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Death Care Growing Online Presence

No industry is safe from the rise of the digital natives, including the death care industry. Founded by former Nike executives, Solace is a newcomer ready to disrupt the death care industry with digitally-driven, end-to-end cremation and death care services.

Innovation in funeral services and death care has lacked over the past 50 years, aside from being able to order a casket from Costco, Walmart and Amazon as these retailers enter into new categories. Death care planning is something people generally don’t want to think about until they have to, and when they do, it an ambiguous process filled with upselling and costly decisions that must be rapidly made in an emotional state of mind. Funeral homes and cemeteries are predominantly family-owned, processes remain paperwork-heavy, and the cost of funeral services continues to rise, making a difficult time unnecessarily complicated and costly for grieving families.

Image Source: Solace

Solace seeks to modernize these processes and create a simple and seamless digital solution for families in need of cremation services. The digitally native company offers direct cremation services at a transparent flat fee of $1175, which Solace executives shared is well below the national average of $2300 for cremation in a recent interview with Adweek. The comprehensive flat rate includes: taking a loved one into Solace’s care, cremation service, a Solace urn, return of the cremated remains and taxes & permits. Solace emphasizes compassionate support and higher-touch service by also providing a concierge-style, care-focused support team 24/7 online and by phone.

The understated simplicity of the Solace website is calming, easy to navigate and provides a breadth of useful information. Site visitors can fill out their information online via PDF documents to complete paperwork or read relevant blogs with titles such as “What is a Celebration of Life?” and “How to Help a Grieving Friend”. Even the stylized Solace urns look like something you’d find in an Apple store, with a modern white aesthetic that would easily blend into any contemporary home.

As the price of traditional death care services in the US continues to skyrocket (funeral costs now average over $8,000), cremation is becoming an increasingly appealing alternative for Americans. According to figures from the Cremation Association of North America, cremation surpassed traditional burial rates for the first time in the US in 2016. This trend creates an opportunity for companies such as Solace to step in, innovate the death care industry, and ultimately allow grieving families to focus more on being with their loved ones.

Practically-speaking, I don’t expect the funeral services market to ever become a growth industry, even with the entry of new digitally native players like Solace. Companies have no control of the death rate and not much else can be done to increase revenue beyond incremental price increases, operating margin expansion and industry consolidation.

However, death care is a generally stable industry and will always maintain a steady flow of business. Afterall, death is one of life’s only certainties.

Amanda Lai

Amanda manages McMillanDoolittle’s food retail practice and supports strategic planning, retail concept development, consumer research, and real estate analysis for a wide range of global retail clients. Since joining the team in 2017, Amanda has worked with brands across the Grocery, Restaurant, Apparel, Consumer Electronics, Automotive, and Real Estate sectors. She has been featured as a subject matter expert on TD Ameritrade, CBS News, and Chicago’s WGN Radio, and has been quoted in publications including The Chicago Tribune, Crain’s, Progressive Grocer, Drug Store News, and Convenience Store News.

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