Is big business taking over the funeral industry?
Most of the major funeral homes in New Zealand are now owned by two major players – InvoCare and Propel. These huge Australian companies are buying all the funeral homes they can get, and today there are very few independent large funeral homes left in NZ.
An article in the Post this week discussed what this may mean, but I think we can guess. Imagine what would happen if there were only two major providers of funerals in NZ? (I’m thinking supermarkets).
The problem is that with business comes a whole lot of extras that probably won’t really help families. These are things like marketing professionals, advertising executives, and all those industries that focus on selling – regardless of the truth. I wore a certain deodorant and was never chased by girls – false advertising. I’m certain that a fizzy drink doesn’t make you dance the night away. And that fast food is all about family getting together.
They will spin the truth to suit their needs. So for the funeral industry it is usually along the lines of being affordable, respectful, professional, etc. And with an almost limitless budget, their market research will know exactly which words to use and “buttons to push” to get business, because that is what business is.
Of course, there will also be their side of the story on how beneficial they will be to the community. But in the end, like any business, it is the bottom line that counts. So if there is a way to increase revenue, they will find it. Getting rid of competition is a great tactic.
It doesn’t take much digging to discover the recent unethical history within the corporate funeral industry. There are horror stories, which are certainly magnified because we are dealing with families, death, trust, and deceit. But will a corporation be any better than an independent funeral home?
Ultimately, I hope families will be well served by any funeral home they choose. But there is a concern that we may be heading down a road that won’t be as great as the shiny ads proclaim.