Is time up for the Undertaker?
That headline, “Is time up for the Undertaker”, is the headline from this press release issued earlier in May on behalf of Great Britain’s direct cremation provider Pure Cremation.
Pure Cremation recently conducted what they call “The Big Future of Funerals Survey” and, according to their conclusions, it points to the fact that many deaths in the future will rely on Direct Cremation without any organized service or celebration arranged by the funeral director. In essence, they suggest that the funeral director will only be necessary for the disposition, in this case, cremation of the deceased.
The survey was completed by 17,135 Pure Cremation clients who have taken out preneed plans for a Direct Cremation with the provider. According to the press release, ” . .a staggering 77% of those questioned said they didn’t need any professional help to arrange the celebration of life event.”
That number is quite different from what was found in the past, at least in the USA, about arranging services and leads Pure Cremation to this conclusion, as Pure Cremation’s founder Catherine Powell states in the release, “The role of the funeral director will be reduced to the performance of the essential practical tasks of caring for the deceased and logistics of unattended cremations, crematoria will find their chapel spaces increasingly used simply as the arrival hall for direct cremations. . . ”
The press release goes on to suggest that funeral directors, at least in Great Britain, will be facing a period of significant turbulence while they adapt to these changes. It is also expected that some funeral homes will lower prices to compete and those reduced revenues will inevitably mean that some death care providers may be forced to close.
According to their website, which you can see here, Pure Cremation charges US$ 1,600 for Direct Cremation at need and US$2218 for guaranteed preneed Direct Cremation.
Funeral Director Daily: I think that Pure Cremation and their survey show the correct trend with these statistics. Yes, more people are going to have Direct Cremation as their choice of disposition, and yes, more and more people are going to do without services of remembrance arranged, organized, and conducted by funeral directors.
But, do I believe that number will get to 77% anytime soon? While it is trending upwards, I think, at least in the USA, 77% of deaths being without an organized service by the funeral home is probably a higher number than what will happen in the short haul. However, there are event planners and even churches that are facilitating cremation memorial services without the use of funeral directors already. . . .so a higher number of those services without the help of a funeral director is certainly possible and probably inevitable.
I think that there is a low-cost direct cremation disposition alternative to a funeral home provided service in all major metropolitan areas of the U.S. already. There is a battle-ground going on there at this time. So much so that one metro full-service provider told me that he is creating a low-priced “off-brand” of his own to compete with these discounters. The thought process being this “off-brand” will be able to compete price wise, but not detract from his powerful full-service funeral home brand that has been in existence for over 100 years.
A newer battle-ground, in my opinion, in the United States will be those smaller regional center cities. As the major metro low-cost alternatives grow and seek a larger geographical footprint they will be bringing their lower-priced services into areas that have not had that low-price tier of competition before. It’s also my opinion that many of the regional center community members would prefer their disposition, and services if wanted, performed by their local funeral home even if slightly more expensive to do so. However, if the price-point differential gets too large, then look for the loyalty of these potential clients to switch to that low-cost provider and seek an alternative for the service or celebration event.
It’s somewhat difficult to watch for old-time funeral directors like myself, but the growth of cremation as a death care choice has rendered a funeral home’s reputation for great facilities, great people, a great location, great work in the prep room, and great community involvement away from the forefront of the consumer’s mind. . . . where now price is seen as one of the biggest, maybe the biggest, choice factor to many death care consumer families. It’s happened and is no one’s fault, but direct cremation is now seen by many as a commodity because mourners don’t gather around the body and casket as was prevalent in years gone by. And, I beleive, when seen as a commodity, price has a greater chance to be the selection differentiator.
It’s the road we are on and full service funeral homes and funeral directors need to recognize the need for market penetration and revenue enhancements to make sure that they can continue to profitably serve their communities.
More news from the world of Death Care:
- Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral cost UK governement $200 million. Associated Press
- The past, present, and future of McLaurin “Cultured Service for Humanity”. The Caswell Messenger (NC)
- Discovery of dozens of gravesites reveal lost cemetery’s past. Up North Live (MI)
Enter your e-mail below to join the 3,256 others who receive Funeral Director Daily articles daily: