As Baby Boomers enter a life stage when they are thinking about end-of-life issues, it’s more important than ever for funeral professionals to understand their attitudes and preferences. Whether or not Boomers are ready to make advance funeral plans for themselves at this point, their perceptions of funeral service will shape the profession in the coming years.
Most demographers split Boomers into two groups: those born between 1946 and 1955 (who came of age in the 1960s) and those born between 1956 and 1964 (who came of age in the 1970s).
Leading-edge Boomers experienced tremendous social and political upheaval during their formative years, including high-profile assassinations and the Vietnam War. This earlier group of Boomers may share common characteristics such as being individualistic and social-cause oriented.
The later group of Boomers grew up during Watergate, the Cold War, the oil crisis and high inflation. They tend to be less optimistic and more distrusting.
There are several considerations that funeral professionals should take into account when working and communicating with clients in this demographic:
- They are the first group of people turning age 65 who believe they have 20+ years to live – and with advances in health care and a societal focus on wellness, they may be right.
- According to a 2011 Associated Press survey, 73% were planning to work past retirement.
- They may be budget-conscious because they are providing financial support for dependents.
- Their desires for memorialization are likely quite different than those from previous generations.
Funeral professionals have an opportunity to serve people in this demographic by actively promoting the value of your services and supporting the end-of-life issues they may be facing. Be sure to recognize that those concerns may not be their own. Some studies show that up to 60% of Boomers will bear the responsibility of simultaneously caring for their dependent children and their elderly or ill parents.
This “sandwich generation” phenomenon can have both positive and negative implications for preneed funeral planning. While Boomers are beginning to embrace the life celebration concept for funeral service, their priorities and resources may be focused on the more immediate issues related to caring for family members.
In order to build an organization that demonstrates it wants to – and is capable of – providing value and service to Baby Boomers, you must understand what’s important to them. Reaching a new audience demands different tactics, including messaging and methods of communication.
Your funeral home’s brand proposition must be examined: What do Boomers and other consumers in your area perceive and believe about your firm’s accessibility and willingness to meet their needs, compared to your competitor(s)? Homesteaders offers robust local market and demographic research services that can illuminate consumer attitudes and perceptions in your area. Contact your account executive for more information.
This post has been adapted from an article that appeared in the myHomesteaders newsletter. To learn how you can subscribe to this digital publication, contact your account executive.