They’ve already killed mayonnaise, diamonds, car ownership, and hotels, if the headlines of the past decade are to be believed. Millennials– contrarian, non-traditional, and non-conformist. Is there no industry they wouldn’t kill?
Are funerals next?
Cold-blooded Industry Killers?
Before we answer, let’s talk about how millennials have “killed” things in the past. A millennial was born, according to the Pew Research definition, some time between 1981 and 1996, making your average about 32 years old by now. By that count, you’re looking at this generation making up 35% of the workforce today, larger than any other generation, and have significant spending power. In the United States alone, they spend $600 billion on shopping.
With that sort of spending power, it’s really a case of adapt or die for today’s companies; either change the way you market or develop your products and services to adapt to the largest new market segment, or be left behind, like so many casual dining restaurants going out of business.
Are Funerals Dead?
Going back to funerals, does it look like they’re next on the millennial hit list?
Millennials are a “death positive” generation, being able to openly discuss their funeral plans. A 2017 study by Nathan Gerard showed that the generation displayed a higher willingness to have discussions about end-of-life care and dying.
Ask a Mortician, a YouTube channel with more than one million subscribers, has Los Angeles-based mortician Caitlin Doughty fielding questions and talking about funeral options and industry trends. She also encourages a positive mindset about the prospect of death, urging her subscribers to do the same.
In keeping with the millennial need for buck tradition, though, the funerals this generation is planning are highly-individualized affairs. One in four, according to a study by a cremation company, want to have their ashes pressed into vinyl records.
The Funeral Industry is Going Through Changes
Cremations have long been on the rise, across generations, with cremations overtaking burials in 2015. To adapt to the millennial thirst for personalization and authenticity, however, the more forward-thinking elements of the funeral industry are already including non-traditional options in their list of services.
Funeral services offer burials in protected woodlands, with graves marked with a tree instead of a headstone. Some are opting for space funerals, shooting their ashes into orbit.
Others are still offering “green funerals,” forgoing embalming, and in some cases the metal casket and other traditional funeral accouterments. Instead, they offer burial in a cotton shroud, minimizing the environmental impact.
A Future for Funerals
With a growing part of the population showing interest in non-traditional funeral arrangements, modern funeral directors need to get with the times. The template for funerals, unchanged for such a long time, will not apply to this new, death-positive generation.
The past years have seen a steady increase in both basic and discretionary funeral costs. In 2010, the average spending on a funeral was £4602. By 2018, that figure had risen to £6332.
Funerals, like death, aren’t going away any time soon. As funeral homes adapt to the needs of their clients, and with a growing openness by millennials to discuss funeral and estate plans, we can rest assured that it will remain a thriving and more dynamic industry in the years to come.