In 2020, the art market had no choice but to digitize. This raised fundamental questions:
How can art be sold digitally? What are the advantages of different online sales formats? How is today’s online behaviour changing the art market?
In its Collector’s Edition, the ART+TECH Report has set out to answer these questions from a buyer’s perspective and asked 380 international art collectors about their personal experiences when buying art online in 2020 and how they would like to buy art online in the future. The report has been published in April 2021.
"Many thanks for sharing your ART + TECH REPORT - I found it very informative, thorough and well-presented with easy to digest graphics and statistics. The opinions of the 40 and under group also provided great insight into their specific motivations, very important for us all to consider to ensure as a market we adapt to their needs. At a time when the art world is expanding both in the technical support now available to businesses of all sizes alongside the incredible talent among digital artists, this topic is critical to all those looking to the future."
Dirk Boll, President Europe & UK, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) Christie’s (London, UK)
"The Art+Tech Report was like a playbook in building misa.art."
Johann König, KÖNIG Gallery (Berlin, Germany)
“The Art + Tech Report allows us a rare peek into what is really going on out there and comes at a time where we all need to redefine how we are doing business in a rapidly changing environment. With a lot of guesswork, we all try to carefully calculate our steps and this report offers a databased railing to hold on to.”
Thomas Schulte, Founder Thomas Schulte Galerie (Berlin, Germany)
“This report gives guidance for the accelerated digitalization of the art world. The outcome provides insights in how today’s online behavior is changing the art market rapidly and confirms that digital strategies are here to stay. I am looking forward to future developments and the next edition of the Art+Tech Report | Collectors Edition.”
Paul van den Biesen, Global Relationships Director, The European Art Fair Foundation (TEFAF)
(Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
“As the CEO of ARTERNAL, it is important for me to be up to speed with different players in the market, from the collector to the dealer. The Art + Tech Report really dialed in on the art market and its response to the pandemic. While I had assumptions, it was very key to see the actual data from their market research which highlighted the growing trend in online purchases and the appetite to continue the trend. This helps to further inform our product direction as we build industry leading technology for the business of art.“
Sean Green, CEO ARTERNAL (NYC, USA)
"The Art+Tech Report was very informative for our work as legal art market advisers, as it reflects the interests of market stakeholders that have changed due to the new digital possibilities on an independent basis."
Dr. Pascal Decker, Chairman Supervisory Board, artnet AG (Berlin, Germany/ NYC, USA)
Art Market Attorney (Berlin, Germany)
As part of the ART + TECH Report | Collectors Edition, 380 international art collectors were surveyed about their personal experiences buying art online in 2020 and how they would like to buy art online in the future.
The online survey was conducted between December 2020 and January 2021 in German and English (using the Typeform software). The total respondents represented an even split amongst those who identified as male or female (at 48% each) and included a variety of age groups and collector profiles.
All cited quotes are anonymous, unmodified comments from respondents taken from the online survey.
In this report, the term “NextGen Art Collectors” is used to refer to collectors who are 40 or younger.
The most important findings are summarized in the following 9 chapters:
(Please find the complete report below as a download)
80% of the surveyed art collectors have bought art online at least once.
80% of the art collectors surveyed have already bought art online at least once, 50% of them 2 to 5 times and 14% even more than 10 times; with regard to the proportion of those who have already bought online, there are no significant differences between age groups or genders.
These purchases were mainly paintings (42%), editions (42%) and photography (38%). 58% of online art purchases went to young artists, 27% to mid-career artists and 15% to established artists.
“Online and Art is the new normal.”
9 out of 10 art collectors would like to see prices displayed when buying art online.
9 out of 10 art collectors would like to see prices displayed when buying art online.
There are no significant differences between age groups or genders.
Consequently, for surveyed formats, the most popular online sales formats are those in which prices are displayed: First and foremost online stores (66% purchased, 84% showed prices) and online auctions (69% purchased, 84% showed prices).
“Price transparency is extremely helpful in not wasting any of our time.”
Gallery and artist websites are the most important medium for online information in the context of art.
Gallery and artist websites are by far the most important online source of art-related information for respondents across all age groups and genders, at 85%.
The majority of all respondents continued to state that an intuitive and engaging user experience (UX) is important to them when they go online.
“Galleries websites are often overwhelming with pages packed with too much information, they need to learn how to simplify and edit for digital purposes.”
More than 3/4 of those who bought art online hadn’t seen the work physically beforehand.
More than 3/4 of respondents who had bought art online had not physically seen the work before the purchase. There are no differences between age groups or gender.
This high figure is surprising in that 67% of respondents said they would miss the physical experience if they had to buy online.
“Viewing [artwork] live is more fun, but I still bought online.“
2/3 of users of online sales formats want personal communication in real time.
Across all online sales formats surveyed, 2/3 of users would like to see a form of personal communication in real time (IRT). Accordingly, the lack of personal communication in real time was one of the main reasons why collectors ultimately did not buy online.
25% of the respondents would like to have the possibility of a video call, 24% would like to chat live and 20% wanted a link to a direct messaging app.
“The personal contact that creates trust and is important for a purchase can also be maintained digitally.“
Across all age groups, 86% of art collectors use social media.
Across all age groups, 86% of the art collectors surveyed use social media.
At 80%, Instagram is the most popular social media platform, with 71% using it specifically in the context of art, women (75%) significantly more than men (51%).
Right behind Instagram in second place is, surprisingly, LinkedIn. The platform is used by 68% of the collectors surveyed, and over a quarter use it explicitly in the art context.
"Social media allows me to discover so many new artists!"
71% used OVRs last year, but only 15% bought anything.
96% of the collectors surveyed used at least one online sales channel in 2020. 71% of them used OVRs (rank 1).
In contrast, only 15% of the respondents who visited an OVR made a purchase. This rate is significantly lower than for all other online sales formats surveyed. OVRs have therefore not yet proven themselves as a sales channel.
"The digital offerings were often overwhelming and boring, would love more focus!"
How tomorrow's art collectors tick.
The NextGen art collector is female: The proportion of women in the younger generation of collectors (64%) is significantly higher than in the age groups over 40 (39%).
Over 40% of young art collectors plan to buy more art online this year (2021) than last year. This figure is around twice as high as in the other age groups.
Nearly 80% of NextGen art collectors bought art online in 2020, 76% of them without having seen the work beforehand, 37% without having been familiar with the artist beforehand. (Compared to other age groups, the second figure in particular is significantly higher).
The surveyed NextGen art collectors use social media within the art context to stay informed — significantly more so than older art collectors (79% vs. 45%).
In contrast to other age groups, Instagram takes first place among NextGen collectors with an 85% share across all surveyed sales formats (ahead of online stores with 70% and OVRs with 64%).
At a rate of 66%, NextGen art collectors mostly buy artists of their own generation online, primarily paintings (39%), editions (46%) and photography (39%).
69% of art collectors surveyed will buy as much or more art online this year (2021).
69% of the collectors surveyed say they will buy the same amount or more art online in 2021 than in the previous year. Women more so than men (72% vs. 66%) and NextGen art collectors the most eager at 76%.
For 2/3 of the art collectors surveyed, the relevance of online sales will continue to increase in the future. Women are even more positive about this development than men, at 74%.
73% of the respondents believe that 3rd-party platforms will have the greatest sales potential as an art buying format in the future, followed by online auctions with 67%, online stores with 64% and Instagram with 63%.
“The art market has finally entered the digital world.”
Download the full report: