Competing with Amazon’s $50 urn

How much is a cremation urn worth?

According to the NFDA, the average cost of a cremation urn is $295.

Amazon has plenty of beautiful urns that can be shipped to your door overnight for $50 to $100.

How will a funeral home compete with Amazon, Walmart, or dozens of other online retailers?

The answer lies in the Experience Economy and the following diagram from the latest edition of the book “The Experience Economy” by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore.


An urn is a Good. It’s a product created by combining raw materials in a manufacturing process.

An urn has value. But it is also subject to a lot of price competition because if I can buy the same (or similar) product for a lower price on Amazon, it’s pretty hard to justify a higher price at the funeral home.

According to the Experience Economy, the solution is to customize the product.

How can you customize an urn?

Some of my clients have in-house engraving equipment and use this service as a way to add more value to their urns.

Suddenly, your $295 urn isn’t competing with a $50 urn from Amazon because it’s been customized.

In Experience Economy terminology, you have used a service to customize and add more value to your product, thereby improving your competitive positioning and justifying a higher price.

However, there are services like that will engrave a high-quality urn and ship it to you for roughly $100 to $200, so a funeral home might still be under some competitive pressure. The solution is to add more Customization.

How can you further customize an engraved urn?

Most Funeral Directors would hand the family their engraved urn containing their loved one’s remains. In that situation, the Funeral Director delivers the customized good to the customer.

Instead, what if you have a special room in the funeral home where a family receives their urn? In that room is a beautiful urn ark surrounded by fresh flowers.

Rather than handing the family the urn, you usher them into a room where their urn is displayed in the urn ark.

What if you also had a picture of the deceased?

Maybe some lit candles?

Maybe a pleasant aroma fills the room?

Maybe some soft music?

What if you took a few minutes to lead the family in prayer or read an appropriate poem?

You’ve just created an experience for the family. Suddenly, the $295 urn seems like a bargain.

The key to having a profitable funeral business lies in understanding the opposing forces of Commoditization and Customization.

The price of Products (like urns) or Services (like cremation) are being pushed down by Commoditization. However, Customization is the opposing force that increases the value to the family and improves your competitive position.

For a long time, funeral professionals have been talking about personalization (aka Customization). But unfortunately, too many firms implemented video tributes and photo displays and stopped at that point.

Commoditization will never stop. Similarly, Customization should never stop.

It requires you to constantly innovate because Commoditization will force you to drop your prices the moment you stop.

My business is focused on helping my clients create, package and market funeral experiences. We customize products and services to create experiences that today’s families value.

It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy either. So start by studying the Experience Economy book and reach out to me if you need help.

Until next time


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