Keeping up with trends and innovation

Whatever your industry, it's vital to keep up with the trends and movements that are taking place. One fantastic way to do this is by attending trade shows. Carrie Weekes and Fran Glover are the founders of A Natural Undertaking, creating bespoke funerals with a difference, and the undertaking industry is no difference from any other in terms of being ever-changing. Here they talk about their experience of attending the Natural Funeral Exhibition.

Fancy being a firework display after you die? Well, you can. Your ashes can also be turned into beautiful jewellery,  put into a walking stick, or set adrift on the sea in a floating, biodegradable turtle. These are just some of the products and innovations we saw at the National Funeral Exhibition last month.

Most people probably imagine that the funeral industry is one which has remained pretty much unchanged since Queen Victoria donned her respectful black mourning dress, and we all began to rely on shiny black hearses to transport our dead to out-of-town cemeteries.  It’s an industry that doesn’t really smack of innovation…

But over the past twenty years or so the industry has been changing. And fairly rapidly too.  There were no natural burial grounds then - but now as people became more concerned with their impact on the environment, there are over 250 nationwide. This has led to a demand in green products - from beautiful environmentally-friendly coffins in wicker and cardboard, to biodegradable urns and electric hearses. There are some genuinely innovative and beautiful products being developed which don’t have to cost the earth.

People are also better consumers now too. The internet has made shopping around much easier. Any notion that this is somehow disrespectful is nonsense. Money is an issue. Funeral poverty is a genuine concern for may families.  And as people shop around they see images and stories of funerals which inspire them - and change the demands on funeral directors. Industry magazine The Church Times recently reported that the majority of funerals are now taken by civil celebrants rather than by ministers and religious leaders. The funeral landscape is changing.


How do we find out about all the new products and services? One of the ways is the same as any other industry - trade shows!

The  National Funeral Exhibition took place in June this year.  Not sound like much fun on a sunny Saturday? Well,  it was a great day! And as a new business who wants to offer as much choice as possible, it was imperative for us to attend. With over 100 exhibitors, it was a  real chance for us to find new products and services - and to get to know the people behind them.

As a new business it is crucial to form those personal relationships. It enables us to make follow-up calls to suppliers knowing they are already aware of who we are, and want to do business with us. We meet other companies like ours with whom we can share stories and experiences. And we can have our photos taken with some naked people  (courtesy of the Digital Autopsy guys, above).

There’s another one coming up in September - the Ideal Death Show. In Winchester. I wonder what funeral-related excitement this one will hold!


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