Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Value in the eyes of a Baby Boomer

Rich Darby,
Chief Operating Officer
This article originally appeared in September issue of The Cremationist.

Why do you think cremation is gaining popularity? Shifting demographics, incomes and religious beliefs have all played a role one time or another in the increase of the cremation rate. I think a lot of families who choose cremation would say that they are looking for the best value for their money. But what do they really mean by “value?”

In my experience, they are either focused on the price or on what the price will get them. They are either searching for the cheapest, fastest solution, or they want a special blend of traditional and unique created just for them.

These are both hallmark characteristics of Baby Boomers, people born during the World War II era from 1946 to 1964, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They are independent, challenge the norm and want things their way. They not only forced our industry to change our perspective on cremation, but they also constantly challenge the status quo. They make up an ever-increasing portion of the families we serve. To remain viable, it’s important to understand how they see value.

Cheap and fast or breaking the norm: How to talk to them…
This could prove to be a difficult task if you try to play master to both segments. As the owner of several funeral homes and a cemetery, I can tell you the way we have found success is to stay true to the type of business you have built over the years. Instead of being the lowest priced option, demonstrate that you are the best value for their money.

If you’re working with a family who equates value with the lowest price, you could say they have a “Wal-Mart mentality.” They believe cheaper is better. But, what do you really get with the lower price? They get lower quality products. They ignore how great service makes them feel. They forget that they only have one chance to honor their loved one’s life.

When you work with a family like this, it is the most important time to stand firm in who you are and what you do. You need to explain to them the emotional and healing benefits of having a service. You need to listen to their concerns and find creative solutions. And sometimes, you have to stop spending energy creating special deals for those who aren’t looking for the quality of care you have worked so hard to provide your community.

If you’re working with a family who understands real value – or who comes around when you explain the value of your services– help them design the unique experience they want. Reinforce the value that they receive beyond the price tag. Give them something truly memorable.

If the Baby Boomer generation has taught us anything, it is to stay true to who we are and constantly challenge the norm. With the ever-changing funeral market, we can’t waste our time on things that don’t matter. We have to stick to our guns and give the best service possible. The families we serve deserve it.

So, what’s it mean to be a “Boomer?”
According to the Cremation Association of North America’s cremation statistics, up until about 1965, the cremation rate was flat at around four percent, and since then it has dramatically increased to an average of about 44 percent. If you do the math, it isn’t hard to explain the increase in cremation. In the early to mid-70s, the first Baby Boomers were entering their thirties and were beginning to make funeral arrangements for their parents. The cremation rate at this time was between four-and-a-half and six-and-a-half percent. By 2005, over half of the Baby Boomers were 50 years old or older, and beginning to pre-plan their own final wishes. By this time, the cremation rate had escalated to approximately 32 percent. The Baby Boomers interest in cremation and their constant desire to go against the norm has proven to increase interest in cremation as a way for final disposition.

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