Millennials, people born in the 80s and 90s, seem to be most hated generation. They live off of their parents’ fortunes, they’re always on their cell phones, and they can’t keep a job longer than a week. If millennials are as entitled and irresponsible as the media seems to believe they are, then what will happen to arts and culture when their generation rises into power?
This question has been asked by many visual arts organizations as their consumer base continuously dwindles each year. However, not all statistics are against millennials. In fact, studies are beginning to show that many millennials are incredibly interested in growing and maintaining art collections. According to Artnet News, millennials show huge market potential since they are the largest generation currently in the workforce. Many will be inheriting their parents’ art collections in the next few years, causing them to suddenly become key players in the art market. In 2018, a study from insurance agency AXA determined that more than 25% of today’s art collectors are part of the millennial generation.
Prior to contrary belief, the digital age has actually seemed to highlight the reach and importance of new artwork. Moreover, social media has caused great strides with artistic interaction online. According to a study by Park West Gallery, 55% of people reported that social media allowed them to experience and interact with artwork in new and interesting ways.
Obviously, millennials have a great interest in both learning about and purchasing artwork. The key factor is communication. Advertising tactics have shifted dramatically in the past few years, and even art galleries must learn to adapt when speaking to younger customers. In 2016, a survey by the auction house Invaluable found that in 2015, social media overtook galleries and museums as the top venue where people discover new artwork.
This discovery is key to surviving the changing times of advertising, communication, and art collection. Since millennials are more comfortable purchasing artwork online, auctions and galleries that do not have a social presence already have a disadvantage. As more arthouses join the digital sphere, there are a few changes they have made to appeal to the millennial state of mind.
Millennials are more resistant to spend money than their baby boomer counterparts. Because of this, several galleries are implementing lower price points, preferring to stay within a three-digit range. Lowering the price point of pieces sold online can help bring in tastemakers and influencers – two groups of socially-savvy millennials who tend to post their collected artwork online to ignite conversation and interaction with others.
Millennials research first and buy later. Since the millennial generation is more financially conscious, they prefer to let social media take on the workload found trekking from gallery to gallery. According to Artnet News, this trend developed because of this generation’s tendency to be “high-spending and time-poor” and to seek out convenience whenever they can.
Millennials hold great respect for visual arts. As part of their 2018 study, Park West Gallery professionals discovered that four out of five millennials consider visual art important to them – the highest ratio out of any age group surveyed. Millennials are collecting art that they are drawn to emotionally and they want to own art that speaks to their diverse and biographical identity. This means fostering new, young, and diverse artists is key to maintaining interest in the art collection industry.
The millennial generation is changing and challenging the art market by craving more personal interactions with art and artists than ever before. They will leave behind a 21st century perspective of a market that has been consistently adapting since its first incarnation in the 17th century.