Australia / Press Releases
Life after death: Innovations Drive Growth For Funeral Operators
by Tom Miller
Jun 25 2019

Revenue for the Funeral Directors, Crematoria and Cemeteries industry has grown strongly over the past five years. Industry operators have increasingly turned to innovative services, including DIY funerals, green funerals and live streaming, to help stand out in this increasingly competitive industry.

IBISWorld expects that revenue for the Funeral Directors, Crematoria and Cemeteries industry will increase at an annualised 3.6% over the five years through 2018-19, to total $1.6 billion.

“Australia’s population has increased rapidly over the period, and consequently so too has the number of annual deaths. The majority of funeral directors are small, family-owned businesses, and many of these operators have increasingly looked to innovation to differentiate their services within an increasingly competitive market,” said IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst, Tom Miller.  

Historically, many funeral directors have taken a traditional approach to funeral services, with limited innovation in how services are conducted. In particular, religious services were largely conducted based on the traditions and beliefs of the religious denomination in question.

Additionally, few individuals make any significant plans for their own funerals, while grieving relatives are often too distraught to make elaborate funeral plans for the recently deceased, and usually allow funeral directors to make the majority of the decisions. As a result, funeral services have changed little over the past several decades. However, this is beginning to change.

“Religious services have declined in popularity among many demographics, and friends and family have increasingly looked to new and unique ways to celebrate the lives of the deceased. New trends that have become increasingly popular over the past five years include live streaming funeral services, green funerals and even DIY funerals,” said Mr Miller.

According to IBISWorld, many funeral directors have embraced these trends to differentiate their own operations from other industry players, offering a range of funeral services as diverse as the individuals being celebrated.

“Many funeral homes have begun live streaming funerals, with demand for these services increasing. Live streaming allows friends and family who might not otherwise have been able to attend the funeral to view the proceedings. This option also allows individuals who attended the service to download the video and view the events at a time and place of their choosing,” said Mr Miller.  

Cremation has also been an increasingly popular option over the past five years, with approximately two-thirds of deceased individuals in Australia being cremated.

“Many funeral plots have become increasingly expensive as suitable land has become scarcer, encouraging more individuals to opt for cremation. Funeral companies have increasingly offered new and innovative options regarding cremated remains, including incorporating them into artificial reef structures, planting boxes, tattoos, fireworks, vinyl records, jewellery, or sending the remains into space,” said Mr Miller.

However, an increased preference towards cremation has also brought the environmental impact of funerals into question for many individuals, driving a trend towards green funerals.

“Green funerals – funerals with an emphasis on reducing the environmental impact of the burial – have become increasingly popular among many individuals in recent years. Traditional burial services can have a significant effect on the environment, with embalmed bodies and traditional coffins taking prolonged periods to break down. Additionally, cremation has significant energy requirements and has been linked with particulate and harmful mercury emissions into the atmosphere (caused by incinerating fillings in teeth),” said Mr Miller.  

According to IBISWorld, innovations regarding green burials have increased in popularity over the past five years, including services at green burial or bushland sites; the use of biodegradable coffins made of cardboard, wicker or a simple shroud; avoiding the use of headstones; and using shallower graves that don’t require heavy earthmoving equipment. Some firms have also experimented with alternatives to energy-intensive cremation, such as water cremation.

Funeral homes and support groups have also begun catering to DIY funerals. A DIY funeral allows friends and family an unprecedented level of control and engagement with their loved one’s celebrations and can involve everything from home-made caskets, transporting the deceased, storing the deceased at home and preparing the body for burial. In addition, some funeral homes and death doulas are able to provide legal and logistical support and advice, allowing grieving individuals an unmatched level of choice and empowerment regarding how a loved one is remembered and celebrated.

“As Australia’s population continues to age and grow, demand for the Funeral Directors, Crematoria and Cemeteries industry is forecast to remain lively over the next five years. Industry revenue is forecast to increase at an annualised 2.5% over the five years through 2023-24, to total $1.9 billion,” said Mr Miller.

-ENDS-

IBISWorld Industry Reports used in this release:

Funeral Directors, Crematoria and Cemeteries in Australia


For more information, to obtain industry reports, or arrange an interview with an analyst, please contact:

Kim Do
Strategic Media Advisor – IBISWorld Pty Ltd
Tel: (03) 9906 3641
Mobile: 0422 773 995
Email: kim.do@ibisworld.com