Every two years, Homesteaders surveys our policy owners to learn more about their preferences, motivations, behaviors and attitudes toward prearranging. The data we have received since our first survey in 2008 has been tremendously valuable in identifying why consumers decide to plan and fund their funerals in advance.
The most encouraging metric is that our policy owners continue to express high levels of satisfaction with their experience. In fact, 100% of respondents to our 2017 survey were satisfied with their decision to prearrange. Ninety-six percent would consider recommending it to someone else, and 42% of respondents had already recommended prearranging within two months of finalizing their own arrangements.
This is good news. Prearranging is a smart choice for consumers and a valuable offering for funeral homes, and it’s also a service that your client families really want and need. Unfortunately, many consumers do not take steps to finalize their own arrangements – even though they believe it is a good thing to do.
There’s a wealth of opportunity for funeral professionals to educate consumers on the benefits of prearranging, and what better way to do that than by sharing the reasons people like them have already chosen to finalize their funeral plans?
Below, we’ve collected some of the most helpful insights into why people decide to prearrange.
The vast majority of Homesteaders policy owners – 82% – are married or widowed when they finalize their arrangements. These two demographics are represented at a higher percentage among policy owners than the population at large, indicating that individuals who are or have been married are more likely to prearrange their funerals.
This is not surprising. When asked to rate the importance of common preneed motivators, 83% of respondents to our 2017 survey rated eliminating the emotional burden from a spouse as extremely important. Eliminating the financial burden was assigned the same importance by 79% of respondents. Making decisions with a spouse was another top motivator, with 79% of respondents rating it as extremely important.
These metrics make a lot of sense. The average age for a Homesteaders policy owner is 73, and those who are married have likely spent the majority of their lives sharing decisions and burdens with their spouses. It’s sensible for them to want to care for their spouses after they are gone by taking care of the arrangements and expense in advance, and even more understandable that they want to make those decisions together.
Among the most common preneed motivators, the two rated extremely important by the largest percentage of respondents had to do with children. Nine out of 10 respondents marked eliminating the emotional and financial burdens from their descendants as extremely important motivators to prearranging.
Those motivations are often linked to another common reason consumers decide to prearrange – fulfilling personal responsibility. When we’ve asked past survey respondents to describe their satisfaction with prearranging, they often cite positive feelings that emerge from having taken on responsibility for an important task:
- “I think everyone should do it so it doesn’t fall on someone else.”
- “I’m just so happy that I got it done.”
- “I feel very good about it. I have no regrets.”
Prearranging is seen by many policy owners as the final gift they leave behind for surviving loved ones – and this is especially true for those with spouses and children who would otherwise be responsible for making decisions and covering the cost of funeral services.
We know that nearly all consumers who prearrange would consider recommending it to a friend or family member. It’s logical, then, that 56% of respondents to our 2017 policy owner survey cited a close friend or family member as the first person to tell them about advance funeral planning. Fewer than one in five respondents reported first hearing about prearranging from a funeral professional.
More and more purchase decisions rely on recommendations from a consumer’s social network – trusted friends, relatives and advisors. In fact, marketing experts estimate that word-of-mouth recommendations influence up to 50% of all purchases. Friends and relatives can have a tremendous impact over a consumer’s decision to prearrange.
The recent loss of a friend or family member is also a common reason policy owners decide to finalize their arrangements. Nearly one in five respondents to Homesteaders’ 2017 survey cited a recent loss as the catalyst for making their own advance funeral plans.
Personal preference also plays a significant role in a consumer’s decision to prearrange. A number of respondents – 83% – cited selecting their own arrangements as an extremely important motivation to prearrange. These consumers want to have control over the choices that are made after they pass away, and prearranging offers an opportunity to finalize those decisions in advance.
Many consumers are also motivated by the potential cost savings associated with some advance funeral plans. Locking in prices was an extremely important motivator to 81% of respondents to our 2017 survey, which indicates that consumers who prearrange also want to feel like they are making a smart financial decision.
One respondent to a previous survey compared her experience prearranging to the satisfaction she felt when she purchased discounted goods and services: “It’s like when you buy a dress on sale. You feel good. You’re saving money. You’re pleased with yourself. You say, ‘I’m smart.’”
These are all powerful motivators for consumers who choose to prearrange, and it’s likely the same things will impact many of your client families’ decisions to finalize their own arrangements.
Keep in mind that consumers often take several weeks or months to finalize their own arrangements, even after they first consider doing so. In fact, more than one in four respondents reported two or more years elapsing between their initial consideration and the completion of paperwork. It’s a process for these client families – one that you can make easier by educating them on all their options and offering them space to make decisions in an environment that feels safe and comfortable.