Virtual End-of-Life Services Boom During Covid-19
As we explored in Reframing Death, end-of-life planning – an industry previously dominated by traditional players and untouched by digital innovation – is being revolutionised as consumers seek fresh, personable and taboo-free services. Covid-19 is only accelerating this further, spurring a boom in digital wills and alternative bereavement spaces.
- Surge in Will Writing: Mounting global death tolls, coupled with first-hand experience of Covid-bereavement, are making consumers face a newfound awareness of their mortality. This has caused an increase in consumers writing their wills – an activity which the majority in the UK had failed to do pre-pandemic. However, global financial advisory firm the DeVere Group noted a 76% jump in demand for its wills service by the end of March alone.
- Enquiries for new wills have also increased by almost 300% at London-based online will-writing start-up Farewill. It’s now receiving around 2,000 requests per week – up from just 700 before the outbreak (Telegraph, 2020).
- Younger Consumers Engage: Millennials, the so-called ‘death-positive generation’, are partly responsible for the surge of pandemic will writing. New-York based digital end-of-life planning tool Lantern reported a 123% increase in users since the onset of the pandemic, most of them under 45.
- Younger consumers are also ditching emotional avoidance when it comes to death, opting instead for frank conversation. This is evidenced in the rise of deathfluencers and death cafes tackling rising Covid-19-specific mortality concerns.
- Rituals Go Virtual: Mortality and bereavement practices have been gradually evolving in the virtual space – a trend Stylus has been tracking since our Death-Positive Movement report in 2018. But due to Covid-19 and social distancing, online bereavement spaces have been growing at an unprecedented rate.
- Brands should take note and provide support for consumers seeking end-of-life planning in digital spaces. For example, Chicago-based start-up LifeWeb360 helps consumers create multimedia memorial scrapbooks. It recently teamed up with Canadian modern memorial planner New Narrative to create a guide for consumers planning virtual remembrance services during the pandemic.
- For more ways in which brands are supporting new attitudes towards death, see our recent post on The Brief.