We all know that we should be planning for our future, but it seems that arranging your own funeral is simply one step too far for most.
Latest research from Mintel finds that while as many as 70 per cent of adults feel that people should plan their own funerals to remove the burden from their loved ones, fewer than one in ten (9 per cent) over 55 year olds have actually done this (5 per cent of the population as a whole).
What is more, over half (54 per cent) believe people should pre-pay their own funerals, but just 3 per cent of those over 55 have made the necessary provisions (2 per cent of the population as a whole).
When it comes to financing, over one in three (36 per cent) believe that it is in fact the state's responsibility to pay for all funerals.
Senior market analyst at Mintel, Katy Child, comments, "Death is not a topic that many find easy to discuss either with the family or with friends.
“Although there is a good deal of informal planning of funerals and most consumers like the idea of arranging or pre-paying their funeral, this is rarely translated into formal planning of the event.
She adds, “Converting this potential interest into action is one of the major challenges facing the industry. There is great potential to grow the pre-payment funerals market as there is currently very low take-up.”
Katy believes once the subject becomes less of a taboo, there will be growth in the market as has seen by the success in other countries, especially the US and Belgium.
The industry, she argues, will need to continue to promote pre-payment plans as a way to reduce worry and remove financial and emotional burdens from family members.
She adds, “It is clear that at some point the majority of us have considered death, as all but 10 per cent of adults know whether they would prefer a burial (36 per cent) or the more popular cremation (54 per cent).”
Just as awareness of environmental issues is on the rise in day to day life, green concerns are now also a consideration in death.
Mintel's exclusive consumer research shows almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of Brits like the idea of an eco-coffin, usually made of wicker or cardboard.
Meanwhile, around the same number (64 per cent) like the idea of a green funeral, where they are buried in a woodland or meadow, with woodland funerals proving most popular.
The growing interest in a more natural and eco-friendly approach to funerals has lead to rapid growth in the number of natural burial sites.
With over 200 natural burial sites now in the UK, the number has doubled since the start of the millennium.
Katy explains, "There is rising popularity of non-traditional funerals, especially those with environmental components.
“Interest in environmental issues has encouraged both consumers and providers to develop a range of alternative elements in the funeral process, including both eco-coffins and natural burial sites.
She adds, “This interest is encouraging a new breed of funeral providers who are innovative as well as sensitive. Novel ways of disposing of the cremated remains, such as converting the ashes into artificial diamond jewellery and into artificial sea reefs to support wildlife, have also been introduced.
“Meanwhile, a new organic method of burial using freeze-drying technology is being trialled in Sweden this year."
The market for funerals was worth some £1.3 billion last year, up almost 10 per cent on 2005 figures. Mintel forecasts a further 18 per cent growth between 2006 and 2011, to reach a value of £1.5 billion.
As consumers are increasingly concerned about the future when considering their financial arrangements, notably life assurance and pension provision, future growth in the funerals market will come in the form of increased sales of pre-paid funerals among those aged 45 and over.
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