Survey: Families Share Why They Choose Cremation Over Traditional Funerals
Cremation has always been the ugly duckling of the funeral profession… at least to funeral professionals. Sure, we offer the option to our families, and we happily walk them through any and all questions they may have about the process. But, at the same time, many of us still secretly curse under our breath every time we get a call requesting our cremation prices.
However, if funeral professionals would stop comparing cremation to the traditional funerals they have always known and loved, they would begin to see that it really isn’t an ugly duckling at all. It has all of the potential in the world to become a meaningful, unique service option for the families we serve, while also being a valuable asset (and even a successful revenue source) for funeral homes.
However, our own negative bias towards cremation isn’t the only one that we need to fight against in the funeral profession… families are also choosing cremation for all of the wrong reasons. In a recent survey conducted by funeralOne, we took a look at people’s biggest motivations behind choosing cremation over a traditional funeral service:
In this survey of 1,171 men and women throughout the United States, we were unsurprised to see that people’s biggest motivation for choosing cremation over a traditional burial was a lower cost (40.7% of those surveyed). The rest said that they would choose cremation as a way to scatter ashes in a meaningful way (24.3%), a way to keep their loved one close at home (14.8%), or simply because it was an easy choice that required few decisions (20.1%).
Why were we not surprised to see that a lower price point was people’s biggest motivator when choosing cremation? Because very few funeral professionals advertise the other values that this end-of-life option can bring to families, so how could they possibly be motivated by anything else?
The truth is families want a way to celebrate and honor their loved one, and they understand the importance of the tradition of funerals… but other than that, very few families know the wide variety of options that are available to them. Just take a look at the survey we conducted last year…
Over half of respondents (51.9%) felt that funerals were an important tradition in life, while an additional 15.9% felt that funerals were necessary, even if they didn’t quite understand their value.
So what should funeral professionals do with this information? First, it’s about time that funeral professionals begin valuing cremation just as much as they value traditional burial, because if they don’t, then their families never will. And if families don’t value your services, they will always, always, always choose the low cost option.
How To Create Value In Your Services… Even Cremation
1. Work the importance and tradition of funerals into the cremation process
Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to sit in on a super valuable session with NFDA’s Mike Nicodemus where he talked about the different ways to market cremation in a way that will change your business. In this session, he shared the following insight:
“There is one fact that all funeral professionals should know – cremation families are only sure of one thing, and it’s that they want cremation. That means that, very rarely, will your families be the first to mention a cremation service, personalization options, cremation burial, or of any other of the service options you offer, because they don’t know they exist. While most of our families believe they are informed, most are actually unaware of the choices they have.”
As funeral professionals, it is up to us to educate our families on the services and value that we offer. It’s hard not to automatically begin sorting a families needs into whatever box you think would best suit them, but it’s important to truly listen to their needs and keep all your expectations aside. For example, if a cremation family keeps making references to their loved one’s favorite park, or a certain spot that was important to their loved one, let them know that they can work that spot into the service.
Many families also assume that they have to make all of their decisions right away, which can add stress to the situation. However, with cremation, a celebration of life service or a scattering ceremony can happen months or even years after the person has passed. Let your families know about the many options that can go hand in hand with cremation, so they can begin to put as much value in this service as they do a traditional burial.
2. Be aware of today’s families changing needs
One interesting insight that we gained from our cremation survey was the difference in motivations between different age groups. Younger respondents chose “wanting to spread ashes in a meaningful way” as their main motivator for choosing cremation, while older individuals put their focus on a lower cost. In fact, over 50% of people aged 55+ chose “a lower cost” as their mainmotivation for choosing cremation over a traditional burial.
Keep this in mind when marketing to the changing families that are walking through your door, as not every family is going to value the same thing. Baby boomers need to be educated more on the value that comes with a traditional burial so that they don’t automatically opt for the most inexpensive options. However, younger generations want to learn more about the personalized aspect of cremations and how they can make the traditional funeral even more valuable to them.
3. Educate your families before they even walk through your doors
Funeral arrangements are awkward for families, even if they have been through the process before. Not only are they in a very emotional place when these discussions start, but they are making decisions that they don’t fully understand, and are relying on someone they have never met to guide them through the right choices.
So to help make this experience a little easier, many people will take to the internet to try and learn as much as they can about the funeral process before actually making these decisions. And if you do not already have educational information on cremation and personalized funeral services on your website, families will look for another funeral home that does.
Your website is a great platform to arm your families with the knowledge and understanding that they need to make this process as simple and comfortable as possible for them. Whether it’s a simple pre-planning checklist, a resource page, or even examples of the different service options that they could choose for their loved one, these simple options can make a world of difference to families who are unfamiliar with the process.