Gleaned from the 2017 NFDA Consumer Awareness and Preferences Survey Part 1: Funeral Consumers Need Education

Since 2012, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has surveyed consumers to “measure consumer awareness and perceptions of funerals and funeral services to help NFDA members improve the quality of service they provide to families.”  The findings have been fairly consistent from year to year, although clear trends have been identified.

The 2017 NFDA Consumer Awareness and Preferences Survey was conducted April 13 to April 16, 2017.  A total of 1,013 Americans age 40 and older participated in the 2017 survey.  Memorial Business Journal reported on the results of the 2017 Survey in the July 13th, July 27th, and August 3rd issues. A series of blog posts will highlight a few of the findings.

Memorial Business Journal reported on several interesting data points regarding what funeral consumers want:

  • Those who believe that it is “very important” to have religion as a part of a funeral has decreased from 49.5% in 2012 to 39.5% in 2017.  In 2017, 27.7% feel that it is “somewhat important.”
  • A little more than half of respondents (53.6%) said they would prefer cremation for their own disposition.  Only 14.1% of those respondents said they would have a complete funeral service with viewing and visitation prior to cremation (down from 26.6% in 2015).
  • The percentage of respondents who associate a cremation with a “memorial service” increased from 35.1% in 2015 to 40.4% in 2017.
  • The most important items respondents indicated that they want in a funeral are:
    • personalized music (from 43.2% in 2015 to 50.6% in 2017);
    • a gathering of family and friends;
    • low cost (up from 32.9% in 2015 to 48.6% in 2017);
    • to honor the wishes or prearrangements of a loved one; and
    • photos.
  • A little more than half of respondents feel that it is “very important” or “somewhat important” to have the body or cremated remains present at a funeral or memorial service; the remainder feel that it is “not important.”
  • Only 21.4% of respondents have prearranged their own funeral.  Of those who have prearranged, only 23.2% have prepaid.

Funeral reformers might interpret many of these results as pointing to increasing consumer demand for different goods and services.  Memorial Business Journal has a different take: “As in past surveys, these results do point to areas in which the public is in need of education and guidance in the areas of death, ceremony and memorialization by the experts — funeral directors.  This was a recurring theme in the findings of this survey…  To make a long story short, consumers are changing and the survey identifies a number of areas in which consumers need more information and education on what a funeral home can do for them to provide the best service possible for their loved one.”



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