Consistency?, Price?. . . .what are the consumers looking for?




When you get to be my age you have many of your friends’ parents passing away.  One of the things I’ve noticed about that is when the 2nd parent dies the family almost always uses the same funeral home that they used for the first death.  That’s not surprising — it’s what we call in the funeral business “Heritage calls”.


And, I’ve noticed “Heritage calls” happening even when the 2nd parent moved to a different community to live closer or nearer to children.  Many times the funeral home from the original community is called even though they may be miles away. . . that shows the strength of “Heritage calls”.


Another thing I’ve noticed, however in increasingly frequency, is that many times the 2nd to die parent is a direct cremation with memorial service whereas the first parent was buried in a traditional casketed manner.  I find this interesting because in my day as a funeral director, and I’ve been out of active service 10 years now, most married couples chose the same avenue for their death care wishes — either both cremations or both traditional burials.  They very seldom seemed to do different types of services.


It got me to wondering why are so many different now?  Then earlier this week I read a couple of news articles about the food industry and its pricing.  Turns out, according to this article, that familiar casual chain restaurants such as Olive Garden, Applebees, and Texas Roadhouse are among those brands increasing their sales.


The two parallel trains of thought in that case are that they are familiar to the consumer and that they have large enough scale in purchasing to keep costs down which translates into “value” for the consumer.


I think those thoughts are probably true and that familiarity is in keeping why “Heritage calls” continue to go back to the first funeral home. . . . .Familiarity is the key.


The 2nd point about value is also easily understandable and I’m wondering if it is “cost” or “value” in this inflationary environment that has many 2nd to die spouses choosing a cremation memorial service over a traditional casketed burial service such as their spouse had only a few years prior.  In essence, is the over-riding factor for that phenomena price or value as compared to something else, such as just simply preferring cremation?


As cremation grows there seems to be a trend towards making sure that a funeral home does not price itself out of its market for such.  In an attempt to keep their revenues up in that type of setting, are funeral homes raising their traditional burial, casket, and services costs in a larger manner to compensate?  And, if they do, does that drive some 2nd to die families to opt for a “less expensive” alternative?


Here’s another article on the food business that I just read that is entitled, “Firms pay price for raising prices“.  It deals with groceries and everyday household finances, but I’m wondering if the title could be applied to traditional funeral homes that raise their casketed burial prices over a certain point.


Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

The article includes the following paragraph and I’m wondering if it can be applied to the death care market also:


“Fortunately for all of us (consumers), there’s something called the free market. What the market seems to be saying emphatically right now is that the nosebleed charges for basic stuff that people accepted last year as they were emerging from their pandemic lifestyles aren’t OK anymore for a growing slice of the public.”


So, my question is, “When families of a 2nd to die spouse see a much increased price over the first spouse to die in only 3 to 5 years time, does that trigger an emotion or reaction that says, “Maybe we should just look to cremation”?  In most cases, the children of these people are probably much more aligned with cremation than their parents were so that might make the choice simpler at this time.


In any regard, food for thought. . . . .and a great argument to stress the importance of pre-arrangement with a financial instrument available to finance the funeral at a later date.


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