Baby boomers are getting 'hands on' with their own 'bespoke' funerals

Key Points
  • Consumers are now getting more hands-on in planning their own funerals, says the CEO of publicly traded funeral services company InvoCare.
  • Speaking with CNBC, Martin Earp says the demand is mainly driven by baby boomers who have a very different set of needs and wants as compared to their predecessors.
A 'transformational time' for Australia's funeral industry: InvoCare CEO

Once an event that most would have left in the care of others, funerals are increasingly being planned ahead of time.

"It's a transformational time for the funeral industry," said Martin Earp, CEO of publicly traded funeral services company InvoCare.

Speaking with CNBC's "The Rundown" on Wednesday, Earp said the company is seeing a shift in how people are approaching their own funeral, with demand mainly driven by baby boomers who have "completely different needs and wants" on how they would like to celebrate their departure.

While funeral services were traditionally "a little bit more of a standard offering," he said, people are now looking for professionals to help them arrange and deliver on the event.

"Now, people are after a bespoke event," Earp said, adding that "hands on" customers are now looking for something less formal than before — and they're demonstrating a preference for "high quality AV solutions."

"They'd rather have videos of people telling stories about their loved one than maybe a priest just sort of reading just out loud," he said.

Looking at funerals as an event to celebrate an individual's life, Earp said customers want an "area where they can spend two or three hours sort of having champagne and canapes as opposed to having a cup of tea and a rich tea biscuit."

"Over and above that," he added, customers want the event to be local and are looking for a one-stop shop solution.

Given the "very low barriers to entry" resulting in intense competition in the funeral services industry, Earp stressed the need for InvoCare to stay ahead by providing the highest levels of customer service and upgrading its facilities and product offerings.

In February this year, InvoCare announced a $200 million reinvestment program into its existing facilities. According to Earp, this was a "long-term investment" to meet the needs of customers.

The company — which has operations in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore — has also spent "many millions" over the last six months in upgrading the offerings for its Singapore Casket subsidiary.