The funeral industry is experiencing an era of change in the 21st century. It is probably the most seismic change the death care business has experienced for over 2 centuries. A once very traditional and stoic industry is being affected by shifts in consumer demand.
So, what funeral trends are happening? And how are they affecting funeral homes and funeral consumers?
#1 The demand for affordable cremation
Cremation has soared in popularity in the last 10 years, and in the last 3 years has moved to becoming the preferred option for the majority of Americans, with the cremation rate reaching 55% last year and set to reach 71% by 2030 according to Cremation Association of North America (CANA).
Although some families choose cremation with a funeral or memorial service, it is the demand for direct cremation as a simple, no-fuss and affordable funeral alternative that is making up the core of the cremation business. Providers in the DFS Memorials Affordable Cremation Network report that up to 80% of cremation cases they handle are now direct cremation cases.
#2 An interest in eco-friendlier funeral alternatives
There appears to be a growing interest (especially in certain states) for eco-friendlier funeral options. Many consider cremation eco-friendlier than a traditional burial with embalming fluids, concrete and steel being buried into the earth. Some families that still opt for burial are considering natural burial, and even traditional cemeteries are adding hybrid green burial sections to their cemetery to cater to this demand.
#3 A break away from convention in rituals
Society is changing, and how we approach life rituals is part of that change. There have been changes in our attitudes to how we approach births for some time now, with a greater interest in natural birthing processes. Some families have moved away from a somber funeral ritual to choose a Life Celebration event instead, breaking the convention of a traditional funeral service.
Personalization has become quite the ‘buzz’ concept of culture today. We all look for myriad ways to personalize our lives. We personalize our daily lives and possessions to stamp our identity, so why not choose to host a funeral that exemplifies this quality of personalization?
This trend has meant that funeral homes are having to adapt to cater to personalized services.
#5 A return to the 19th century concept of family-led funerals
Back in the days an undertaker was largely just responsible for making a coffin and burying the deceased. The family would prepare their loved one and lay them to rest in the parlor, holding a vigil at home to mourn their departed family member. Eventually the business of undertaking extended to funeral parlors, and today funeral homes and funeral directors.
However, there is a trend affecting the funeral industry today, where more families are wishing to conduct a ‘DIY’ funeral for their loved one instead of just using a funeral home to conduct everything.
There are 10 states that DO require a family to employ a funeral director to conduct funeral services and handle a deceased’s body. But that still leaves 40 states where a family can, if they so choose, opt to handle the funeral services themselves. There are several organizations nationwide they support families who wish to conduct a family-led funeral.
These 5 trends are changing an industry that has been very traditional for many decades. Some in the business recognize these changes and are adapting to meet the demand. But for some in the industry, these trends are presenting them with challenges.