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Direct to Exhumer: Funereal Commerce

Death, Taxes, and DTC
August 26, 2022

Welcome to Friday, Futurists. 

Maybe it’s being one year older that has me thinking about my mortality. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been to a few memorial services this year myself. But whatever it is, the more I consider the industry of death, the more I realize how commerce-centric it has become.

Funeral home websites are commerce-laden now. You can simultaneously buy a memorial ceramic plate with your loved one’s face on it, plant a tree, send flowers, or send a sympathy card. There are cross-sells and upsells. There’s an email subscription checkbox on checkout.

These sites are decidedly modern. They have responsive mobile layouts. I want to have been in that room for the meeting where the board reviewed proposals for making the leap to mobile. The digital leap is thanks in part to Private equity rollup of family funeral homes over the past 20 years, and to great effect.

I quipped on Twitter: “Hear me out, a DTC casket” and behold it already exists. Titan Caskets does a fair bit of traffic, too. We all know that death has a TAM of… everyone. Loyalty’s a problem, though. There are even digitally-enabled funeral planners, because of course there are. It makes so much sense.

Figure 1: Traffic and engagement for Titan Caskets last 90. Via Similarweb.

Oren Charnoff, the founder of Fondue shared some shocking stats with me via Twitter DM, backing into some data via a Similarweb stat pull: 

Casket shoppers - [let’s] assume a 1% CVR bc its likely research oriented purchase. 280 monthly transactions *$1100 asp and assume little coupons and returns.
[We see] a shocking amount of direct traffic. And solid se given search and low referrals volume. Reasonably low social.
Figure 2: funeral shoppers by marketing channel. Via Similarweb.

If modernity has taught me anything, it’s that digital transformation eventually comes for everything. DTC Theorem: if it can be DTC’d it will be. Yes, even cremation.

So, three things then, Mr. Benny Frank: Death. Taxes. And DTC.

— Phillip

Bad News for Introverts. T-Mobile and SpaceX are partnering up to do away with cellular dead zones forever. By the power of Starlink, the two companies plan to bring full bars to every corner of the earth. Soon you’ll be able to take every call from your MIL, even in the vast backcountry of Death Valley.

Handsomely Rewarded. Walmart has added a new benefit for Walmart+ members. Starting this week, members can earn cash-based rewards which can be applied to future purchases.
Our Take:
This is a big shift for the “everyday low price” retailer, which has (until now) eschewed a traditional loyalty scheme. Bentonville’s been making big moves with partnerships lately, too; including Paramount+ (jealous yet Jeffrey Bezos?), Shopify, and recently bundled Walmart+ subscription with select Amex cards. Is this the Walmart glowup?

Waxing Poetic. Prada has released a luxury candle for $220, which comes served on a silver platter and includes a “sleek black case.”

WWLB (What Would Lizzo Buy)? Instacart has added a new feature called “Carts” where users can shop curated collections of products put together by retailers and pop culture personalities. Shoppers can see what Lizzo would add to her cart, or suggested items for a “Self Care Sunday.”

Stripping Down Starbies. What is it about PSL SZN that makes you do strange and unexpected things? Starbucks’ COO is exiting the company in early October, and the company has announced plans to eliminate the COO position entirely. This move follows prior executive role shakeups, including the return of founder Schultz to the acting CEO role, and the rumored launch of a Web3 token-based loyalty program later this year. 

Instability AI. Stable Diffusion, Stability Ai’s new open-source image generator is raising ethical questions because of its lack of filters. Uncensored, easy-to-create nude artwork and the possibility of creating “pornographic deepfakes” which could be used for blackmailing purposes are becoming a concern.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! New data shows that the U.S. labor market is stronger post-pandemic than what the Labor Department previously thought. Adjusted numbers show an average of 39,000 more jobs added a month than prior reports.

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