HEADLINE NEWS FLASH! “White funeral homes” are serving black people, “black funeral homes” are serving white people and “corporate” funeral homes will serve anyone! What is the world coming to? A story was written and posted in The Buffalo News (http://www.buffalonews.com/business/cultural-changes-hitting-areas-black-funeral-homes-20150419) shedding light on the shift of consumers regarding their choice of funeral homes.
Way south of Buffalo NY in the exact “opposite” is occurring. Clarence Boston, a young African American funeral entrepreneur opened Triad Cremation Society (http://www.triadcremationsociety.com/) in Greensboro NC and Cremation Society of Charlotte, Inc. (http://www.csofcharlotte.com/). I know Clarence personally and have had several occasions to chat with as well as discuss strategy with him. From both of these locations Clarence serves everyone regardless of their race, but noted that a vast majority of clientele are Caucasian.
I have close friends that are Jewish and primarily serve their local Jewish communities at their funeral home. Guess what? A slow shift, but not unusual is those of Jewish faith are choosing cremation. Many in the Catholic belief are gravitating away from traditional burial toward cremation.
“Corporate non-Family Owned” funeral homes are actually serving families (not just bands of vagabonds that travel from town to town with no local affiliations whatsoever). How is that possible? I actually read a blog of a 5th or 12th generation funeral home owner crowing with pride that his firm “cares more” because they provide “iced down Deer Park water” at graveside and have a “hostess” at the register stand. I guess that the greedy money hungry corporate funeral homes don’t give away water to the thirsty and refuse to run an after hours adult day care center to increase profits. To bring home the mentality, I quote the blog post (but leave the name of the firm out to not cause embarrassment): “We’ve Been Here Since Sherman Burned Down the South Funeral Home” is family owned and locally operated, which enables us to concentrate more on helping bereaved families than improving a stock price on the Dow Jones index. Interesting they just had their stockholders meeting…with their decline in burials and lost calls to competition, I wonder how that went?
Cultural change…the shifting consumer. It’s not an issue of race or belief, its a phenomena called “cultural diffusion.” Cultural diffusion is the spread of cultural beliefs and social activities from one group to another. The mixing of world cultures through different ethnicity, religions and nationalities has increased with advanced communication, transportation and technology. LORD HAVE MERCY, COULD THAT MEAN BAPTISTS ARE DANCING (a feat in itself) WITH IRISH CATHOLICS? In a nutshell, yes.
Here are some examples of cultural diffusion:
- Eat sushi?
- Play or watch hockey?
- Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
- Where did Christianity and Islam start; where is it practiced now?
- Paper was invented in China.
- Coca Cola & McDonald’s started in the US…now people all over the world are getting fat.
I’m not the doomsday type; there will always be a need for funeral homes that provide traditional services and those firms in more rural settings will have the least need for change, reflecting their community. But as our society changes, we will need to adjust operationally to meet those needs. Or, we’ll be a headline in the local paper. With a 7×70 ring gauge maduro causing copious volumes of smoke at the desk of The Funeral Commander, Cheers Y’all! #thefuneralcommander