5 Thought-Provoking Research Highlights on the Future of Funerals

Everyone is talking about the future of funerals.

And whether or not we like it, it’s here. Things are changing, and they have been for over a decade.

Families are looking for more options. And their needs are – for better or worse – shaping our future.

So what’s changing this year? What trends are emerging that are worth looking at? What are families looking for in 2019? We answer some of these questions in our summary of the NFDA Consumer Preference Survey; sharing some incredible insights into where we’re headed.


#1: Why families will choose a funeral home in 2019

When it comes to choosing a funeral home, it seems that trust is key this year. In fact, more than 60% of respondents choose a funeral home because of the established trust and connection they had with their local funeral home.

But that doesn’t mean that you only need to wait around for your loyal client families to knock on your door. There are almost half the families out there that are still looking for a trustworthy funeral home to rely on during their time of need.

So how can you create relationships built on trust with members of your community outside of your funeral home is key. You can do this on your website, with events workshops, or through your funeral marketing efforts. There are many avenues to spark relationships with families that don’t start with a sales conversation.

Our prediction: Those funeral homes who truly embrace their community and partner up with other businesses with the same values and missions will be the funeral homes who stick around and remain successful.

#2: The most important elements of a funeral service in 2019

When it comes to the actual funeral service, what is it that families desire most? We weren’t surprised to see “affordable cost” at the top of the list, with 59% of families citing this as the key factor when it comes time to making decisions.

It’s important to note that since NFDA chose to use the term “affordable cost” vs. “low cost” (which they used in 2017), more families chose this option. The insight here? Affordable cost implies value, while low cost does not. So if you’re wanting to offer lower cost funerals, be sure to lead with value first, because that’s truly what families are looking for.

Want to know what else is important for families when planning a funeral service? Here are the top 3 runners up to “affordable cost”:

  • 50.5% of families want a gathering of family and friends
  • 45.7% of families want photos being displayed of their loved one
  • 44.5% of families want to honor the wishes or pre-arrangements of the loved one

Other important elements mentioned were personalized music, cremation, a celebration of life, and convenience for family and guests.

Tip: If you’re looking for the right software to offer your families the celebration of life they’re looking for, try a 30-day free trial of the best all-in-one personalization software around, Life Tributes.


#3: What type of disposition do families prefer?

Some new trends are rising in the realm of disposition in 2019. Methods like green burials and alkaline hydrolysis, and even donation of the body for medical research have begun to gain popularity.

However, cremation still remains the cream of the crop. In fact, NFDA estimates that within 20 years, the cremation rate will increase to nearly 80 percent of all deaths. In the NFDA Consumer Preference Survey, respondents cited the perceived lower cost as primary reason for why they prefer cremation.

Our prediction: More affordable and earth-friendly disposition methods will start to enter the market, becoming another competitor to cremation and burial.


#4: Where do the families of the future want to celebrate life?

One thing was for certain in this survey — families are looking for non-traditional venues for their loved one’s celebration. In fact, more than half of today’s families are already choosing non-traditional locations. Some trends are emerging, but we feel that there is a huge opportunity here to expand on venue options and ideas for those funeral entrepreneurs who feel up for the challenge!


#5: How families find you online

In the consumer survey, NFDA found that two-thirds of people call ZERO funeral homes for inquiries before selecting one. That points to the importance of offering value to your potential client families without a phone call to the funeral home.. So how can you do that? We’ve found that creating a funeral home website that serves as a resource for families is how you create value for them right off the bat.

A funeral home website which offers your community a convenient place to purchase flowers and gifts, read obituaries, send condolences on social memorial websites, or find service information is worth more than gold. Once families are on your website, they want to see things like: average price information, a list of service options available, a step-by-step guide to planning a funeral and a funeral planning checklist.

Tip: The f1Connect all-in-one website platform can help you increase credibility and offer the services family members are searching for. Learn more here.


Summing it all up

Things are constantly changing and evolving,  and it’s important to keep up with these changes. How can you do that?

Start talking. Talk with your families. With your allies. With your community. Heck, even with your competition. It’s time to start coming together for the sake of creating something new and improved in this profession, that families truly want.

We hope this article gave you some insight into the changes to make, but if you want more inspiration, check out some of these articles:


What insights have you gathered through working with families and your community? Tell us in the comments!


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  4. Shane Ritchie

    If I hear “celebration of life” one more time I’m going to puke. When my daughter died the last thing I wanted was to “celebrate”. I needed to mourn. We need to be educating people on why we’ve had funerals since the beginning of time and why we still need them today. Funeral directors are not “party planners” and should never be considered as such. Our modern culture is so off track it’s scary sometimes.

  5. Krystal Penrose

    Hi Shane, I hear where you’re coming from, your opinion is valuable! We believe there should be both elements. Celebrating someone is just as important as grieving them. However, when grief is numbed or neglected, there is a problem. What we found is that when people take the time to PLAN a celebration for their loved one, there is a lot of processing involved — more so than simply opting for a cookie cutter funeral that inspires no deep or meaningful conversations. So for us, it’s more about the PROCESS of planning, rather than the celebration. That’s where the medicine is.