Millennials & Pet Deathcare: Using Consumer Personas To Ride The Wave of Success

As a funeral professional, you may have noticed a continuous shift in your client families’ spending behavior, preferences, likes, dislikes…

Heck, it’s never ending!

But did you know that four generational personality patterns repeat in a fixed order, about every 80 years?! This concept  is called Generational Constellation Theory.

But what does it mean for you?

Well, Generational Constellation Theory provides a framework for hypotheses about product and service innovation that could help pinpoint opportunities for your funeral business.  

ICCFA 2019 speaker, Chris Burke, spent his session explaining Generational Constellation Theory and uncovered a surprising key opportunity he discovered in his research.  

What is Generational Constellation Theory?

Looking back throughout history, generational cohort personalities seem to be repeating and unfolding predictably. A new generation appears every two decades or so. As one generation births and raises a new group of youths, they act in predictable ways.

Those childrearing practices create predictable outcomes in the next generation.  In this way, each new generation follows a cyclical pattern. They develop consistent personas within 4 personality patterns which are as follows:

1. Baby Boomers: This generation was born at the end of a war and had dominant personalities.

2. 13’ers or Gen-X: This generation was raised by the Baby Boomers who were tough parents. This generation became leaders during a time of civic unrest.

3. Millennials: These kids grew up during a recession and became very civic-minded.

4. Gen “Z” or Next Gen: These are youths who were born to parents who overcame a recession and then tried to protect them as much as possible.

A look at generational personality patterns

Through each of these generational cycles, we can start to understand the personality patterns that emerge as a result of their time in history. Check them out below:

1. Baby Boomers: “The Idealist”: Dominant, inner-fixated, increasingly indulged youths, moralistic, guides the next secular crisis.

2. Gen-X: “The Reactive” : Under-protected youths, mature into risk-taking adults, mid-life leaders during secular crisis.

3. Millennials: “The Civic”: Increasingly protected youths who come of age while overcoming a secular crisis.

4. Gen-Z: “The Adaptive”: They grew up overprotected and can mature into risk-averse adults.

The Millenial Cycle: What does it mean to the funeral profession?

We currently find ourselves in the Millenial Cycle. And over the course of this cycle so far, one very prominent development has unfolded. People are increasingly adopting and owning pets. And even more – pets are considered more and more like family. Chris Burke described how he has watched this trend. And with this trend, he has good news for funeral professionals.

The rise of pet deathcare among Millennials

Pet deathcare has been steadily increasing and will skyrocket in the next decade or so. Funeral professionals who are exploring or considering branching out will be thrilled with these stats:

  • Pet spending growth has skyrocketed. In 1994, it was at $6 billion, and has now doubled to $12 billion as of 2018.
  • Currently 76% of 18-24 year-olds in America own a pet, compared to 68% of the general population who have a pet.
  • 76% of Millennials said they would splurge on a pet.
  • Experts estimate the revenue for pet deathcare to be around $100 million a year and up.
  • Around 15% of funeral directors in America offer pet services.

How to break into the pet deathcare market

Contrary to your first reaction which is to market to pet owners, Burke urges funeral professionals to aim their marketing efforts to another group of individuals. This is because, in essence, pet death care is a“B2B2C” (Business  to Business to Consumer) industry, meaning that in order to break into the pet deathcare market, we must gain the trust of veterinarians first.

With this in mind, here are some helpful facts on veterinarians to consider:

  • Women veterinarians significantly outnumber men now
  • They are also increasingly Millenial women
  • Honesty and authenticity are two important values for them
  • They’re focused on giving pet parents sound advice
  • They’re very digitally native, or technologically connected
  • And finally, they’re very engaged with social media

With this information at hand, we can gather that earning the recommendation of veterinarians through transparent online marketing is vital. You can do this by leveraging social channels and technology tools that will move your business forward.

The key takeaway

With every generational cycle, new trends and ways to succeed will continue to emerge. Pet deathcare is a huge opportunity for the funeral profession. And for those who are ready to strap in and continue to adapt as we ride the waves of generational cycles, are the ones who will succeed. Why? Because at the end of the day, the funeral profession is about serving, and what better way to serve than to keep up with the needs of the market?


Have you considered expanding your business into pet deathcare? Tell us in the comments below!

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