How Galleries can Connect with a New Generation of Art Collectors

The newest generation of art collectors is turning the stereotype of the art collector on its head. At the same time, the art they collect and how they go about it reinforces the prevailing stereotypes of millennials as tech-savvy, connected, socially conscious and experiential more than materialistic.

As the unabashed selfie generation, millennials see art as an extension of their personal brand. Part of why they collect is to express who they are. They want something uniquely their own with a story to which they can relate. Drawn to artwork that has meaning and reflects what matters to them, young buyers are amassing collections that are more personal and eclectic.

Let us dive into the inspiration and drive for a new generation of art collectors and how art galleries can adapt to new strategies and tactics to attract a new target audience. 

Every Picture Tells A Story

Young collectors aren’t as eager to buy big-name artists or expensive works of art, deciding instead to explore the next rising star among or outsider artists. To succeed at bringing an unknown artist into the spotlight validates their tastes.

Millennials have never known a world without internet and mobile devices. Their comfort level with these technologies expands their quest geographically and otherwise. They venture beyond the mainstream art world into the digital realm. We’ve seen this throughout digital art platforms like Saatchi Online, Art.sy or Artfinder. Therefore Art galleries need to adhere to a new virtually based fast paced online strategy of content sharing and customer relations and embrace new technologies to cater to this technically savvy group.

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The Wealth Creation Generation

Generally speaking, millennials have less disposable income than older collectors, which affects their behavior and choices.  The Hiscox Art Report reveals that 44–46% of art buyers between 23–37 years buy online. For many of the millennials, there is no difference in preference for buying online and offline (29–40%) and many of them prefer to buy online instead of offline (14–22%).

Still, in the wealth creation stage of life, they collect works of living artists because that’s what they can afford. But they do their research and are discriminating. They’re on the lookout for affordable pieces that have the potential to increase in value.

Budget realities notwithstanding, young collectors seem more willing than established collectors to make riskier purchases. All these behaviors and technologies are creating disruptive forces in the art world. And those with a stake in it should pay attention.

Embrace A Little Competition

Why should art galleries take note of these shifts in the market? Digital platforms continue to grow as a way of broadening their reach towards potential collectors and artists.

Although established galleries have a select network of artists and collectors, they often lack the expertise and flexibility to broaden their circles of both artists and new collectors. Regardless of whether this is a preferred practice, many of today’s emerging art galleries are eagerly working on new strategies and campaigns to cater to a new tech-savvy generation of collectors.

It is no longer the era of secretive networking and knowledge sharing among a select few. Galleries must change their strategies and adopt a knowledge recourse approach. Millenials seed knowledge, it’s how a whole generation validates trust with their preferred partner of choice. And for those galleries who are not willing or able to share the knowledge they have gathered over the years, they will notice that adaptive galleries will surpass them over long or short.  

Millenial Collectors Are Pro Active

As we mentioned in our above section, knowledge sharing is key. Young collectors don’t just want to buy art, they also want to know more about the art world. Institutions like the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art all have programs that get Millennial collectors involved early.

The strategy of sharing knowledge to enrich millennial collectors is one gallery can use to broaden their circle of trust.

An observation that makes sense, because as pointed out above, the Millennial generation is a younger generation. It takes time to know the historical importance and references in art.

Dealer Matt Moravec of Off Vendome told artnet News, “I don’t think there is much of a difference between young and old collectors. Both can be trendy, good, bad, market driven or not. The biggest difference is maybe that older collectors often have a better understanding of art history and the place that newer work fits into a historical conversation.”

Millennial collectors understand in order to do their own research, they have to connect with the right people. This includes connecting with them via social media as well as in-person. Following the right people, check out what they have, most of the time it’s on Instagram, can be a go-to strategy for many young and emerging galleries and art dealers.

No matter what strategy art galleries adapt to. It’s important for emerging and established galleries to know, how new and old generations of collectors buy art in a time of rapid online commerce of art and adapt towards a new way of operating as an in-between of artists and collectors and add value to a new market.

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