COVID has Changed the Way We Mourn

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As a result of the global pandemic, consumers have experienced new ways of mourning the loss of their friends and family, and that has permanently changed the way they mourn, according to The Foresight Companies 2021 Funeral and Cemetery Consumer Behavior Study. Nearly 1/3 (32%) of survey respondents say their attitudes have changed as a result of new experiences, including using new technologies and adopting non-traditional approaches to celebrating.

The global pandemic has necessitated the adoption of new technologies and behaviors to the highly traditional funeral and cemetery business, and the FCCBS survey, now in its second year, continues to show that consumers are re-examining even the most fundamental ways they mourn.

“New technologies and experiences are opening consumers’ eyes to new possibilities, and these experiences have fundamentally changed the way consumers mourn the loss of their loved ones,” said Chris Cruger, Chief Executive Officer of The Foresight Companies. “The winners over the last year were those funeral home and cemetery operators who were flexible, consultative, and adapted to changing consumer behaviors.”

About Technology

  • 49% of respondents said attending a livestream service “shows how much I care”
  • 44% expect livestreaming of services will be available permanently
  • 79% are unwilling to pay for livestreaming despite the expectation of its inclusion

About Convenience

  • 21% of respondents say they will pay more for technologies and approaches that increase convenience
  • 15% now expect “house calls”
  • 74% of respondents expect to view pricing online while 65% expect to view products online

About Pre-Planning

  • 75% say it’s important to have pre-planned funeral arrangements, a 30% increase vs. pre-pandemic
  • That increases to 80% if respondents experienced a death in the last 6 months
  • Those who experienced a death plan to spend $700+ more than those who didn’t.
  • Hispanic, African American, Jewish, and Catholic respondents are more likely to pre-plan

Those who experienced new things are also changing another tradition – that of celebrating life on-site at the funeral home. Sixty-three percent of consumers say a big celebration of a life event is important to them, and 49% will consider conducting a celebration outside the traditional location of the funeral home and cemetery. This is especially true of the Hispanic, Asian, younger, and higher-income consumers, which all have a higher propensity to look for new locations to celebrate.

“Consumers are demonstrating a renewed desire to celebrate life and to pre-plan, bucking decades of traditions of where and when celebrations happen, and the business implications for owner-operators have seismically shifted over the last 12 months,” Cruger said. “The future is bright for those businesses who adapt and embrace these changes and act as true Last Responders. Conversely, those who don’t adapt risk becoming commoditized.”

Analysts have widely speculated about how the pandemic will impact behaviors in the death care services business, especially in a year where 43% of consumers over the age of 45 report that they have experienced the death of a friend or family member.

Edited by Maryssa Gordon, Senior Editor, Price of Business Digital Network

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