Why death may not be the end of consumer brand engagement

November 26, 2014
4 min read

In Brazil, football club Corinthians’ announcement of a cemetery for fans is the latest embodiment of the trend towards people taking a positive and personalised view of death.

Live Forever FC

The “Corinthians Forever” cemetery will open in Sao Paulo in 2015 and its 70,000 plots offer fans the chance to be interred alongside famous players or at particular spot beneath a mocked-up soccer pitch. Funeral services are also available, incorporating the club’s anthem, as well as flags and flowers in the club’s black and white colours.

Corinthians are not alone here – Schalke, Hamburg and Barcelona offer similar services in Europe – and neither is football the only area where we are seeing new personalised services that dispense with tradition and celebrate a sense of individuality, community and personality.

Death: A Growth Industry real

Mintel’s Trend “No Resting Place” has documented a shift in attitudes towards funerals and legacies, driven by the pressing issues of ageing population which has made death something of a “growth industry”. This is a global phenomenon – the UN is forecasting 80 million deaths per annum by 2040, compared with just 57 million at present – but in countries where the severity of the ageing profile is extreme, so are some of the services that we are seeing.

In Japan for instance, we’ve seen consumers adopt practical, pre-emptive approaches to funerals, with a growing trend towards elderly women choosing and – spending up to ¥70,000 (US$700) – on the ‘final outfit’ they will wear, whilst coffin maker WiLLife holds ‘Experience It yourself’ sessions where customers can try out its cardboard caskets for just $10, with food and drink thrown in. This kind of radical discussion isn’t confined to Japanese pop culture, though – in Norway we’ve been treated to The Coffin, a TV reality show where celebrities plan their funerals.

I Died It My Way

All of this signifies a new transparency and informality in society, explored in our Trend “Open Diary”, where people are increasingly willing to discuss death, their plans and what they want their legacy to be. We live in a society where social media platforms encourage and enable us to express our creativity and individuality and we’re seeing this manifested both in funerals and digital innovations that help us to ‘live on’ beyond death. This customisation goes way beyond the prevalence of Frank Sinatra’s My Way being something of a funeral standard.

Even in supposedly conservative, relatively religious societies such as the US, we’re seeing radical re-imaginings of what we can be and where we can go after we’re gone. The Neptune Society offers a memorial service that offers a kind of special-interest immortality, married with exclusivity and sustainability. Its ‘Memorial Reefsystem’ gives divers and marine enthusiasts the chance to have their cremated remains made in to structures sunk off the Miami coast that will become hubs for new life in the form of coral growth, which can also be visited by friends and family in scuba gear.

Google has been working on ways to tidy up our digital affairs after we’re gone, but the digital medium is also allowing us a voice beyond the grave, in the form of innovations like the RosettaStone’s microchipped tablets that can be scanned to yield personal data, including video and audio, presenting us with something akin to ‘living’ urns or headstones. In China, the ‘Life Black Box’ is an online service that sends users’ photos, thoughts and final goodbyes to designated loved ones upon their death.

This focus upon funerals and legacies is driven by an ageing society, but concerns with mortality aren’t necessarily confined to those nearing its truth. A growth in dying is focusing everyone’s attention on living life for now and fostering a ‘bucket list’ mentality where life’s goals are to be ‘ticked off’ in earnest. These concerns are crystallised in the hard, device form of ALARMclock, which wakes up its owners each morning with an estimate of how many days left they have before they die. As its, sales pitch goes: “Nothing waken a man’s hunger, like vision of his imminent demise.”

Richard Cope
Richard Cope

Richard is a Senior Trends Consultant, bringing the latest consumer trends to Mintel clients through bespoke presentations and represents Mintel at global conferences.

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