Casket Merchandising and The Hawthorne Effect
Article originally appeared on Funeral Home Consulting
The Hawthorne effect occurs when individuals modify or improve an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed. The concept is more simple than it sounds. People change their behavior when they are being observed. Where this applies to casket merchandising is subtle but important.
The profession has come to rely on a system of passive selling. Rather than assuming the role of professional expert and consultant we prefer to create physical systems to “sell” our customers. Our faith in these systems (called showrooms) is so strong that we have become ultra sensitive to any changes. So, if we make changes the results actually occur in us and not in the customer.
Whether the result is positive or negative depends on our belief in the system. So, if you spend $50,000 to build a retail style room with special lighting AND YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT IT your customers will respond in kind to your enthusiasm. and when you eventually get bored with it they follow your lead.
One funeral director prefers a Batesville style show room, another likes the Aurora electronic showroom. The results are the same because they are dependent on the attitude and belief system of the funeral director.
But none of that is my point
Physical merchandise is a distraction. None of us have ever heard of a family choosing a funeral home because of its caskets. Moreover, funeral directors frequently tell me that families often have no recollection of the casket they purchased months later.