Branding playing major role in Taiwan’s NT$50 billion funeral industry 殯葬業年商機五百億 品牌效應強

Wed, Jun 04, 2014 - Page 11

Nearly all ethnic Chinese (huaren) regard death as a taboo subject. Nevertheless, death is a solemn fact that everyone must face eventually. According to statistics from the Ministry of the Interior, people 65 and older make up more than 11 percent of Taiwan’s total population, and last year 156,000 people died within the span of a single year. It is estimated that 50 years from now that number will have doubled, with upwards of 340,000 people dying in Taiwan every year, which means that the funeral sector is rife with opportunities to make a killing.

According to Lung Yen Life Service Corp’s statistics, if 156,000 people die every year and an average of NT$330,000 must be spent for each person’s funeral service, Taiwan’s funeral service market provides at least NT$50 billion (US$1.66 billion) in business opportunities annually. Lung Yen is Taiwan’s leading enterprise in the funeral services sector. With a total annual revenue of around NT$4 billion, however, the company only has 8 percent of total market share. It is becoming apparent that the big fish keep getting bigger and that branding is gradually catching on.

However, we often hear our friends say that they have already bought a columbarium niche, or even several columbaria. The impression is that columbaria supply is therefore greater than demand. According to the ministry’s statistics, however, there are a total of 458 ossuaries in Taiwan, which consist of 8.01 million columbarium niches — 3 million of which are already being used, meaning that 5 million niches are currently empty.

Among these 5 million columbaria, however, many are public ossuaries or ones built illegally by temples. Even though these have been legalized, the law stipulates that such facilities cannot be rebuilt once they have fallen into disrepair. This, along with the poor quality and management of public ossuaries, tends to discourage the general public from placing any lasting confidence in public ossuaries, which has led brand-name companies to believe that people will favor brand names they can trust when purchasing columbarium niches. Lun Yen and the Chinpaosan Group are the only two companies at present targeting the high-end market.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)