At the recent convention of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) in Las Vegas, Nevada, the expo showcased what’s new in the funeral business. First-time exhibitors offered products and services that indicate growing death care industry trends.
While wandering the 14 aisles of the expo, I saw a sign with a pug dog that had a pair of glasses perched above its eyes. The glasses reflected dollars. The caption read, “There’s a great big opportunity right under your (cold, wet) nose – Pet Loss Services.”
One sub-group of the ICCFA is the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance (PLPA). People with canine and feline pets alone make up 67% of the U.S. population, according to the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook.
At the ICCFA expo, there were 32 PLPA member suppliers offering everything from pet cremation and memorialization markers in bronze, granite and porcelain, to shipping cases, glass remembrance creations, picture frames and urns, photo tribute blankets and much, much more. If you aren’t yet talking with your clients about pet trusts, take note of what the funeral industry is doing with pet loss.
Funeral directors tell me they are not seeing much interest in green burial, but they may not be listening too well. Based on comments I hear when speaking to community groups and seeing the number of green burial product providers at the expo, going green with final arrangements is a growing interest.
The convention featured a showing of the documentary A Will for the Woods, which traces the journey of a dying man to get a green woodland burial in North Carolina. Attendance at the screening was very low, and attended mostly by those already doing green burials.
The national average cremation rate in the U.S. is more than 42%, with states in the West averaging a 60% to 70% rate. The cremation rate shot up 11% between 2007 and 2011. Funeral directors who ignored cremation earlier are scrambling to make sure they don’t get left behind.
Cremation products and services ranged from retort sales and repairs to jewelry and artwork that incorporate cremated remains. The types of urns for sale ran the gamut: metal, bronze, cloisonné, wooden boxes and turned vases, ceramics of porcelain and raku, scattering tubes, water soluble paper and sand creations, picture boxes, and more.
Do your clients want to be cremated? They need to know there is a huge range of options available to them.
People are still being buried in cemeteries, though. Casket manufacturers and monument makers were among those companies with the biggest booth spaces at the expo.
Some of the new products on display included a recycled rubber mat that fits around cemetery markers to minimize maintenance, a holder for planter pots that attaches to granite markers, and personalized caskets to reflect the personality of the deceased. There were booths featuring cemetery land planning services, software to manage plot sales, and equipment from hearses to earth movers.
With your help as an advisor on their estates, your clients may be financially set before there’s a death in the family. Many other people do not plan so well.
New companies to provide at-need financing have sprung up over the past year or so. These financing businesses offer funeral credit plans much like a dentist might offer a credit plan to pay for orthodontic work. They join other big companies that offer pre-need insurance, trust services, funeral home banking and insurance assignments.
If you are interested in specifics about some of these developments, individual stories are appearing on The Family Plot Blog in follow-up to the ICCFA convention. Or, feel free to give me a call to discuss further: 505-265-7215.
Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®, is author of the award-winning book and host of the TV and radio shows A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. She is Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement by the Association for Death Education and Counseling. A pioneering Death Café hostess, she uses a light touch on serious subjects, using humor and funny films to attract people to discuss mortality and funeral planning issues. Gail is an ongoing contributor to the AAEPA blog. Her website is http://agoodgoodbye.com/
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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San Diego, California 92123
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