The death care sector is changing rapidly. In 2005, the cremation rate hovered around 35%, a number that at the time was astronomical considering that in the 1970s, only 5% of the US population was cremated. In 2022 however, an enormous 59.3% of the US population was cremated, with studies and projections predicting this number will jump as high as 80% by 2035. This shift is staggering, and it emphasizes the great change that is still occurring within the death care sector.
As the US experiences a shift in demographics with a decrease in religious affiliation, rising budget concerns, an increase in technology integration into daily life, and more, many of these changes will trickle down to the death care sector. The needs of the community are discernibly different from those of even a decade ago, so it’s no surprise that what modern families are asking for has changed.
So, what are modern families looking for in the death care industry?
Personalization and customization of services
Personalization and customization are everywhere. From personalized music recommendations to customized hair care, it’s inherently part of what we interact with daily. One 2020 study even found that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that provides a tailored experience. In the death care sector, these statistics are just as relevant as families shift their priority from traditional services to those that can focus on and celebrate the unique life of their loved one.
As society evolves and changes, so do our traditions and beliefs. It’s important to recognize that funerals are no exception to this. With fewer people identifying with traditional religions, families are beginning to shift the nature of funeral traditions. Embracing this change can help us honor our loved ones in a way that reflects their unique beliefs and values. This leads the way to services that prioritize the deceased’s life, hobbies, and preferences, often in ways that might previously have been discouraged.
This shift isn’t universal, and certain states will notice this change more than others. However, death care providers who are open to personalized services and the evolving needs of families will be better suited to adapt to the changing landscape. By being welcoming and encouraging, providers can make a positive impact on these changing demands.
The rise of digitization within America is far from unexpected in a world where Google, Venmo, and Zoom are commonplace as verbs in daily life. Now more than ever, families expect services to be available to organize online, with immediate responses and simple payment methods. Statistics show that in 2018, as many as 76% of American adults were online shoppers, with 62% considered regular online shoppers. As these numbers continue to grow, so too will the expectations on the industry to accommodate them.
Families are more likely than ever to turn to the internet as their first point of call to find death care providers and to establish the next steps in what can be a difficult and unfamiliar process. Death care providers with information available online, such as locations, hours, services, and next steps, will be in the best position to support families.
As digitization becomes more commonplace, the reliance on it from families will continue to increase. The rise of automation eases the burden on families, as organizations can remind their families of important anniversaries or special events. Not only a solution for families to feel more connected with their oved ones, automation can also ease the burden on large death care providers by allowing them to connect with their community through a much simpler process.
For most Americans, end-of-life planning is important, but not a priority. One study found that while 62.5% of Americans feel it’s very important to talk to others about funeral plans, only 21.4% have made prearrangements. There are numerous factors quoted as to why this is the case, but for the majority of respondents, it boiled down to two factors, that they just hadn’t thought about it or that it was too expensive.
While certainly, the cost of a funeral can be prohibitive, they are likely even more so when required at need. Families in the position to organize their services pre-need can use the additional time frame to research more thoroughly and budget more effectively. For families who are required to arrange services at need, however, the time frame is often significantly shortened. This can apply pressure budget issues, as the need to organize an expensive service can be difficult and oftentimes inaccessible.
As financial concerns continue to grow, families are beginning to seek out death care providers who provide pricing transparency and access to online planning tools to allow them to find the service quickly that will best suit their financial and emotional needs. Online tools make a difficult process easier for families, as well as for death care providers who can reduce strain on facilities previously handling a large number of inquiries. Death care providers can then use this spare time to give back to their communities, improving their services and better supporting families.
Flexibility and Accessibility
According to the NFDA, 53.1% of Americans have attended a funeral at a non-traditional location. Emphasized by the pandemic, funerals are now staying farther from their traditional routes, with virtual or live steamed services increasing in popularity. A more convenient and flexible option, virtual services support and welcome friends and family worldwide who would otherwise struggle to travel as needed.
A movement that, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, was far from common, now virtual funerals are hailed for their ability to reach more people than in-person services. Particularly wonderful for those who are immunocompromised, have other health concerns, live abroad, or are in assisted living facilities, virtual funerals allow all loved ones to be present no matter their physical locations or limitations. As these difficulties become more recognized in our society, the demand by modern families for funerals and services which can accommodate loved ones in all circumstances will continue to rise.
The needs of families within the death care sector are changing rapidly. These shifts, as the sector moves away from tradition towards personalization, digitization, and inclusivity, reflect many of the changes in our society. As Americans place increasing importance on these changes, they will increasingly choose providers who accommodate their preferences.
OpusXenta provides software that can help alleviate some of the pressure on your funeral home, cemetery, and crematorium. With byondpro, you can manage your whole funeral home, cemetery, and crematorium with one complete business management system. If you or your business would like to discover more about byondpro or other OpusXenta solutions, we would love to help.