Understanding Gen Z in the Art Market

Understanding Gen Z in the Art Market

Source: Artsper.

If you were born anywhere between 1997 and 2010, you’re part of Generation Z. If you work in the art market and aren’t already pushing your marketing strategies towards Gen Z, you should be. But how, as a gallery or artist, do you tap into an audience who is only just emerging into the world of buying art? Artsper has put together a guide on how to boost engagement from a Gen Z audience.

Who are Gen Z, and why are they so important for the art world?

Art Basel reported that in 2022 Gen Z art collectors spent more than 30% of their net worth on buying art, and their willingness not only to enter the art world, but to actually buy art, should not be overlooked. In 2021, under 25s spent a total of $143 billion in the U.S alone, of which, $3 billion was either directly or indirectly attributed to the art market. As such, brands across all sectors are wising up to the importance of this generation, and rapidly changing their marketing strategies.

The art market has undergone many changes within the past decades, notably a shift to online marketplaces and the use of social media. Gen-Zers, as the first social-media-native generation, are no strangers to navigating the waters of online buying and selling, preferring the ease of online platforms, like Artsper. And, with Gen Z having perhaps the discerning view of digital marketing techniques of any age group, it is advised that you adapt your strategies to appeal to this new generation of buyers.

The attention span of Gen-Zers is of about 8 seconds on average (vs. 12 seconds for Millenials) meaning that brands now even have less time to attract a captive audience. What’s more, due to the sheer volume of data and information available to Gen Z, they care a lot more about what they’re purchasing, seeking a personal, tailored connection with the brand, rather than just buying a product.

The increasing spending power of Gen Z © Marketingcharts.com

Make the ethos of your gallery clear, underline your morals and principles

Gen Z collectors tend to buy art according to their own personal ethical views. Gen Z buyers are more likely to buy art to support an artist or artist friend than previous generations, a trend consistent with the general findings that Gen-Zers are more interested in purchasing art that relates to their own identity, rather than to attract status or mass appeal. The stereotype that Gen Z does everything solely based on trends or to get Instagram likes is actually fairly outdated.

What’s more, when buying art, Gen Z is more likely to put just as much value in the background of the gallery or artist, your ethos, values and story, as they would in a single piece of isolated art. It is important for you to curate a holistic brand image to attract and retain a group of Gen Z customers who want to buy from a company that aligns with their own morals.

Authenticity is everything

There are three main areas of emphasis a gallery should adopt when trying to attract Gen Z buyers; loyalty, transparency, and authenticity. Gen Z, being social media natives, are no strangers to marketing techniques, and can spot when brands market products in a way that seems forced, or disloyal, to its ethos. Instead, make your values clear, and Gen Z is on average four times more likely to make a purchaseTransparency like this allows for authentic, honest marketing.

Informal influencing

One might turn to influencer marketing as a means of creating a personal, authentic experience for the customer. And, although it is still key to the success of a brand, it has changed significantly from the hyper-staged ads of the latter half of the 2010s. Don’t worry, influencers are not going anywhere, but the way in which they influence, and the way in which brands can capitalize on this, is evolving.

Gone are the days of unapproachable, mega influencers. Gen Z lean towards smaller influencers, who can provide a more authentic review of products to a more niche, curated audience, and who see proportionally far higher engagement levels. Alternatively, the large influencers who retain their engagement are those who maintain an intimate, informal relationship with their followers. Ask you Gen Z colleagues, friends or family about popular influencers, and why not use them in your next marketing campaign?

Influencer marketing Gen Z-style seen through @Iirislaw (left) who uses her personal identity and tastes to inspire, vs Millennial influencing @danidyerxx (right), who promotes products in a less authentic, personal manner © Instagram

Informal does not equal unprofessional

An increasing number of professionals are adapting a more personal marketing approach, and this is no different for the art market. Whether you are a gallery or an artist, you need to create an online presence which is both professional, yet human. After all, art is meant to evoke feeling and emotion in those who are viewing it, and hence the marketing of art should reflect this. A good employment of content marketing, for example, allows the collector to have a personal connection with the piece that he/she is buying.

The key is to speak to Gen Z in a subtler manner, and make the fact that you’re “marketing” your products less evident. This may seem daunting, but there is no reason why galleries, being visual-based companies, can’t implicate similar marketing strategies into their social media in order to attract a customer base of Gen Z.

Gen Z centric art magazine, Off the Rails, who mixes art promotions with informal snapshots of editors, gallery owners and artists’ lives, rendering the art world more exciting and approachable to younger generations. © Instagram

TikTok is the future of social media marketing

To achieve such an online presence, the obvious choice of social media would be TikTok. It allows, through its algorithm, for a fairly organic content reach, and suits the short attention span of Gen Z. Many within the art market are yet to fully mobilize themselves on tiktok for fear of decreasing their brand image.

Sotheby’sChristie’s and The Met all launch on TikTok in an authentic yet professional way © Tiktok

However, this is far from the case! Art institutions such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s and The Met, have launched on TikTok in a way which is informative, sticks to the brand aesthetic, and yet feels authentic – a more personal view into a world which to many seems unapproachable. The content is filmed in a way that is entertaining, as opposed to overly produced or formal. So, why are more galleries so reluctant to take the step?

The power of TikTok regarding Gen Z purchasing power © marketingcharts.com

Is it all worth it?

Many amongst you might be thinking, is it really worth it? It’ll be at least ten years before the art-spending power of Gen Z matches that of older generations. Why restructure your marketing strategy for people who only represent a fraction of your customer base? The answer, it could well be argued, is because the tastes of Gen Z represent a wider shift in buying and selling, one towards transparency, authenticity, and a removal of the hierarchical relationship between seller and buyer. They might not be your key consumers yet, but they soon will be.

Artsper’s main piece of advice? Hire a Gen-Zer into your marketing team, or consult those who already work with you. Give them your content, and ask them how they would go about communicating and adapting it to a Gen Z audience. With their social media expertise, and your market analysis experience, it is likely that you’ll come up with relevant, successful ideas.

In conclusion, Gen Z is here to stay in the art world. As already outlined, they have started to invest into the market, and this is a trend which will only grow. The art market, often considered unapproachable by younger generations, needs to catch up in terms of its marketing and its values. So, are you ready to take the first step towards this new generation of collectors?