Funeral Services: The Silent Oligopoly

An Exploration of the Funeral Industry in the United States


  • Jennifer DiCamillo LARES DBA Graduate - Doctor of Business Administration, University of the Incarnate Word, TX, USA
  • Kruti LEHENBAUER Ph.D. Professor of Business Economics, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX, USA


Funeral, oligopoly, mortuary, competition,, unsought, pricing


A large number of industries fall under the Oligopolistic Model, and extensive literature exists on their key elements such as marketing, price competition, product differentiation, and regulatory influence. An often-overlooked industry in the literature is the Funeral Services Industry. This paper delves into a brief history of the funeral service business and demonstrates how this peculiar industry in the United States functions within the economic elements of a traditional oligopoly. The unique challenges faced by the funeral industry are explored as are the service and product aspects that have few comparisons among other industries. The funeral industry is placed within the context of a detailed literature review and analysis of oligopolies and their features, with specific focus on how firms in this industry that provide inelastic “death services†thrive despite the limitations on what and how to advertise in the market. The existing void surrounding this fascinating business will be filled as we investigate death care in the United States – the silent oligopoly.



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