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Cremation in America: The Surprising New Findings Behind the Trend. Hint: It’s Not Price!

Cremation rates continue to rise, but not for the reasons many people have come to believe.

Current research from Coldspring and Hanover Research dispels the previously held belief that the primary reason people choose cremation is because it has a lower price point. In this article series, we dive into the new findings and explore the facts and strategies to help your memorial business prepare. We’ll cover the surprising demographics of those choosing cremation, how to make the most of the celebration trend, and how you can make plans for meeting families’ needs.

In 2015, cremation rates topped traditional burials in the United States, and the trend is expected to continue in the coming years. It’s not surprising that some traditional reasons for choosing cremation remain important:

  • Separated Families. Traditionally in the U.S., families took deep root in a community and remained for many generations. But that’s not true in modern life. Today, fewer families remain in the same location – instead, parents and their children are often spread throughout many cities and states. Without close ties to a location, cremation meets the needs for the transience of modern family life.
  • Increased options with cremation. Many people are drawn to the personalization available and more flexible options for memorialization with cremation. Cremated remains can be divided, spread in multiple locations, turned into new objects including jewelry or given to multiple family members. With cremation, a celebration of life may be held at a later date, giving relatives and friends the time to travel to one location. People are realizing there are many options for memorializing, especially when choosing cremation.

While direct cremation (minus the many optional services available) may cost less than traditional burial, price isn’t the driving factor behind the decision for most people. Coldspring and Hanover’s research shows demographic findings that support this conclusion.

As shown in the table above, cremation is more often chosen by individuals who have a higher education level, higher income and higher home value, indicating a lower price point is not influencing in the decision.

With this insight, the memorial industry can expand what’s being offered to a cremation family to ensure they know that regardless of the disposition of the body, their loved one still deserves to be remembered in a meaningful, permanent way.

Additional reasons – other than price – cited for cremation include:

    • Influence of new cultural practices from recent immigrants. According to 2019 data, more than 44 million immigrants live in the U.S. As they immigrate, they bring new religious practices and social norms that may favor cremation.
    • Eco-consciousness. Cremation, often viewed as a sustainable, earth-friendly option, has seen a rise as society leans toward green choices and minimalism.
    • Urban growth and diminishing available land. Cemetery land in many areas has reached capacity, and cremation offers an alternative.
    • Religious acceptance of cremation and/or lower rates of religious Americans. The Roman Catholic Church, the largest religious denomination in the U.S., formally accepted cremation in 1963. Since that time, a rising normalcy of the practice has occurred among Catholics and other religious denominations. On the flip side, fewer Americans identify as religious today as in past years. In 1963, 2 percent of Americans professed they had no religious identity. In 2016, the percentage of non-religious Americans had risen to 18 percent. Fewer traditional religious preferences toward burial have coincided with the increasing cremation rate.
    • New ways of memorializing, often separate from cemeteries. Today, families are seeking non-traditional ways of paying tribute to their loved ones, such as dividing cremated remains, scattering cremated remains at non-cemetery locations, or holding memorial services at their homes or other significant personal locations. Many families don’t realize memorial providers may be willing to help them plan a unique celebration or offer non-traditional options for memorialization such as cremation gardens and forests.

The good news? Because budget concerns aren’t necessarily driving cremation sales, you have the opportunity to present every option for cremation memorialization, including higher price point options.

By presenting every option, every time, you can help families choose the tribute that truly represents their loved ones. As always with cremation, the memorial industry must remain steadfast in educating customers of the need for a permanent, secure memorial.

The permanent memorial not only keeps loved ones’ remains safe but also aids in the grieving process. Similarly, the need for a memorial service or celebration remains important and shouldn’t be overlooked, even when cremation is chosen.

In the coming months, we’ll continue exploring the new findings about the cremation trend and how your cemetery can meet families’ needs. In the meantime, if you’d like more information on navigating the current trends in cremation, contact your Coldspring representative today .


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