Funeral Industry News

CANA Insights: Consumers Tell Us What We Can Do Better

November 14, 2019

CANA Insights: Consumers Tell Us What We Can Do Better

The Cremation Association of North America’s 101st Convention in Louisville, Kentucky this summer offered a chance to learn from some of the industry’s most respected experts. In one of the most informative presentations, though, attendees heard not from a death care professional, but from actual consumers who had experience with and insights into the cremation process.

South meets west

CANA Executive Director Barbara Kemmis and Homesteaders Life’s Pam Kleese presented “Cremation Is ______” The groundbreaking research they shared was gleaned from a series of focus group sessions with families who had recently opted for cremation for a loved one. The all-female participants were leading-edge baby boomers aged 64 to 73. 

Two locations, Phoenix and Nashville, were selected for the focus groups because of their varying cremation rates. “Phoenix has traditionally had a higher cremation rate,” shared Kleese, “and Nashville’s rate is starting to grow.” According to 2018 CANA statistics, Arizona had a 61% to 70% cremation rate, while Tennessee had the fifth-lowest ranking in the U.S. at 35.1%. 

“It was the first cremation experience for more people in the Nashville group,” said Kemmis. “In Phoenix, cremation was more of the norm.”

Interestingly, despite these differences, groups from both locations related similar feedback about cremation and the directors they worked with. The 30+ participants “really wanted to talk about this,” said Kemmis. “They were eager to share their experiences. It seemed that many of them weren’t able to share this with their own families.”

Straight talk

In candid discussions led by a third party, focus group participants produced a wealth of uncensored information that Kemmis and Kleese were excited to share with CANA’s convention attendees. Some of the focus group participants’ comments might have been hard to hear, but it’s not often that professionals get access to this type of feedback.

“It’s very powerful when you hear it straight from the person’s mouth,” said Kleese. 

Kemmis and Kleese carefully analyzed each of the six sessions. They presented the feedback at CANA as seven valuable insights into consumers’ behavior and attitudes toward cremation:

  • Consumers want you to focus on the person, not the body
  • Cremation offers connection and flexibility
  • Cremation also provides simplicity and satisfaction
  • Is it about price? Yes and no
  • Provider perceptions vary
  • Knowledge gaps exist
  • Language disconnects exist

In keeping with the title of the presentation, attendees learned not only what cremation is, but also what it’s not, for these consumers.

Bottom line

If you attended the CANA convention, you probably had at least a handful of takeaways from this session. The session offered opportunities for funeral homes, cemeteries, and even suppliers to better serve families.

Over the next few weeks, Connecting Directors will present a series of articles focusing on these insights. In addition to a recap of the focus group feedback, we’ll offer some concrete considerations for today’s death care professionals. We’d like to thank Barbara Kemmis and Pam Kleese in advance for their hard work as well as their participation in his series of articles.