WHAT PEOPLE BUY: ART, PRINTS, LITHOGRAPHS


WHAT PEOPLE BUY: ART, PRINTS, LITHOGRAPHS

Just over 40 percent of households (42 percent) bought some kind of art in 2003, up significantly from the purchase incidence in 2001. With consumers turning their attention to the walls for decorating, they are responding to new availability of ready-to-hang art at retail outlets ranging from mass merchants and discounters to home specialty stores. No longer are consumers required to seek decorative art in out-of-the-way galleries and art dealers, or pay exorbitant prices to custom frame a print. Already-framed art, as well as the explosion of specialty framing boutiques that offer affordable and quick custom frames, have opened the art market to the masses.

Industry Snapshot

The consumer market for art reached $27.6 billion in 2002, up 8.4 percent over sales in 2000. The fastest growing category in art is already-framed art, which grew nearly 30 percent in the past two years (see Figure 8.3). While already-framed art is up, the sales of unframed prints declined by 17 percent as consumers opt for the one-stop shop convenience of already-framed art.

 

2000

2002

% CHG '00-'02

Total Personal Consumption in millions

$25,489.80

$27,632.30

8.4

Already-framed prints

6,768.60

8,583.80

26.8

Unframed prints

5,255.00

4,357.30

-17.1

Custom-framed art*

5,215.20

5,663.80

8.6

Original art

8,251.00

9,027.40

9.4

Source: Unity Marketing


Figure 8.3: Art Industry Snapshot

Retail Overview

The art market is rapidly becoming a mass market. Preframed prints are available at all sorts of outlets, including Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart, as well as at national specialty home furnishings chains, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Bombay Company, Pier 1, and Linens 'n Things. Over the past several years Kirkland's has emerged as an important retailer of high-quality, already-framed art. With approximately 250 stores nationwide situated in mall locations, Kirkland's offers its customers high-quality art at affordable prices. The company generates about one-fourth of its total $307 million in sales from art and wall décor and says in its annual report that its diverse mix of home décor items, with most selling for under $50, are perceived by their customers as "affordable luxuries."

The custom-framing segment of the art market is also in transition with the introduction of custom-framing services in craft stores nationwide. No longer the exclusive purview of art galleries and specialty framing stores, custom framing services are now available at nationwide craft chains, like Michael's, A.C. Moore, Hobby Lobby, and Jo-Ann Stores (see Figure 8.4). Because the crafters offer limited framing choices at significantly lower prices than the specialty mom-and-pop art framing stores, they are drawing a mass audience to art framing. They also have been instrumental in introducing the concept of using shadow-box frames to display three-dimensional collectibles and crafts to a wider audience, proving that custom-framing isn't just for two-dimensional artwork any more.

 

2002 SALES

Michaels w/Aaron Brothers (923 stores)

$2.5 billion

Jo-Ann Stores (959 stores)

1.5 billion

Hobby Lobby (272 stores)

1.0 billion

Bombay Company (420 stores)

494 million

A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts (70 stores)

393 million

Kirklands (250 stores)

307 million

Deck the Walls/The Great Frame Up (about 100 stores)

100 million

Source: Unity Marketing


Figure 8.4: Art & Framing Market Share Leaders

While all this activity is going on at the mass level, a more clearly differentiated market at the luxury end is emerging among connoisseurs. Sales of original art, defined as one-of-a-kind work, such as watercolor, oil painting, pencil sketch, and chalk drawing, are growing. Original art is more available and accessible than ever before to today's art buyer. Moreover, recent advances in art reproduction technologies, such as printing on canvas and Giclée, have the greatest appeal to the upper end of the art-buying market. Today's art buyers are more sophisticated and better educated, so they can truly appreciate the value of owning a one-of-a-kind piece.

Purchase Drivers

For some consumers, art is something they put on their walls to match the color of their sofa, but for others the art they select is an important outlet for personal self-expression. That's why more than half of the art buyers in a recent survey agreed with the following statement: "When choosing art for my home, the way the piece makes me feel is more important than whether it matches the décor in my home."

But whether shoppers buy art to decorate or for emotional reasons, the fact is once the piece is hung, it becomes part of the architecture of the room, like the windows and doors. One focus group respondent told us: "I have kept the same pictures my entire 35 years of marriage, longer than I have kept anything else in my home. I buy something and if it fits, it stays."

Others, however, collect art and use it to create a mood in the home. One respondent who collects art explains: "I appreciate the creativity of the artist. I have both originals and prints. When I go to art shows, I am amazed. It is a real lift to see the art. I enjoy it so much." Another respondent with a passion for mountain lions displays a series of prints in her home: "We have a collection of mountain lion prints. It is a focal point of our home. When people come into the house, they see our art and find it interesting and want to talk about it."

Art adds decorative value and provides a focal point, but it also colors the emotional mood in the home. As this respondent put it: "Art is like a candle. It makes you feel good. I feel good when there are things hanging in my house that I really like."

Demographic Variables

Art is a gender-neutral category, purchased by men and women at the same rate. Art purchases are slightly elevated among younger consumers aged 18 to 34, with purchase incidence declining slightly after age 35. As in so many other categories, purchase incidence tanks after age 65. Art-purchasing households tend to have higher incomes, with those households making $50,000 or more per year reporting the highest purchase incidence. Household composition has little impact on the purchase of art, with two-person households, three-person households, and those with children purchasing at about the same rate.

Contributing to the growth in the art market is an increasingly educated consumer market. This also correlates strongly with increased house-hold income levels. Because 28 percent of adult Americans older than age 25 have completed four or more years of college, up from 24 percent in 1990, the prospects for the art market look bright for the years ahead. Purchase incidence rises with education, and households with completed college degrees and those with higher levels of educational attainment have the highest purchase incidence.

Key Demographics of Buyers of Art, Prints, and Pictures.

  • This is a gender-neutral category.

  • Purchase incidence rises with income and education.

  • Incidence skews toward ages 18 to 34.

  • Household composition is not a factor.