Of the 672 art buyers surveyed (up from 519 last year), only 10% (or 67 people) reported spending more than £100,000 on art and collectibles in 2015 and 5% reported spending between £50,000 and £100,000. The vast majority of online art buyers have relatively small budgets, with 69% spending less than £10,000 per year, and roughly half of that number spending less than £1,000. Hiscox suggests that this distribution is a positive indicator for the online art sector’s long term health: Growth in the online art market may in fact be coming from new buyers, unknown to those conducting the study, who are making small purchases.
Online marketplaces are eclipsing online auctions as the favored method of purchasing art, indicating that buyers are increasingly interested in fixed-price options.
Although all online platforms have seen an increase in the number of buyers active on their sites in the past year, the largest boost was in the realm of “online art marketplaces.” Compared to 21% in 2015, 41% of this year’s respondents had purchased art from online marketplaces. These platforms are even more popular among buyers between the ages of 18 and 35, where just over half of respondents are purchasing art through online marketplaces. This marks the first time online marketplaces have surpassed online auctions in popularity, albeit only slightly—37% of buyers surveyed for the 2016 report had purchased art via auction. These numbers seem to indicate a growing preference for “buy now” options, as opposed to timed or live auctions. Online auction aggregator Invaluable acknowledged the shift early last month by introducing a fixed-price alternative on their website; traditional auctioneers Christie’s and Bukowski’s already sell a portion of their works online for a set price.
Online art sales are joining the migration from desktop to mobile.
There’s been a shift in the way we surf the web—just last month, people in the U.S. spent more than a trillion minutes online with mobile devices, close to double the amount of time they spent on desktop computers. This trend is reflected in the Hiscox report, which demonstrates a growing reliance on smartphones and other devices to access online art platforms. On average, 40% of visitor traffic and 24% of bids and transactions came through mobile, according to data collected from 9 online art sellers. Although the level of mobile traffic appears relatively consistent between companies, mobile sales vary significantly. Artfinder is the most mobile-oriented of the companies surveyed, with a notable 43% of bids and transactions taking place via mobile. Artsy and Paddle8 fall above average, at 30%; Artspace and Invaluable, however, sell only about 15% of their works via mobile.