Millennials, it seems, are killing yet another industry. Considering the new “victim” is the funeral home market, one can’t help but wonder if that’s not a positive change. Still, there’s a lot more to this sped-up “death” than meets the eye, especially if you look at how powerful the funeral lobby has been in the past.
The traditional death industry has seen its profits dwindle in the last few decades. But the first sign people were just not that into fancy burials came in 2015, when cremation surpassed traditional burial rates across the country. Then, cremation reached the 49 percent rate nationwide while the burial-rate estimate was just 45 percent.
Perhaps it’s fair to blame millennials for this trend. After all, younger people are less traditional than their parents, so questioning whether they should spend so much money on something that brings them no pleasure or utility in life may be playing a major role in the shift. But maybe one of the main reasons funerals no longer appeal to them is that they have too many other bills to worry about.
Still, it’s not only young people who are dramatically changing the death industry.
According to the Washington Examiner, older folks are also changing their minds about how their remains should spend eternity.
In their case, they are choosing more affordable options precisely because they are broke. But when it comes to millennials and members of Generation X, even cremations are sounding like a bad deal.
Young and environmentally conscious consumers are starting to popularize green burials, which are both affordable and involve fewer synthetic chemicals. The idea is to bury the body in biodegradable materials such as urns made of pink Himalayan salt, pine caskets, or even a simple cotton shroud. In some cases, consumers can choose to be buried in pods that contain tree seeds. As the body decomposes, it fertilizes the seed.
With millennials and other younger generations making their parents’ funeral arrangements over the coming years and decades, insiders expect to see a growth in green burials. And if traditional funeral homes do not adapt, lowering their prices and making their services more appealing to a wider number of people, things may look grim for the industry. Unfortunately, a lot of what people are paying for when picking a funeral home has to do with government regulation.
Needless to say, the death industry may have its days numbered if it is not allowed to change practices or offer more affordable end-of-life solutions to its customers.
How the State Put an Affordable-Casket Company Out of Business
Not too long ago, the monks of St. Joseph Abbey in Covington, Louisiana, started producing their handmade, wooden caskets for consumers, opening a shop in 2005. Their simple caskets cost about $2,000 each and were modeled after the caskets they made for men of their own order.
But selling caskets at such a low price got in the way of the larger funeral home businesses in the state. In no time, their lobbying efforts prompted the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors to ban the monks from selling their crafts. Without a license, the men were no longer able to provide the market with an affordable option and their business died just two years after it began.
Like St. Joseph Abbey, other casket manufacturers and creative funeral homes suffer because of the state-backed monopoly in the industry. But as competition becomes even fiercer, more-traditional funeral businesses may have no choice but to lobby for the end of any and all regulatory burden. And if they don't, there will be no way of lowering the cost of their products and services.