Brands on the Rise is a regular Ad Age feature spotlighting the marketing and business tactics of successful challenger brands. Read other installments here.
Several retail categories have received the direct-to-consumer treatment in recent years—mattresses, eyewear, meal prep and feminine care, to name a few. Now, it’s the death industry that is getting reinvented as younger generations break with traditional funeral practices in favor of a more modern, transparent and often digital experience. In recent years, a host of startup brands specializing in cremation, caskets and funeral services have popped up with compelling propositions for consumers.
“For the past century, the death care industry has remained relatively unchanged,” said Victoria Haneman, a professor at Creighton University School of Law who studies innovative death business approaches, noting that the business was ripe for disruption. “We started to see a shift in attitudes about death and this notion of a positive death around 2010 with the baby boomer generation that was starting to think about meeting death on their own terms.”
Startups are also appealing to digitally-native millennials and Gen Z, she added, a cohort “that probably wants to meet death for their loved ones down a technologically mediated path because that’s how they live much of their life.”