The Segmentation of an Industry

I recently read this article from The Irish Catholic where Joseph Behan of Hibernian Funerals explained that Covid-19 has changed many things about death care in Ireland.  For instance, he told of the “Tell us Once” format where instead of notifying the post office, the credit union, your bank and others of your death there is now a movement to tell the government of the death and everyone with a need to know gets notified from that notice.

He also commented on the death care profession and mentioned that “millennia-old traditions are no more immune to change than anything else“.  His comment on that came off his notice that in the funeral profession and consumer choice that there is “. . .some segmentation of the market that I’ve seen done. . .”

That comment resonated with me while I was looking for Funeral Director Daily topics on that same day.    Not only did I find The Irish Catholic article entitled “The Changing face of Funerals“, but I found articles on green burials, Better Place Forests, Fireless Cremation, and a new venture for online direct cremation with an aftercare twist, named “After” that had just raised $1 million for its start.

It dawned on me that Mr. Behan was right that the death care business is being segmented based on consumer sentiment and choices.  And, don’t forget that there is also natural organic reduction (human composting) that is legal in two, and soon to be three states in the United States, and the original alkaline hydrolysis operations that is becoming increasing more legal and accepted also.

Now. . . compare that to the segmentation of not so long ago which, during the most part of my career included only cremation, earth burial, and anatomical donation.  And, back a little farther in 1960, cremation was only 3.6% of death dispositions. . . .where, in essence, you had an industry with a 96% non-segmentation that virtually consisted of  all casketed deaths.

Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

So, I don’t know where all of these segmentation options will go from here.  However, if you follow trends it becomes apparent that what is increasingly written about today has a very good possibility of being adopted in the future.  Think about Electric Vehicles (EV). . . . They’ve been a discussion point since the gas crisis of the 1970’s and now 50-years later they are on the precipice of becoming mainstream with Tesla and Lucid as EV-only products and big companies like Ford and others building their own EV machines.. . .or plant based meat substitutes — such as Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods that now have regular products placed within McDonalds and Burger King locations.

If that thought process moves through with these death care segmentation options, then we have to be ready to serve families that choose those segments in the future.

My point of today’s article is to just be open-minded about the future of funeral service.  I think as we move forward, in the long-term with our businesses, if we think we can survive only serving deaths of earth burial and flame cremation we may find ourselves left out of many services.  Today’s message is just to be aware of what may be coming choices of the consumer public.

Here are some of the links to the articles that I mentioned in the article:

  1. Fireless Cremation — sometimes known as Alkaline Hydrolysis 2.0
  2. Green or Eco-friendly Burials — in of all places, Baltimore County, Maryland
  3. The Changing Face of Funerals — The Irish Catholic
  4. After — Direct Cremation website
  5. Better Place Forests — permanent memorialization

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