Online Art market: what happened in 2020 and what are the prospects for 2021?

In the face of unstoppable expansion for more than 20 years now, the art market, especially modern and contemporary art, with a turnover of more than $70 billion in 2019, remains an excellent source of investment. 

Particularly attractive in the presence of volatility in other channels, starting with the financial markets

In fact, despite a slight contraction in the volume of sales, even last year, the general price index increased by more than 5% (almost 40% for the contemporary sector), showing a real growth in demand.

But as it grows, demand becomes more sophisticated and demanding and demands clear, fast and up-to-date answers.
italian paintings

Answers that traditional channels struggle to satisfy. This is where technological innovation comes in, able to offer the solutions and tools needed to meet these demands through the use of the network.

Auction houses in recent years have adapted more quickly to the change, while the gallery sector is still lagging behind. With the exception of a few major international players who launched their online viewing rooms between 2017 and 2018.

To better understand how the network is already a decisive element for the future development of the art market, we need only think that 2019 closed with transactions that reached almost $5.5 billion, a 10.2% increase on the previous year, and around 8% of global market sales.

And early estimates by industry analysts suggest that the 6 billion mark will be well exceeded in 2020, rising to 10 billion by 2023.

The composition of the target audience of online art buyers is transversal and heterogeneous: it ranges from the digital generation with no experience at all to the traditional collector.

According to the 2019 Hiscox online art trade report - almost 25% of the millennials who collect art today had never bought any artwork before: not in a gallery, not in an auction, not in the fairs that populate the planet. 

Moreover, 30% of the new generation of collectors say they prefer online purchases to "traditional" purchases (in 2017, just over 10%). Of these, nearly 80% reveal that they have made more than one purchase of works online in 2019 (+20% compared to 2018).

The average value of online purchases is still rather low, mainly works around 5-10 thousand $, but in recent years the web is conquering even the big collectors" of the art market. 

Large collectors are increasingly looking for information online. According to the report, it is precisely those who spend more than $100,000 a year on art who spend the most time on online platforms. 

And 47% of them also said they had shopped online in the last 12 months. In 2018 this percentage was 30%.

Technological investments aside, which are struggling to take off especially in the gallery sector and in Italy in particular, the great challenge for the online art business remains the building of a solid relationship with customers based on trust. 

Analysing data from the Hiscox online art trade report 2019, it emerges that 60% of those who buy art online see the difficulty of knowing the seller's reputation as the biggest obstacle, along with issues related to the authenticity of the work (62%) and the physical viewing of the work (70%).

The challenge of 'trust' is therefore primarily a matter for online-only platforms, while those linked to physical realities have an easier time of it, living off the reputation of the established brands behind them. 

But among the key factors that determine the success or otherwise of the online marketplace are also: price transparency (87%) and information about artists and works (81%). The latter two points are definitely lacking in galleries.
italyci paintings

In the light of these figures, we can see that online art sales have increased significantly.

Of course, this was also a consequence of Covid-19, but this period represents a real watershed between the past and the future of the art market.
The online market has taken on a very important role that can no longer be ignored, and all entities, from the largest to the smallest, are striving to make the most of its possibilities.

This does not mean, of course, that the whole market will move online, but that the future will probably be a hybrid market, made up of both physical places of sale and, perhaps above all, virtual places. 

Much was said about possible future scenarios, how the business models of galleries will be radically transformed and the new and very interesting opportunities that the online ecosystem offers artists to grow and sell. 

For these reasons Italyci offers a space dedicated to art, with paintings by the best Italian painters.

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