It first hit the entertainment industry, with Netflix running Blockbuster out of almost every town. Then it came to transportation, as Uber and Lyft sped past traditional taxis. Now it’s seemingly everywhere, from the hotel industry to retail — and yes, even the funeral profession. Disruption is more than just a buzzword. Traditional professions and industries are feeling the very real impact of disruption and change.
But what exactly is disruption? And how is it impacting traditional funeral service?
Disruption is a word that gets thrown around a lot by marketers and tech-savvy startups. And, as with any fancy buzzword, try Googling what it is, and you’ll get thousands of different definitions.
So how can we define disruption? Well, the first thing you should know is that the word disruption might sound a lot worse than it really is. When talking about disruption — in any field of business — what people really mean is disruptive innovation. Innovation sounds good, right? But then what is disruptive innovation, exactly?
The best definition we’ve seen is from Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen. In his book, the Innovator’s Dilemma, he uses the phrase disruptive innovation as a way businesses could use emerging technology to redefine how they do business as well as capture new customer markets.
When put that way, it’s easy to see how the funeral profession is currently being disrupted. And right now, there are three big factors that are currently making the funeral profession ripe for disruption.
When discussing disruption — in any business — technology always comes up. It might have taken a bit longer for technology to impact the funeral profession, but there’s no denying it now.
The most obvious way is with our memorials. QR code memorial gravesites, talking tattoos, digital urns, online memorial websites and tributes — these are just a few of the ways our memorials have gone high-tech.
But there are other ways technology is making waves. One prime example is with disposition. Cremation may be king at the moment, but alkaline hydrolysis — or flameless cremation — is gaining ground. And thanks to technology, mushroom suits and biodegradable urns are making green options more popular.
Thanks to the internet, today’s families also are more educated than before. They have the ability to research different disposition methods, funeral home options, celebrants, and other funeral trends. As families become more educated, it causes a shift in their wants and needs for a funeral service.
Changing Traditions and Societal Norms
Another factor that’s left the funeral profession ripe for disruption is society itself. More specifically, our society’s changing norms and views.
A big factor is the decline of religion. A recent study from the NFDA found that “38.7% of consumers said religion was a ‘very important’ component of a funeral,” and this is down from 49.5% in 2012.
This decline directly influences families’ funeral preferences. It’s one of the big reasons cremation keeps growing. But there also are other societal changes impacting the funeral profession.
For example, today’s families are more open about discussing death than in the past. Death positive movements have helped make personalization and funeral “celebrations” more popular choices for today’s families.
New Competition in the Funeral Profession
Traditional funeral homes also face more competition, including:
- Direct cremation centers
- All-in-one life celebration centers
- Funeral startups
Yep, funeral startup companies. As with any profession that’s being disrupted, startups can be found. And they keep popping up. We Googled the phrase “Funeral Startups,” and here are just a few of the many article headlines we found:
- Future Funerals: How Death Is Slowly Being Disrupted
- Start-Ups for the End of Life
- These Startups Want To Kill The Coffin
- The Rise Of Funeral Startups
- Parting: A Startup Finally Lifts The Veil On Funeral Parlor Prices
With all this change on the horizon, it begs the question, how will your funeral home adapt? Share your ideas with us in the comments!
Make sure you have what you need to succeed. Download our free guide for how your funeral home can prepare for success and adapt for the future.