The old cliché resonates “Nothing is certain but death and taxes” and I have heard many talks about the ‘death’ industry as a “recession-proof” business. Yet the Funeral Industry is now feeling its own pinch as the current troubling economic times continue.
This once very traditional industry has to move out of the dark ages and embrace modern technology if it is to succeed as “recession-proof”! An $11 billion a year industry, with over 21,000 Funeral Homes, employing some 105,000 people, divided between a couple of large corporations, small independent businesses, and individual family-owned Funeral Homes. Many of the independent and family-run Funeral Homes do not even consider a web site as a fundamental tool to market their services in today’s modern ‘online’ world.
When money is tight, people look for options to save money, luxuries are reduced, and any extravagances are limited. In today’s economic climate arranging a funeral, especially if it has come as an unexpected task, is treated much like any other expenditure…..and scaled-down.
Reports from the industry suggest that more and more people are choosing cremation as a preferred alternative to a traditional burial. Why? Simply…the cost!! An average traditional burial costs between $6,000 and $7,000. The average basic cremation can cost from as little as $700. On average a family can save at least $4,000 to $5,000 by opting for a simple cremation.
Some Funeral Homes are reporting cremation rates increasing by as much as 20 percent year-on-year. The Cremation Association of North America reports that the practice has been rising annually nationwide, with nearly 80 percent of all deaths in the United States expected to result in cremation by 2030. The No. 1 reason for this pattern, according to the association, is cost – 30 percent of people surveyed said that cremation saves money.
Even those still choosing a more traditional funeral are opting for ways to save money on that expensive ‘all costs’ tab. Funeral Homes report that families are purchasing funeral items such as caskets and urns at a discount utilizing the Internet. The recession is hitting all areas of the Funeral Industry, but especially those ‘extravagances’ that cause a family to dig deeper into their coffers, but may seem superfluous to real necessity. Sympathy flower sales are down, grave-markers and headstones are getting smaller and less ornate.
The price-conscious public are now quite savvy that the Internet can afford them the luxury of comparing prices, products, and services…..and all from the comfort of their home. An industry that typically avoided quoting prices is having to adapt to the demands of this modern consumer. And the Funeral Homes that will benefit from this market place are those that have not only embraced all that the Internet can offer in attracting them business; but also those that are choosing to be transparent in their pricing and offer the ‘affordable’ option. As with any industry if sales revenue falls then the volume of sales must increase.