Funeral Ceremony/Service Business Market in Japan: Key Research Findings 2019
Yano Research Institute (the President, Takashi Mizukoshi) has conducted a survey on the domestic funeral ceremony/service business market and has found out the current status, the market size, the trends of market players, and the future perspectives.
Because of changes in population composition, the domestic number of deaths has been increasing year by year, according to Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. However, the recent tendency of downsizing the funeral ceremonies and of price competition among funeral service providers made the domestic funeral ceremony/service business market in 2018 to rise only slightly to 1,823,099 million yen, 101.0% of the size of the previous year, based on the sales revenues at the businesses.
The largest reason for the slight growth of the market in spite of increasing number of deaths is because of lower prices for funeral ceremonies. There are various forms of funeral services, i.e., conventional general services (the ceremonies that anyone can participate), family funeral ceremonies (holding both the wake followed by the funeral service the next day, attended by family members, small number of relatives and friends), simple funeral services (no wake nor funeral ceremony, but only a cremation and receiving of cremated remains), Jumokuso (a burial at the foot of trees or at the place surrounded by nature without using a tombstone), and scattering of cremated remains over the sea or the mountains. In recent years, lower-price and simpler funeral services with smaller number of participants are popular.
Expanding Number of Funeral Services Conducted via Websites
The funeral industry was said to be one of the most IT-outdated industry, but in recent years, some funeral service websites on the internet started attracting customers, acting as intermediary for the funeral service providers listed on the websites. Such website operators are just the intermediary and do not have any funeral halls to hold any ceremonies.
These funeral service intermediaries reorganized the service contents which used to be ambiguous into packages and set the prices accordingly, depending on what needed in the ceremonies such as flowers, alters and etc. By reducing the waste and by offering the services at highly transparent and reasonable prices, the users became able to choose the options they want, fully aware of the exact price beforehand. Such an advantage together with a growing demand for lower-price and simpler ceremonies especially in the metropolitan areas, the number of the cases of using funeral websites has expanded.
On the other hand, those intermediaries have aligned with increasing number of existing funeral service providers to join in the packaged services on the website, by appealing improvement in operation rate of ceremony halls.
As the number of deaths is likely to grow until close to 2040, more opportunities of funeral ceremonies are expected, which can expand the size of funeral ceremony/service business market. On the other hand, super-aging society may give rise to solitary deaths or a dead person left with no family members, in which case no funeral services can be conducted.
Associated with increasing number of bereaved families reluctant in paying much for the funeral services due to slow growth in disposable income, family funeral services and 1-day funeral services are projected to increase, which is very likely to continue reducing the unit price per service spent by consumers. All of such elements taken into account, the market size by the sales revenues at the businesses is likely to be flat or increase slightly. The funeral ceremony/service business market is estimated to attain 1,857,010 million yen by 2022.
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