Survey of Art Buying Preferences Reveals Generational Differences

A 2016 survey of “American Attitudes toward Art” found that age is a major factor in art discovery and art buying practices and preferences. Compared to their Baby Boomer elders, Millennials are much more likely to discover new art through social media. In terms of art buying, Millennials are also more likely to purchase art through an online marketplace or website.

The survey of nearly 5,000 U.S. adults was commissioned by Invaluable, a leading online marketplace for fine art, antiques, and collectibles.

Survey findings show that social media channels such as Instagram and Pinterest were the preferred art discovery tools of Millennials. Nearly half (44.3 percent) of young Millennials (ages 18-24) and 33.8 percent of older Millennials (ages 25-34) indicate that they discover new art through social media. This compares to 29.5 percent of older Baby Boomers (age 65+) who prefer a more traditional discovery path of finding new art through museums.

Overall, 37 percent of U.S. consumers said they would buy art online. More than half of Millennial respondents (59.9 percent for ages 18-24 and 51.6 percent for ages 24-34) said they would purchase art online. This is much higher than the 19 percent of older Baby Boomers (age 65+) who said they would purchase art online.

In fact, roughly one in four Millennials age 18 to 24 prefer to purchase art through an online marketplace or website.

“There has never been a more critical time for our industry to prepare and execute digital strategies that engage, inspire, and capture the next generation of art buyers — Millennials,” said Rob Weisberg, Invaluable CEO.

While findings reveal that Millennials aren’t purchasing art as frequently as Baby Boomers, the survey shows Millennials see long-term value in purchasing art. Roughly 42 percent of young Millennials and 37.2 percent of older Millennials surveyed believe that buying art is a good investment, compared to roughly 32 percent of Baby Boomers.

“These findings not only reveal the importance of connecting and assimilating new generations and first-time buyers into the art ecosystem, it also spotlights a tremendous growth opportunity in reaching new segments of buyers,” said Weiseberg. “As digital-first preferences continue driving more interest from Millennial buyers, we know that technology will play a critical role in engaging and connecting this generation to the art world.”

Other findings

Art Appreciation: Almost one-half (48%) of all respondents said they like or appreciate art. About 55% of the respondents over the age of 65  reported an appreciation of art.

Visiting Cultural Institutions: Consumers continue to visit museums and galleries, with 38.6 percent visiting once a year and 14 percent visiting monthly. About 15 percent admitted they don’t visit museums and galleries.

Purchasing Art: Overall, 37 percent of respondents said they would consider buying art online. Survey respondents are mostly likely to buy art at an art fair (26.2 percent), gallery (19.2 percent),  flea market (16.2 percent), other sites (15.9 percent), and online marketplace or website (15.2 percent). Only 7.3 percent said they buy art at an in-person auction.

Visit for more information about the “American Attitudes Toward Art” survey.