NEWS: un settore che ancora non si cura dell'e-commerce

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Un saluto alla new-lista e bentornata Elena!!


Marketing the Unmarketable

The funeral industry looks to the Net and wonders: Are some things better
left nonvirtual?

By Aaron Lazenby (

Conventional Internet marketing wisdom states that if your company sets
its hype-o-meter to 11, it can sell a warehouse full of lemur spleens to
its target demographic. But some industries are proving remarkably
resistant to the power of Net marketing. Is it possible that there are
products or services that aren't ready for the e-marketing revolution?

Take the funeral-services industry. Despite offering a high convenience
factor to people who would rather devote their time to family than
logistics, the industry's bid to market on the Net has been largely
nonexistent. Even its own leaders concede that there are limitations. "So
far, most consumers do not relate Internet services to the event of a
death," says Kelly Smith, spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors

Indeed, motivating customers to take a virtual casket tour isn't exactly
the same as convincing them to buy a book or CD. Further complicating
matters is connectivity: More than 75 percent of NFDA members provide
service to families in small towns or cities with populations of fewer
than 50,000, where Internet access may be less entrenched, according to
the organization's Web site. And with 93 percent of funeral homes
operating with an average of only four employees, resources and staff are
focused on serving their local communities, not on maintaining a Web site.

Still, with funeral-services revenue estimated at $50 billion a year and
with online sales accounting for less then 1 percent of that number, the
industry is an attractive challenge for Internet marketers.

What appears to be the biggest hurdle facing online businesses looking for
success in death services may also prove to be the biggest asset: the
traditional-minded funeral directors themselves. By educating the
industry's offline old-school and convincing them of the new revenue
channels, pure-plays such as, FuneralNet and Plan4ever
are creating the evangelists they need to begin converting consumers to a
new generation of funeral commerce. President Mike Fullington, whose site helps users plan
funeral events and then e-mails the arrangements to a local funeral home,
agrees that consumer demand for Internet funeral services must be
cultivated by the industry's offline rank and file.
"We can help break down the barriers to customers by working through the
funeral directors," he says.

Transforming an industry's traditional sales force into e-commerce
converts may turn out to be an effective strategy for opening up a market.
Or, it may teach an equally important lesson - amid a frenzy of Net
marketing, some things are better left nonvirtual.


Cristina SETTI (
Brodeur Image Time - via Vela, 7 - 20133 Milano
tel: +39 02 2056 21 - fax: +39 02 2056 2222