Tag Archives: FAMIC

1990-2015: FAMIC Survey On Preferences For Cremation And Funeral Services

Study Of American Attitudes Toward Ritualization And Memorialization was begun in 1989 as a joint project of numerous funeral/cemetery industry organizations under the umbrella of the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC). The first survey was conducted in 1990 by Wirthlin Worldwide and results were published in 1991, with followups by Wirthlin and then Harris Interactive about every 4-5 years since. The study’s purpose has been to gauge consumer attitudes about the industry as a whole, about the people who work in the industry, and about “ritualization and memorialization” services and products.1 In the early years of the survey, I believe showing changes in consumer attitudes was a primary emphasis of the reports. Recently, however, as I explained in the previous post, in recent FAMIC reports, historical data are not included for certain questions and information on related trends has thus vanished.

But by pulling data from several FAMIC reports we can still find useful information on how consumer opinions about funeral practices have changed as cremation becomes more prevalent.

Subjects: US adults in geographic, gender, and ethnic proportions intended to represent the general population. 1990: 1000 (635 age 40+); 1995: 1001 (584 age 40+); 1999: 1002 (615 age 40+); 2004: 961 (961 age 40+); 2010: 858 (507 age 40+); 2015: 1543 (1238 age 40+). Oversampling of several ethnic groups was conducted to collect data on certain questions. For sets of questions that qualified the respondent, such as “Were you involved in selecting a provider?” the number of valid responses to subsequent items may have been fewer than the total participants because only those who said “yes” to the first would have been asked. The method of the survey changed in 2015 when it was brought online; in previous years subjects were interviewed by telephone.2

Main findings

Between 1990 and 2015, as measured in the FAMIC studies, consumer sentiment regarding cremation has changed 180 degrees from negative to positive—from 61 precent unfavorable to 65 percent favorable.

Evidence for the reversal is most telling in the reasons people now give for choosing cremation: whereas in 1990 there were a couple of main rationales centered on the financial and land-saving advantages of cremation, now there are many. This indicates a tradition so familiar that consumers now see many advantages in it.

Respondents continue to feel very favorably about the people working in the funeral business, and most say they would not want to change anything about the funeral experience. However, perceptions of the value of funeral ceremonies have declined somewhat.

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FAMIC Data On Consumer Preferences

Why do people choose cremation? If you have to make funeral arrangements, you might wonder what the differences are between various options, and also what most other people are thinking when they select one over the other. If you are in the funeral business, you’re probably also interested in these questions.

They don’t have simple answers, because they lead to many other questions—which I allude to in describing the scope of this project. I may well expend another 100,000 words digging into the differences between all the funeral choices.

As to questions such as what consumers think and whether they are happy with their choices, we need to pull together disparate research because there are no comprehensive consumer opinion data studies, unfortunately.

About every five years since 1989, the funeral industry has hired a public opinion research firm to survey consumer attitudes. In the 1990s the research partner was Wirthlin Worldwide, but since Wirthlin was purchased by Harris Interactive about 15 years ago the latter (I believe) has been the survey partner ever since. While this would seem to be a great opportunity to understand their customers, as we saw with the 1986 study (and, maybe, the 1996 study), sometimes the industry seems averse to certain research topics.

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