingly important. Attitudes are shifting, with choices from funeral music, venue, and attire becoming less traditional and more unique to those being honoured. Although the changing attitudes may not immediately impact the industry, it is important for death care providers to adapt and offer more personalised funeral or memorial services that reflect the unique life of the deceased. By doing so, they can meet the changing needs of families and stay competitive in the market.
Affordability is the next key consideration affecting families both pre-need and at-need. With a looming recession, rising interest rates and inflation a core concern for families worldwide, affordability is increasingly a deciding factor.
A UK report detailing the Cost of Dying found the cost of a basic funeral average at around £4,794 for burial and £3,673 for cremation. Comparatively, in Australia, the average funeral costs $5,766 while cremations cost an average of $6,196. These costs only cover the basic necessities and don’t include additional extras like flowers, notices, or catering; from state to state, these numbers can vary.
For budget-conscious families, the cost of dying can be an unexpected and extreme blow to their budget, especially when organised at the time of need. By allowing families to include or exclude certain service elements, they can choose what they need the most. Death care providers who understand this and can accommodate accordingly will be best able to support their communities,
For those who organise their own funeral pre-need, most do so with cost in mind, attempting to alleviate the pressure placed on their loved ones. With time in advance to organise their own rites, those organising pre-need can shop around, with many choosing the most fiscally considerate option. To meet family expectations, death care providers must be ready for all requirements, with flexibility and differing plans available to best-fit families.
The Rise of Tech
Technology is a major player in virtually every facet of our lives, having grown exponentially in our interconnectedness over the course of the pandemic. With the rise of Zoom and the fall of travel that Covid-19 prompted, people now expect digitisation in other facets of their day-to-day.
Within the death care industry, technology will begin to shift from a bonus to a must. Earlier this year, we discussed this rise in the use of technology in the death care industry in our post Death care, now and tomorrow. From memorial websites to video funerals, technology is sure to play an ever-increasing role in the death care industry.
Looking forward, families have begun asking for better online services and tools. As more digitally-oriented generations take on the responsibility of planning and organising funerals, the importance of online tools will continue to grow. Digital marketplaces, online payments, and more will become increasingly requested by the community as they seek convenience during difficult times.
The death care industry faces many changes as community priorities shift. These changes include a growing focus on sustainability, personalisation, affordability, and the use of technology. Death care providers who can adapt and provide solutions that understand these changing needs will be best set to support their community.
OpusXenta provides software which can help alleviate some of the pressure. With byondpro, you can manage your whole cemetery, funeral home, or crematoria with one easy-to-use business management system.
If you or your business would like to discover more about byondpro or other OpusXenta solutions, we would love to help.