Cremation as a Catalyst for Prearranging

At Homesteaders, we’re committed to helping our funeral home customers better serve families who choose cremation. One way we do this is through semi-annual policy owner surveys, which help gather the perspectives of preneed families who funeral professionals serve every day.

Our 2015 survey explored the connection between cremation and prearrangement via responses from 1,200 participants. One of the questions asked was, “What was the main reason you decided to make these plans now, instead of last year or next year?” The second highest reason for taking action, behind having a friend or family member die recently, was that the policy owner finally knew what arrangements he or she wanted. Interestingly, policy owners who included cremation in their arrangements were significantly more likely to report this as their motivation than those who did not include cremation (23% vs. 11%).

A 2015 study conducted by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC) included a question for consumers regarding their preference for prearranging and priorities for making advance funeral plans. The study found that the top priority for those who prefer to prearrange would be their preference for cremation services. These numbers represent a significant increase over the 2010 study.

What do these results mean? They might mean that once individuals decide that they want to be cremated, they want to do as much as possible to ensure their wishes are carried out. Leaving this decision to chance may feel risky in case family members either are unaware of their loved one’s wishes or unlikely to choose cremation at the time of need. Prearranging is the best solution for ensuring final wishes are both known and followed.

Another connection cremation consumers have with prearranging is that they are significantly more likely than those who didn’t choose cremation to have recommended prearranging to someone else. In our 2015 survey, close to half (46%) of policy owners who included cremation in their arrangements reported they had recommended prearranging to another person. Just over one-third (36%) of the policy owners who did NOT choose cremation indicated the same.

Word-of-mouth recommendations can be very powerful marketing tools. Funeral homes with consumer advocates for their firm’s service offerings can benefit greatly from these kinds of personal endorsements. Not only is word of mouth a very cost-effective form of marketing for the funeral home, it’s also quite impactful. Consumers often assign more credibility to recommendations from people they know than they do to information coming directly from a business. They expect a funeral home to promote the benefits of prearranging and are more likely to put stock into what they perceive as unbiased peer recommendations.

We all know the primary messages surrounding the benefits of preneed are focused on eliminating the burden from family. Perhaps another approach would be to reassure consumers, especially those who choose cremation, that their exact wishes will be carried out if they prearrange. By using cremation as a catalyst for prearrangement, funeral homes can lock in future business while simultaneously meeting a significant consumer demand.

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