The humanization of pets

2019 is soon coming to a close and I’ve thought about what has this year taught me in relation to the death care industry.  There has been mergers and acquisitions, there has been the legalization of recomposition, there has been the continued growth of the alkaline hydrolysis business and more.  However, one of the items that has really stood out to me, and one where I see incredible growth potential through existing death care operators is that of the “Humanization of pets” by the public.

There is a lot happening in the death care space as it is broadly defined.  As we look to 2020 I believe all funeral home and crematory operators may want to look to the horizontal integration of pet loss services as a burgeoning future business and deliberate as to whether your business operation should be pursuing pet loss as a new profit center.

If your business handles loss and grief well, while there is no guarantee of doing so with pet services, there probably is a very good chance that you would be able to slide from humans into pets.  As the Schoedingers have done in Columbus, Ohio, you may have the ability to create your brand as a caring provider and transfer that brand affiliation from the human realm into the pet loss realm.  You can see the Shoedinger Pets web-site here.

It’s interesting as the death care business or funeral profession is not the only place where companies have noticed the possible horizontal movement of what they have done well and moved it into the pet space because of this growing humanization of pets.  General Mills, makers of Cherrios and Wheaties as well as other food products, knew that they were good at getting shelf space in grocery stores for human consumption foods.  Pet food companies, on the other hand, did not have a lot of experience with grocery stores and shelf space plays.  General Mills, in my opinion, made a great stride for itself, in a horizontal integration move,  by purchasing a pet food company – Blue Buffalo – and then used their brand power to get shelf space which is leading to record sales.  In essence, they did what they do well, get their products positioned to be purchased by consumers, but moved from human consumption products to pet consumption products. . . a horizontal move.  Here is an article on their latest results.

Funeral homes have the same horizontal option move possibilities by moving into pet death care.  People have wondered when that will happen with the big companies.  I’m of the opinion, that it already is.

Australia’s largest provider of death care services, InvoCare, has begun opening Patch & Purr pet loss facilities across that country.  Here is an article on Patch & Purr.  Access Holdings, the money behind the cremation company consolidator Foundation Partners Group, has began acquiring pet loss companies as you can see from their Regency business unit here.

And, last Wednesday in Florida a bill was introduced to regulate pet cremation as you can read here.  It is my belief that once states start regulating consumer choices, then those choices are about to, or have already, become mainstream.

So, my advice to any funeral home operator is that as we move into 2020 you do the research on if you should expand into the pet cremation and loss business.  While you may find it may not be for your firm, if you don’t look at the opportunity you may be passing up both a way to help your community deal with loss and the opportunity to own another thriving business.

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