The Hiscox report for this year 2017 appeared months ago. It is made annually by Art Tactic with the insurer Hiscox, and is mainly focused on the analysis of the online art market. The main thing we must highlight is the 15% increase in sales over the year 2016, good news mainly due to the natural distrust of many buyers with regard to online methods of sale. This is clearly due to two main factors.
The first is the adaptation that traditional art sales companies, especially auction houses, are taking to the online art world. Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Heritage Auction have adapted incredibly well to this new type of art market. The second factor is the rise of online sales platforms. While there is a sector of traditional art collectors who find it difficult to adapt to this new model of sale, there are others who, especially the younger ones, have adapted from the roots. They are mainly due to the success of platforms such as Invaluable, Artsy and Barnebys, who through a masterful use of social networks and a good method of work, safe and reliable, have gained many followers.
After the good news, we have to have a blow of reality. The title of the report is “A market yet to awaken?”, That is to say, despite the plausible figures that make us think that this type of market, modern and adapted to today’s society , is taking off and gaining a little more, we still have a lot to do.
Hiscox estimates the digital market at about $ 3.75 trillion, or 8.4% of the total share of art sales worldwide and, as we said at the beginning of the article, 15% of the growth compared to the year 2016. There have been other reports throughout this year, and although the figures may have been similar, they do not end up equaling. The Art Basel report, for example, reflected sales of $ 4.9 trillion. We have to specify something: the estimation of this report of Hiscox is based on the responses of 758 art buyers and 132 galleries and dealers, and 42 professionals and data from different platforms dedicated to online art.
The conclusions of the report were mainly the following:
- The growth of online sales is going strong, considering that there has been a globalized market downturn. Now, although stable and constant, it is being slow.
- As we said, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Heritage Auction have adapted well to this new market. The combination of the sale of art in physical in its own installation and at the same time its online marketing gives the name “bricks-and-clicks”, and at the moment they are the dominating companies. Among the three mentioned above we find more than 700 million dollars in digital, having more than 19% of total sales.
- This type of agglutination companies that also offer all kinds of art, as we say, dominate the market. The main marketplace of these features, mainly online, are Invaluable, Artsy and Barnebys.
- In 2011, it was usual to find the refusal of the galleries to use the online platforms, and now the vast majority have turned this resource into part of their sales strategy.
- Online shoppers do not grow excessively compared to the year 2016, although their number of purchases does.
- On average, they spend less than $ 5,000 per purchase in the online market.
- Analyzing the fears of art buyers, we find that the real condition in which the work is found is the main fear.
“The customer buying online wants to know if they are buying the best at the best price, and for the moment, with the opacity of the market this is not possible,” says Robert Read, head of private sales at Hiscox. “Having a brand is a big help because it gives people confidence,” this is one of the explanations why big auction houses are being consolidated by selling online.
In short, the client seeks the easy, fast and direct. Therefore, the platforms give the options of auction and direct purchase, working side by side with gallery owners and auction houses. The market, as we said, is still fragmented. It would be interesting to see the consolidations in a short time, probably improve the market situation exponentially. Improving customer confidence is a key point. Usually receive a large number of condition reports, requests for certificates of authenticity and the guarantee of 30 days of return, almost as in any online purchase.