What Millennials Think About The Funeral Industry (And Why It Matters)

Ahh, Millennials.

They might feel far away from your client family base, but in reality, they’re arriving into this space, and they’ll be around a while.

With so much technological experience and ambition in them, they’re likely to be some key players in the funeral profession very quickly here.

And in case you haven’t noticed, Millennials do things very differently than previous generations.

They’re a species of their own, and it matters what they like and why they like it, because their buying power is going to pack a powerful punch.

So, why not get to know them now?

Here are 8 things you should know about Millenials, and why they matter:

1. Millennials definitely don’t want to adhere to traditions

They’re typically more flexible and less attached to tradition. They tend to resist doing things a certain way just because that’s the way it’s always been done.

Why it matters: Being a profession that pretty much runs on tradition, we’re going to have to re-think the pillars that make up the meaning and value of funerals.

2. … and that includes religious affiliation

According to a study done by Connecting Directors, the number of religiously unaffiliated youth is staggering – nearly 75% of 18-24 year-olds in England say they have no religion. (source)

Why it matters: Since religion won’t be the foundation for many millennials’ funeral planning process, it’s good to think about what will, instead. What do non-religious folks in your community resonate with most when it comes to funeral planning? This is a good question to ponder now, and build on for later.

3. But no religion doesn’t mean Millennials don’t want a funeral

Many people in the funeral profession can quickly assume that having no religious affiliation destroys any desire for a meaningful ceremony or ritual at the time of death. But this is simply not true. Millennials will still want a funeral service, but as Jody Herrington, General Manager at Strong-Thorne Mortuary in Albuquerque explains so well, they will want.

“Home Funerals, Memorial Services in the park, Green Burials, these are just a few examples of ways in which the focus is taken away from a higher power and placed directly on the decedent where it belongs. It is in this kind of funeral where true healing begins for the non-believer. The authenticity found in this kind of service can lend itself to allowing the creative juices to flow.”

Why it matters: It’s important to start considering the personalization offerings you have at your funeral home that resonate with the quote above. How can you serve these families?

4. However, they want to get super creative with their final disposition

According to research from Simplicity Cremations, one in four young Brits want their ashes to be compressed into a vinyl record. In addition, nearly half of those who said they’d like to be cremated fancied the idea of turning their ashes into a diamond. Moreover, 25 percent of those under age 25 would like their ashes to be used to generate power.

Why it matters: Cremation isn’t necessarily the number one revenue generator, but partnering with businesses who offer these types of services could help you increase your revenue, even if just a little bit.

5. And they think cremation is scary for the environment

While cremation continues to pick up steam with the older folks, young people are questioning how “natural” it is. According to some estimates, the amount of energy required to cremate a body would power a 500-mile road trip.

Why it matters: Although cremation is expected to rise as the Baby Boomers continue to dominate the profession, there is a prevalence of greener options that younger generations are seeking. So instead of repeating history and putting all of your eggs in the cremation basket (just as many did with burial), start planning now for a shift or pivot in your funeral business.

6. Yet, they consider themselves to be very “death positive”

There’s a push for “death positivity,” amongst millennials, and many millennial funeral directors are actively looking for ways to let people take a more active role in the processes that surround death.

Why it matters: Again, instead of putting your eggs into one basket, consider experimenting with offerings centered around the millennial needs. Some of these ideas might include encouraging people to witness cremation, giving people more opportunities to care for the body of a loved one, and promoting eco-friendly options.

7. They want to incorporate technology into their funeral planning

Millennials breathe technology – though that may be an understatement. 53% of millennials said that they would rather get rid of their sense of smell than their digital devices!

Why it matters: The way we plan funerals now is primarily through physical interaction. But consider this: if we’re moving into a generation that uses technology SO much, how can we start to digitalize the way we plan funerals? How can we work with technology to embrace the future? Offering something like an interactive service selector tool on your website could be a really easy option (a product of f1Connect).

8. As well as a sense of community.

Millennials feel a sense of meaning from helping others. In fact, nearly 84% agree with the statement “knowing I am helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important to me than professional recognition.”

Why it matters: With the focus of a funeral shifting from one’s self, to helping others, maybe you could change the way people see funerals and planning funerals. Try creating a sense of community connection can be a pillar of your funeral business. Maybe hosting death cafes, or other community centered events that give Millennials (and Baby Boomers too) a sense of accomplishment by helping support others.

What have you noticed about Millennial client families? Share your insights with us in the comments below!