PO Box 768152 | Roswell, Georgia | 30076
Every Funeral is an Opportunity to Tell a Life Story
A personal note – Five months ago, the word
“coronavirus” wasn’t in our vocabulary, and none of
us could imagine a pandemic that would threaten the
health of our communities, our businesses and wreak
havoc on our industry. It has been devastating to watch
families lose loved ones unexpectedly without being
able to be with them in their final days and hours. And
not having the opportunity to come together to honor
and celebrate their lives.
As always, funeral directors responded with the
compassion, commitment and resilience that we have
come to know and admire. On behalf of all of us who
have the privilege to work with or support you, we say
thank you. Your work has not gone unnoticed.
Every funeral is an opportunity to share a life story.
As I thought about this article, I kept coming back to
that sentence. While simple or elaborate, the casket
is a central element of that story, a reflection of an
individual’s life, experiences and relationships.
As a manufacturer, it’s our job to provide products
that align with consumers’ personal styles, as well as
their emotional and financial needs, so they can make
confident choices without settling. And to maintain
quality standards you are proud to offer and that are
worthy of the Batesville brand. That means constantly
innovating, adapting and refreshing interior and
exterior materials, designs, hardware, features – and
even sizes – to make sure we are meeting our promise.
Today, I’d like to highlight some of the things we are
doing to stay at the forefront and what you can expect
to hear more about in the coming months.
Reinforcing value with personalization
Consumer attitudes toward traditional funerals and
the value of funeral service remain a challenge for our
industry. We believe helping families create highly
personal, meaningful funerals is one of the best ways
to change this perception.
A few years ago, we conducted a large research project
to understand consumers’ views on different aspects of
the funeral planning process. This study showed
that the casket selection is one of the most stressful
decisions families make when planning a funeral, but
it can also lead to high levels of satisfaction with their
overall experience. Family members feel pressure to
make the right decision, to “do the right thing” for their
Providing choices that allow families to make more
confident decisions can drive more positive outcomes.
Every family is unique, so we have invested heavily
in the development of products that can be tailored to
individual needs and are available at price points that
are accessible to more families.
Family Choices Personalization and Memorialization
When a loved one passes, families make choices in
how they honor and remember their loved ones. From
the beginning, Batesville viewed personalization as a
way to add value to the service and provide meaning
for the family – and we have continued to expand on
that principle ever since. Today, we have a wide
spectrum of personalization and memorialization
offerings to represent the fullness of a person’s life.
We have brought all of these together under the
Family Choices® umbrella as a way to simplify the
conversation and keep the family at the center.
Family Choices encompasses more than the traditional
decorative elements or engraving that are added to
caskets and urns, or memorial products we wear or
display. Technology has empowered us with digital
solutions, like themed obituaries and custom video
tributes, that allow families to share their loved one’s
story in ways that simply were not possible before. As
we have seen during with the COVID-19 restrictions,
it is a key enabler in keeping families connected with
their communities of support.
Simplifying personalization for families
We have three rules for personalization. It needs to be
easy, relevant and affordable. But over time, as we added new items,
things got more complicated. We had accessories that fit on corners;
others for the casket lid; and some that could be used with select urns.
Let’s face it – it wasn’t easy. We took that to heart, and over the
last couple of years, we redesigned and updated some of our traditional
LifeSymbols® corner designs and LifeStories® medallions and
accessories, added new designs and eliminated duplicates. So now,
no matter what you choose, a simple adapter allows
it to be used interchangeably. Families can choose
from more than 100 tribute options – available at no
additional cost – opening up a world of possibilities
and providing the flexibility and customization they
Keeping pace with the trends
Research provides a window into the key drivers and
changes in consumer preferences and is essential in the
development of new products and solutions. We monitor
changes at a national level, while also recognizing the
more subtle shifts in different geographies so we can
meet the needs of all communities. For example, military
caskets and funerals occur across the country, but there
are pockets in the Southeast and
Southwest where demand is much higher. While these
demand variables can be managed through selective
stocking, by building flexibility into the actual product
design, we can extend that capability to a much broader
audience We have looked at both approaches and will be sharing
more about that later in the year. Paint colors and wood finishes
follow trends in the automotive and home furnishings industries, going
in and out of style in cycles. Some of the recent trends we are see that
are reflected in caskets include: Traditional red stains are losing
favor to more natural brown finishes. Building on that trend, we
are adding a new brown option to some of our popular wood caskets.
• While the “shabby chic” or distressed home décor
market is not as hot as it was, it remains a popular
• Because demand for aesthetically pleasing oversize
units has not abated, we are adding more oversize
woods that are suitable for burial or cremation.
Finally, we know price is a key decision for many
consumers, and we are offering more choices priced at
or below the industry average – in 20-gauge products,
18-gauge and woods.
Caskets are not just for burial
Funeral service is a traditional industry, so it’s not
unusual when we hear people associate caskets with burial.
After all, it was that way for generations. But
with the number of cremations in the United States
expected to rise from 1.57 million in 2019 to 1.94
million by 2025, and 2.65 million by 2035,* we can no
longer afford to hold that view.
Caskets are not just for burial – they are for our loved
ones, regardless of disposition. As discussed earlier,
the casket (or a dignified cremation container) is a
central element of a meaningful visitation, funeral or
memorial service. But if we want this to become the
norm, we need more cremation-friendly caskets and
Batesville adopted an approach of building “dual
disposition” caskets – with the majority of metal and
metal components removed – to serve the needs of
burial and cremation. For example, they have glass filled
nylon arms, wood beds and coated cardboard
Importantly, that doesn’t translate to “stripped down.”
In fact, two of our most popular dual disposition units,
the Montgomery and Dryden, are affordably-priced
featured products that can be customized with Family
Choices corners and medallions.
In addition to the new products we’ve added, a
sizeable percentage of our overall wood line has been
upgraded to dual disposition. We’ve also dedicated a
lot of design and development to launch a new line
of cremation containers for price-sensitive shoppers
with improved functionality, enhanced feature sets and
more contemporary aesthetics. We are excited to share
those with you later this year. What Matters Most
Batesville has been a proud partner to funeral directors
for more than a century. Now, more than ever, it’s
important to focus on what matters most. Supporting
families with meaningful services to support their
loves ones. Offering a large selection of quality
products and technology solutions. And maintaining
our commitment to you and the families you serve.
For more than 100 years, we have upheld John A.
Hillenbrand’s vision and are a recognized leader in
the death care industry in North America. Although
we started as a casket manufacturer, today we offer
burial, cremation, memorial keepsakes, technology,
and business solutions.
We are a subsidiary of Hillenbrand, Inc., a global
diversified industrial company with multiple market leading
brands that serve a wide variety of industries
around the world. Hillenbrand’s portfolio is comprised
of two business segments: the Process Equipment
Group and Batesville. Hillenbrand is publicly traded
on the NYSE under “HI.”
Jenn Parvin is Vice
President of Marketing
and Technology for
Batesville. Since joining
Batesville in 2008,
she has distinguished
herself as a sales professional, a leader
and a champion for funeral professionals.
She spent more than 10 years serving funeral
directors in the South and East and has become a
She has responsibility for the development and
marketing of innovative burial and cremation products
that meet or exceed the needs of funeral directors and
families, and for delivering digital and e-commerce
solutions that help funeral homes optimize their
business and create stronger connections with their
A true Southerner, Jenn lives in Charleston, SC, with
husband and two children.