Keith Crawford and David Odusanya, two former Nike marketers, are trying to reinvent the cremation business in a direct-to-consumer (DTC) pivot that could do away with traditional funeral experiences that often cost a pretty penny, Ad Age reports.
Experts believe millennials and Gen Z in particular are looking for new ways to honor the death of their loved ones, sparking the emergence of a number of new startups trying to disrupt the death business.
Crawford and Odusanya's business, Solace Cremation, aims to breathe new life into an industry bogged down by stuffy and out-of-date practices.
That means its clients don't really have to ever leave the comfort of their own home. According to its website, Solace takes care of the pickup of the body, the paperwork, and return of the remains via a tracked USPS parcel. Urns are made of "3D-printed, glazed white stoneware" and can accommodate the ashes of a person of up to 200 pounds.
As of right now, the company is only serving specific areas in California, Florida, and Oregon as cremation regulations vary from state to state.
"We quickly realized this shift toward cremation from burial means the idea of a traditional brick-and-mortar funeral home doesn’t make sense," Crawford told Ad Age, adding that Solace is "simplifying and modernizing the whole experience from beginning to end."
"We went from sneakers to death," Odusanya added.
Naturally, the COVID-19 era lockdowns only helped Solace take off over the last couple of years. Just like buying a mattress from a DTC mail-order company, the startup is promising a smooth funeral arrangement experience.
"When COVID came and the idea of going into a physical business to do anything was pretty crazy, and people didn’t want to do it, it accelerated the relevance of our model, which is a virtual one," Crawford told Ad Age.
That means Solace can also charge a whole lot less. A cremation costs just $895, almost a third of the national average, according to the report.
"Gen X is who we’re marketing to," Mallory Greene, the founder of Eirene, another cremation company, told The New York Times earlier this year, arguing that the funeral business is "one of the industries that really hasn’t changed in the past 100 years."
Only time will tell if the likes of Solace and Eirene will be able to inject that change permanently. But given the fact that saying goodbye to a loved one is already extremely difficult, having simpler and cheaper options available may just be what people are looking for.
READ MORE: How DTC cremation company Solace is building a brand in the death business [Ad Age]
More on funerals: 7 Futuristic Things To Do With Your Body When You Die