FEATURE BRAND LOYALTY MAY BE FADING, BUT DOES IT MATTER? Contribution by Tony Russo This story originally was published in the Oct. 13, 2022 of Funeral Service Insider This week, as part of our continuing analysis of Kates-Boylston Publications Annual Casket Survey, we’re taking a look at brand loyalty. The question, “Our basic approaches and attitudes toward casket companies are (check all that apply)” seeks to get a sense of how funeral directors and funeral home owners and managers see their range of choice in the market, or so we thought. What we may have discovered is that the same demographics that effect the general public’s attitude could also be reflected in funeral service itself. The most notable change between 2015 and this year was in response to the first option: “We are strongly loyal to our main/only casket supplier and not inclined to switch.” In 2015, nearly 60% of respondents selected this among the other answers, but since 2017 that number has begun to decline, lingering in the 40s. There was a notable blip as it returned to 50% in the wake of the pandemic in 2020, but it fell back pretty quickly to this year’s 40.5% Timothy Murphy, CEO and executive director of the Casket and Funeral Supply Association of America, helped us dig into the numbers a little bit. In addition to his administrative position, Murphy had a 12-year career as an embalmer and funeral director in Ohio. He since has relocated to Indianapolis, the heart of the casket industry, where the CFSAA has its home base. “I always get accused by my funeral service friends. ‘You were in the golden age of funeral service from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, where every call you got was calling hours, church service, earth burial,’” they told him. “‘So, you were selling a vault, full service, casket, the whole shooting match.’” He couldn’t object. When Murphy was a funeral director doing 220 calls per year, 95% of his calls were traditional Catholic funerals, he said. There wasn’t a question of changing suppliers or making adjustments for margin. The simple fact is that today’s funeral directors face radically different challenges. CFSA Insider | Page 8

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