What Baby Boomers Want From Funerals (And Aren’t Telling You)

Funeral professionals have relied on the same tried-and-true methods for years—bringing families into your funeral home through word-of-mouth recommendations or counting on the basic name recognition that comes with having a small, local business. And because these ways of attracting families have always worked fine in the past, you may have never really had a great need for next-generation marketing efforts.

But population demographics are changing quickly, and soon enough, the way that your funeral home markets your products and services will need to adapt to stay relevant in the new, evolving world of funerals.

By 2017, it’s expected that members of the baby boom generation will make up half the entire population. And funeral directors are going to need to embark on new methods and change their thinking in order to provide families with the service that they truly want and expect from a funeral. Otherwise, funeral homes will surely get left behind.

Read on to discover five ways baby boomers’ expectations for funeral services may surprise you—and inspire a shakeup in this profession.

1. They’re online, and you need to be too.

There was a time when online shopping was thought of as something that was only done by Millennials (and that all online purchases were made through eBay). But the truth is, with today’s digital landscape and increased connectivity for all, just about everyone is taking to the Internet to research before they decide to buy, and funeral services are no exception.

Baby boomers have also caught up with technology and are going online… not just to comparison shop, but to read user reviews and research products and services. And if you want to catch and keep their attention, your funeral home needs to have a solid online presence. (This means more than having a simple website with a phone number to call.)

Your website needs to be dynamic and sophisticated, and it needs to let families access all the information they’re looking for with just a few simple clicks. Your online presence should also include answers to all the frequently asked questions your families are asking, and should clearly demonstrate the value of your services.

2. They want their lives celebrated with a customized service.

Everyone wants to feel like they’ve left a significant mark on the world, and baby boomers are no different. But the generic funeral services that families have accepted in the past for their loved ones just aren’t doing justice for today’s new families. Instead, your services should be unique to the life being celebrated, and you may find that you need to tailor your products to requests you may have never received before. Families now find comfort in a ceremony that’s reflective of their loved one’s personality, life goals, achievements and treasured moments.

When you can incorporate cherished photos full of memories, printed materials, personal songs and favorite readings into the service, baby boomers will appreciate that you have let their loved one’s personality shine through. So consider incorporating personal elements or symbols into your funeral services, so that family members can recognize each service as exclusive to their loved one.

3. They’ll splurge on a product, but only if it promises a good value.

Baby boomers have, as a generation, been the most minimally affected by economic fluctuations over the past few years. In fact, they’re even able to allocate more money to their “want-to-have” than to their “need-to-haves.” But that doesn’t mean they’re spending indiscriminately.

This generation knows a deal when they see one, and they’re not afraid to bargain shop. They want to find the best value in all of their products and services, from life insurance to their next meal out. And they’re happy to spend a nice chunk of change on things, including funeral service, but ONLY if they believe they’re getting a good value for their dollar.

As a funeral professional, it’s within your power to show families exactly how valuable your services are, and to provide your families with a reason to choose a service outside of direct cremation… which families typically choose when they don’t understand the value behind their other options.

Your website is the first place you can show client families how much you’re willing to provide them with and how your services will give them the most value for their money.

4. They want to hear objective reviews before deciding on a product.

Any service provider can take to the Web and sing their own praises, trying to convince you to choose them over their competitors. But baby boomers aren’t falling for old tricks and bright banners claiming your own value—they want proof.

First-hand testimonials are your best tool for gaining traction with your local community. Whether a family utilizes your service for their own loved one or they attend a service you’re hosting, they leave as potential word-of-mouth advertisers who will share their thoughts with families and friends.

So let everyone see the quality of your services every time. If you do, families will have an inclination to share their experiences and will happily provide a testimonial of your funeral home and services. These testimonials, whether featured on your website or shared by word-of-mouth, will turn out to be your most valuable method of encouraging families to select your services over another funeral home.

5. They want you to tell their life story while supporting their family and friends.

The truth of the matter for many baby boomers is this: as reluctant as they are to discuss their own future funeral services, they also want to be sure their services are appropriate and personalized to their life story. You’ll want to position your funeral home as respectful and thorough when it comes to the necessities of your role, but also be sure that the family and friends have their needs met when attending services for a loved one.

Be forthcoming with your formula for a funeral service and allow baby boomers and their families to understand the personalization options available to them. What sort of option is there for friends and family members to celebrate the life of their loved one within the service? What options are there for displaying personal artifacts and memorabilia? How are you the very best funeral director available to grieving families?  And how do your services and products support them once the funeral is over?

Your professional display of personalized and supportive services can help create a meaningful funeral, which is precisely what baby boomers and their families want and need the most.

Let baby boomers know you’re hearing them!

You can remain successful in this profession as a new generation—with different wants and needs—begins to comprise the majority of your market. But to do so, you must be willing and able to adapt and keep your funeral home and services relevant and meaningful.

By recognizing these truths about baby boomers, refocusing your products and services, and being able to provide for a new generation of client families, you can position yourself to be the right choice. And a lot of these changes you should make start with polishing up your online presence.

funeralOne can help you communicate the value and the importance behind the services that today’s baby boomers want in just a few simple clicks. With our f1Connect website platform, you can bring the products your families are searching for right to them, all before they even walk into your funeral home… leading to more satisfied families who will come back for your services time and time again.  Learn more and begin your free trial today.

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  1. Karen B. Kaplan

    As an officiant, I do all I can to make funerals tailor-made too. Interacting with people in a life-affirming way is what it is all about for me, including with mourners before, during and perhaps after the funeral.

  2. Peter Billingham

    Excellent post! It is so important what you are saying and most Funeral Directors are not embracing the changes that are coming their way. I am a celebrant in the UK and find many Funeral Directors are ignoring the impact the change of culture is going to have in the next few years. I’m also just writing a new book called Death Goes Digital about how Funeral Directors should use LinkedIn So I’m fully on board with your ideas!.