While I don’t ask my clients their age when they are making a purchase, it’s safe to say that a majority of my customers are in the 55-70 range. In my conversations with other gallery owners and artists around the country it seems that this demographic group drives much of the activity in the art market. None of this should come as a surprise – our clients in that age range are at or near retirement – they are often empty-nesters at this point, and they’ve obtained a certain level of success after years of work that allows them to feel they deserve to indulge in fine art purchases (not to mention the fact that they now have the disposable income to afford the purchases). Luckily for all of us, that age range is experiencing a major explosion as baby-boomers move from middle-age into the beginning of their golden years. Barring an repeat of the recent economic meltdown, the next decade should be a good one for the art market.
A recent article on FastCompany.com got me thinking about the long-term, however. Sociologists and retail analysts report that there is a major shift in attitude occurring in the next generation of consumers (the “Millenials”) and, to a certain extent, across all consumers. The article theorizes that as our digital life moves more and more into the cloud where everything is free or almost free, the need to buy physical things seems to be diminishing. This shift (assuming it’s real, and not just another doomsday headline designed to sell more magazines) could certainly affect the future of the art business. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The article indicates that rather than the traditional need to own things for the sake of owning them, the next generation of buyers are interested in acquiring things for three reasons: 1. These people buy things because of how they make their lives better, 2. People buy things because of what they can tell others about the things (in otherwords, sharing and the social element are important) and 3. People buy things because of what having the things says about the buyer. These are all factors that play pretty well into the art market already.
Read the article on fastcompany.com
What do you think – is the future of the art market troubled by tectonic shifts in people’s attitudes toward buying? How will technology play into the future of the art market? Instead of buying physical art, will buyers simply be displaying digital art on art screens in their homes?