According to the 2008 census, people of Hispanic origin are now the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constitute 15% of the nation’s total population, with 48% of the Hispanic-origin population living in California and Texas.
With an ever-increasing Hispanic population, even the Funeral Industry is now adapting to how to fulfill the growing need for Hispanic-themed funeral services. Brian Shake, of Stewart Enterprises Inc, a national funeral company who service many Hispanic populated areas, has noted how fewer Hispanics are now being shipped back to Mexico for funerals. Instead we are seeing more of our Hispanic population “choose the United States for burials” Brian added.
It is not clear just how many Funeral homes specialize in offering Hispanic-themed funerals. One will most certainly find Funeral Homes catering to Hispanics in metropolitan areas where a Hispanic population constitutes a significant proportion of the population. Certainly what we are seeing now is more funeral homes beginning to convert their business to accommodate the Hispanic population.There has been a rise in the number of funeral homes adding “Se habla español” to their advertising literature, and seeking to employ Spanish-speaking funeral directors with some knowledge of Latino death customs. Many are now even attempting to offer culturally themed funeral programs by involving mariachis, overnight visitations and family feasts. Much more intimate and in-home funeral services, which are much more culturally akin with Mexican and Latin American tradition, are becoming all the more popular in areas with a high Hispanic population.
Hispanic funerals can involve allowing the family of the deceased to wash, dress and prepare their loved one. Some even choose to adorn the inside of the casket with photos, jewellery, rosaries and pictures of the Virgin Mary. An extended period of visitation may be required, and a more visible demonstration of grief as is more traditional in Catholic-Latino custom.
Some funeral companies have managed to cater to the Hispanic population, but a key factor in appealing to this market has also been catering to a low-cost, high volume model. Most Hispanic families, as immigrants on low wages, have to arrange a funeral within a very limited budget. The Funeral Homes that have become popular with our Hispanic communities are those that can offer affordable funerals and know howto cater to the cultural customs.
The corporate business of America is ready to adapt to capture this growing market, and Service Corporation International [SCI] who own more than 1,500 funeral homes across the nation have begun their program of conversion. In the last four years SCI has transformed 21 funeral homes to carry the Hispanic theme in Los Angeles, Texas and Chicago, according to the vice president of SCI’s Hispana division. At least three more locations in Phoenix and Tucson are now also converted to carry the Hispanic theme.
With the Hispanic population set to continue to increase at dramatic rates, and forecast to reach over 102 million by 2050, it is certain that there is a significantly growing market that must be catered for. I am sure we will see more funeral business appealing to the Hispanic market as the Industry continues to meet new challenges in cultural trends.