A new year means new changes. With 2017 on the horizon, we are interested in exploring the new ideas, trends, and technology that will start to shape new funeral traditions.
If we learned anything from 2016, it’s that families want new and personal experiences when crafting a memorial service to honor a loved one’s life story.
For insight on the funeral trends of 2017, we wanted to hear from funeral directors directly, because no one has better insight than those who serve their families every day. So now that our survey has wrapped up, we wanted to go over the input and insight we received from funeral directors all over the country.
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What do you think will be the biggest trends or changes seen in 2017?
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise, but an overwhelming number of funeral directors responded with cremation. We learned from an NFDA report earlier this year that cremation now outnumbers traditional burials. By 2017, it’s projected to go up even further with the cremation rate at 51.6% and burials falling to 42.3%.
The second biggest trend that funeral directors responded with was more emphasis on personalized and unique services. This trend shouldn’t come as a shock either. Cremation and personalization often go hand in hand, in part because cremation allows for greater levels of personalized memorial options than a traditional burial.
What new trends are you most excited about for 2017?
New funeral trends and changes aren’t necessarily good or bad, but some can definitely stir up some excitement. Let’s take a look at some of the responses:
“While I think cremation will continue to rise, it will be at a steady level. I am excited to see families begin to understand the importance of having a service to memorialize their loved one. I also think people will be more involved in creating the celebration.”
“The uniqueness of services.”
“Improvisational techniques funeral service professionals need to incorporate into their business lives to comfortably assist grieving families with any and all request they pose to us. The knowledge and grace to realize growth comes from change; and the courage to embrace new ideas.”
“Certainly technology, our funeral home is in Palo Alto, California, which, according to some, is the birthplace of Silicon Valley. I also feel very strongly about making services as unique, personal, and reflective of the person. I think it will prove to be more challenging than technology!”
What trends are you least excited for?
Here’s what some funeral directors are not looking forward to this next year.
“The decrease embalming rate.”
“Direct cremation by families who just don’t want anything.”
“The loss of religious services.”
What one trend do you think will separate 2016 from 2017?
2016 saw a lot of changes and a lot of them will continue to evolve in 2017. What’s the one thing that will make this year different entirely?
The most common response was to focus more on unique services — through either new technology or getting the family more involved.
“Services with an experience. With all the suppliers coming out with new ideas, we can build on those and create more personal and interesting services.”
“In order to remain relevant, funeral homes will have to be willing to listen to families and create meaningful funeral services. The funeral homes that are holding on to the olden days will start to go away.”
How prepared is your funeral home to meet new changes in 2017?
About 52% of the funeral directors that responded felt their funeral home was ready to meet the new changes and any challenges they might bring. About 33% felt they were somewhat prepared, and just over 14% felt that their funeral home needed to do more in order to prepare for coming changes.
What steps in 2017 will your funeral home take to meet new trends/changes?
The top three areas of focus that funeral directors chose were:
- Add new personalization options for funeral services.
- Incorporate more technology into memorial services.
- Enhance our aftercare program.
But some funeral directors had some great input of their own to add:
“Sending more of my staff to conventions to have them understand the excitement of learning new ideas and techniques our colleagues are trying.”