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Disrupting Death – Could This Be the Next Industry Ripe For Change?

Disrupting Death – Could This Be the Next Industry Ripe For Change?

By Susan Williams

“In this world nothing can said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

I was recently doing some online shopping on the Costco website when I happened to notice a new department – Funeral.

It sparked my interest so I thought I would take a peek and see what exactly was being sold under this category.

As it turns out you could purchase an urn or casket online (and fortunately the casket comes with expedited delivery).

I figured if Costco is getting into the business of death this has to be a growing industry – and I was right.

According to PBS, the funeral industry in the US is estimated to be a $20.7B industry with an estimated 2.4 million funerals per year. A typical funeral costs between $8000 – $10,000 US.

And this industry is just poised to boom.

Just look at how the world’s population is aging. The Business Insider reported;

“In 2012, 809 million people, or 11% of the world’s population, were over 60. By 2050, about 2 billion people are expected to be over 60, which represents 22% of the world’s population.”

Previously the management of dealing with death resided with smaller, independent local funeral homes and directors however corporations have now moved into this space.

For example, Service Corporation International is the largest death care service provider and are listed as being #465 on the 2018 Forbes Top 500 List (up from #729 in 2017).

So with this potential growth opportunity and in turn the money that also comes with it, could the business of death be the next business opportunity for disruption?

It has already started for funeral delivery.

As much as baby boomers insisted on changing things while they were living – they are also doing the same in how they are leaving.

Also Read: Baby Boomer Farewells – I’ll Go Out My Way

Custom caskets, green funerals, funeral webcasts and writing their own obituaries are just some of the changes currently underway.

But is the funeral business really ready for a major shakeup?

Here are just a few areas I believe are ripe for change;

Location Funerals

Why do funeral services need to be held in a funeral home or church? Could the service not be held in a more intimate and meaningful setting? A home, a park or someplace that meant something to the individual that is now departed.

Change the Caskets

With an average cost of a casket ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 that only then gets buried in the ground seems quite outrageous to me. Can you imagine what the impact could be if rather than spending that money it was donated to a cause that was important to the deceased. As they say you can’t take it with you. Maybe this is one expense that should be drastically reduced and the money left on this side of the earth.

Digital Death

Technology has taken over our lives while we’re here so it was only a matter of time until it infiltrated our death as well. Personal video obituaries, digital memories, funeral service streaming – it’s starting to emerge and I imagine the options in this area will continue to evolve and grow.

Life Celebration versus Depressive Death

The thought of people gathering together and crying over my death really saddens me. I would much rather see my friends and family celebrate my life then be depressed about my death.

With so many of us approaching the end line, I think we may become more comfortable about talking about death. And as we begin to accept our own mortality, we may also then begin to plan how we would like our lives to be remembered versus the sadness of us departing.

I can envision party planners or event coordinators starting to take a place in this space as people begin to pre-plan their own exits beyond the decision of whether they want to be buried or cremated.

Death Discounts

Many baby boomers have barely enough saved for retirement never mind an average funeral cost between $7,000 to $10,000.

There is definitely going to be more demand for services – but how will the supply change? Will more organizations come on the market and offer reduced priced products and services or will the demand stay high allowing the costs to remain high?

Death – it’s really the only certainty in life for all of us. So with the increasing demand and incoming money it certainly seems like it’s an industry just ripe for disruption.

Disrupting death – it sort of has a ring to it don’t you think?

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.