As we wait for the findings from ACCC inquiry into the funeral industry, eziFunerals is mindful of similar inquiries in the UK and other countries.
The main focus of these inquiries – and the media coverage around them – has been cost. Are funeral costs going up or down? Are prices transparent? What can we do to help consumers with the cost of funerals? And so on.
Although the focus on cost is important, we would argue that this is not necessarily what most consumers want or need. If the sole focus of the ACCC inquiry is to simply make traditional funerals cheaper, then they may be missing the point.
When we talk about cost with our customers, we find that what they are really wanting is value. Sure, people aren’t happy paying $10,000 for a traditional funeral – but in many cases, they wouldn’t be happy paying $2,000 for it either. It’s just that cost is not what matters.
Consumers are starting to push back
When someone dies, families are under a great deal of pressure to organise a funeral, generally for the first time. They are not sure what to do, what they want or who to trust. They are not in any state to research different options available to them. And that’s where consumers are beginning to push back.
New tech startups, such as Bare Cremation, are taking advantage of this push back. They are spending large sums of money offering cheap cremation ads on your daily Facebook feeds. Their ads typically target consumers who are deliberately rebelling against a traditional funeral, based on cost alone.
Although we have seen an increase in cheap cremation, in part due to Covid restrictions, it’s our view that this doesn’t mean this will be the way the market will go or that it’s what consumers really want.
When we speak to our customers, we are finding that consumers are becoming more informed and are beginning to ask questions from providers offering bare-bones cremation – Why are they so cheap? What are you really getting for that price? How will they care for your loved one? How will they transfer the body to the crematorium? Are they using a subcontractor? Will there be multiple bodies in the transfer van?
Once consumers are more informed, we are finding that they tend to look for alternative options. For these consumers, it’s not just about cost.
So, what do consumers actually want?
eziFunerals has been reviewing the choices consumers are making, via our online platform, to better understand consumer needs. What we are finding is that consumers want a greater choice of options and value for money.
Funeral directors need to start thinking outside the box, without pushing the bias of a traditional funeral. The funeral industry is changing rapidly to meet customer needs. Families are seeking different services and different ways to interact with funeral directors.
If independent funeral directors are not prepared to keep up with the pace of change, to invest in technology or partner with technology providers, then they will stagnate. Those funeral directors that entrench solely around their traditional offerings and reliance on walk-ins for customer acquisition will slowly but surely die out.
Independent funeral directors need to be open to a new way of working and adapt to the changes it will bring. Funeral directors who embrace change and develop new products and partnerships to serve changing consumer needs will flourish.
Change is coming. Let’s embrace it, work together and better serve the families who need our help.
eziFunerals supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company, and are not a subsidiary of any other corporation. We do not conduct funerals and we are not part of any other funeral company.