This year, for the first time, cremation became more popular than burial in the United States. According to a report released by the National Funeral Director’s Association, the cremation rates have skyrocketed over the last decade. In 2005, only 32.2% of Americans opted to have their remains cremated compared to 61.4% opting to be buried in the traditional manner.
Fast forward 10 years and the numbers look completely different. Today, over 70% of people opt to be cremated compared to just 23.2% who choose to be buried. As a result of the drastic shift in the death care industry, many firms are scrambling to catch up with the growing trend. But, why all of a sudden has the practice become so popular? Well, there are many contributing factors.
Cremation is a far more affordable option than the traditional burial. If you are looking for an example, a great place to start is comparing the average urn price to that of an average casket. In addition, space is far more limited in cemeteries than in years past resulting in a real estate-like premium on burial plots. For some consumers there are religious reasons for choosing cremation and for others the choice is based on environmental concerns. Regardless of the case-to-case rationale, one thing has become very clear; cremation is here to stay and that is a result of consumer preference.
The most telling statistic provided by the NFDA Report is not the current numbers, rather the predictions for the future. The report stipulates that by the year 2035 the cremation rate in North America will grow to almost 90%. If you have a cremation business, it will more than certainly become the future of your firm and be sure to let people know about what you offer. If you do not one, it may be time to start thinking about making an investment.
The rising popularity of cremation is no anomaly. As we start to say goodbye to baby boomers, end-of-life planning and decisions are falling on the shoulders of younger generations. From this, a much larger social change has come to a front. Death used to be viewed, en mass, as a loss to be mourned and a tragedy to be grieved. While there are still these negative associations with loss, many younger people are opting to celebrate and commemorate the life of those who are passing away rather than emphasize bereavement.
This shift has not only affected general attitudes towards the loss of loved ones, but it has entirely reshaped the idea of what a funeral ceremony is. The advent of celebration-of-life ceremonies has begun to threaten the traditional funeral and burial model.
It may not be time for funeral homes to sound the alarms of panic. However, it seems all but written in stone that cremation will eventually be the only way in which remains are handled. In preparation we have started to coach our clients on the importance of having and marketing a viable cremation business. The truth is, people need to know that your firm offers cremation, it may not be as obvious as you think.
As with any industry it is important to give people what they are asking for. Cremation is a must have service option and will only continue grow in popularity. While certain firms we work with have not yet experienced the effects of this change, like those in the state of Texas where traditional burial is still heavily preferred, most funeral homes will need to make the adjustment or risk losing business to competitors.
Developing cremation strategies and integrating those with the general marketing efforts of your funeral home are crucial steps to keeping up with the industry. Additionally, by not having a cremation offering on your website, you will be losing out on many searches and opportunities to serve families each and every day.
Moving forward your cremation services are going to be an important, if not integral, part of your business. We hear it all the time, consumers are reaching out more and more to explore their cremation options. While your state or region may not yet be caught up to the trend, make sure your firm is prepared for the future of the death care industry: cremation and the flexible service options that come along with it.
1. Include It On Your Website: Much like cremation, the internet and your online presence are the future of your funeral business.
2. Put It In Your Name: This is one thing we are seeing often and with 90% of consumers saying they didn’t know if their local funeral home offers cremation, its a wonder more firms haven’t started to do this.
3. Include It In Your Marketing: People don’t know what they don’t know. And while we do this everyday, people simply do not have a great idea of what is available to them. Don’t assume and put your business out there!
4. If You Don’t Have One, Get One: If you currently do not offer cremation services, it is time to start thinking about adding the practice to your service offerings.
5. Make Sure People Know You Offer It: If you have a cremation business and no one knows about it, what good does that do for your firm? Make a point of raising awareness about your service offerings.
Brandon is the Marketing Communications Manager at FrontRunner Professional. He holds a Social Sciences degree from McMaster University and a Graduate Certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications from St. Lawrence College. His creative writing and innovative ideas bring new life to the company, FrontRunner’s clients and funeral directors world-wide.