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Understanding your target market in the artworld

07 February 2022

Understanding your target market in the artworld

It’s time to demystify the artworld target market and to grow your business through identifying and finetuning your target market. This is pivotal to a successful marketing strategy.  We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Content is King’. Content is what drives potential buyers to your gallery, website, or Instagram account. But generating good content that will hold its own on social media platforms that are oversaturated with content is not so easy to do.  A key step to achieving this and your marketing objectives and not wasting money is identifying your key audience.  

Understanding the art market and your audience analytics are two easy steps to hone in on your target market so that you get the best results out of your marketing campaign by clearly identifying who it is you want to attract. Grab a pen and notebook, and let’s start the process…

Understanding the art market

To communicate to your target audience effectively, you must understand who they are. The art industry is complex and broad. There are many different factors that come into play and drive purchasing behavior. It is vital to know who you want to talk to and who you want to attract. The world is an entirely different place from what it was three years ago. What was accepted as normal and the way of the world in 2019, is just not how we do it anymore. Lockdowns across the world have changed how people behave, how they consume media, and ultimately how they purchase art. 

Art consumers come in many forms, and it is important to understand emerging trends in the artworld and how trends have impacted your different potential target markets.

Firstly, let’s understand the concept of the ‘Artworld’. According to Wikipedia, the artworld can be defined as: “… everyone involved in producing, commissioning, presenting, preserving, promoting, chronicling, criticizing, buying and selling fine art. It is recognized that there are many art worlds, defined either by location or alternative definitions of fine art. However, we all know that the ‘artworld’ was traditionally made up of an elite number of critics, collectors, and big gallerists. These select few tastemakers made key decisions about what was deemed acceptable and collectible and what was not. 

Art was sold at fairs, exhibitions, and galleries. There was an order to the artworld.

Then in the blink of an eye, the entire artworld changed. Covid-19 and its severe restrictions on events and life as we knew it brought about a new order. Here are some of the changes and trends that have changed the face of art as we know it:

  • The bottom fell out of the art market in 2020, with sales dropping by 14 billion US dollars from 2019 to just 50 billion US dollars in 2020. See Statistica report

  • Online art sales doubled in 2020 over 2019 and this growth will continue with an estimated 5.8 billion US dollars this year in 2022. 

  • According to the Market Insider, the NFT market in 2021 was estimated at 41 billion US dollars, almost the size of the global art market. This is expected to grow exponentially in 2022. 

As our virtual and physical worlds started converging, these trends led to a number of changes in art buying behavior as follows:

  • Both art collectors and art buyers started looking online for works and artists instead of working through art dealers and galleries. 

  • Gallerists sourced their artists online. 

  • Artists began to promote and sell their own work on social media channels as galleries were closed due to lockdown. Instagram has become the biggest social media platform to show and sell art. 

It is important to identify who your audience is, consider how they think and what their purchasing behavior is. Here is a breakdown of some of the art consumers:


In the past, collectors would purchase art for its investment value and/or an artist's position in the art market - all of which was determined by the key players mentioned before in the artworld.   Artists and galleries had to prove themselves and their works/artists to key collectors. These collectors are more traditional and often work through art dealers or bigger galleries. 

With the expansion of online art platforms and the trends listed above, a new, younger collector has emerged - the millennial collector who makes decisions regarding art based on investment value as well as social value. These collectors spend more on art than any other age group and tend to make decisions quicker and more decisively than their older counterparts. They tend to have a philanthropic side and use their high visibility status to highlight emerging artists. They are more likely to share their collections digitally.  These collectors' social media consumption is completely different from the older, more traditional collectors. They are easier to access and engage... 

When you draw up your target market, make sure you differentiate between these two groups of collectors as your message and platforms would need to differ depending on which one you are targeting. 

For Larry’s List of millennial collectors, please click here.

 Art Dealers & Galleries

Art Dealers buy and sell art or act as intermediaries between an art buyer and the artist/gallery. They have to know and understand the trends and prices in the artworld and constantly be able to think ahead. Often, art dealers specialise in a particular period or genre, or market segment, for example, Contemporary Art. They tend to position themselves in middle or high-end art. 

Art dealers are constantly looking for rising artists so, in order to engage them, you have to investigate which platforms they are using. 

As art dealers, galleries also work as intermediaries between the buyer and the artist. 

Draw up a list of the galleries and art dealers you wish to target and start the conversation.

World's Top 60 High-End Art Galleries and Art Dealers.

Interior Designers

According to Barney Davey, there are four times as many interior designers as there are galleries in the US. Interior designers may not be collectors and give you the public acknowledgment that your art is considered acceptable but they can be an important part of your target market and ultimately your bottom line. 

Read more on Selling art to interior designers


Buyers' needs are different to those of a collector, an art dealer, or a gallery. They generally buy to fill a space and their needs will be based on size, colour, genre, price, etc.  Their purchase is often a once-off. Since this is such a broad market, it is difficult to have any real data and that’s where your database comes in, please see Using your Database below. 

While it is important to understand who the artworld consists of, it is as important to know who your existing customers, social media audience, and website users are. Often the relevant information is at one’s fingertips, you just need to dig a little deeper. Here are some ways to clarify and identify your key target audiences:

Using your database

The easiest way to understand who your target audience is currently is to analyse and evaluate your current database. Segment the list into specific categories like collectors, art dealers,  buyers, once-off buyers, interior designers, art, institutions, etc. This will make it easier to hone your content to target them with specific content such as an exhibition, information on artists, etc.

Use existing and easily accessible analytics

In today’s world, we have access to lots of data and analytics. And it is useful to analyse the data at hand to use the insights to take your art business to the next level. According to a Forbes article called The Age Of Analytics And The Importance Of Data Quality, 59% of businesses use analytics in some capacity and it is no longer the bigger businesses doing so. It is important to acknowledge the value of analytics and set up systems to interpret and evaluate the data. Analytics can help determine who your current customers or website visitors are, how they behave for instance their purchasing behavior, help identify new trends and improve your understanding of your customer and their habits and therefore your ability to offer great content in their language: 

Here are two, easy ways to get data:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great tool to track the number of visitors to your website, their behavior patterns on your website (ie. where they go, what they read), the time they spend on your website, and how they arrived on your website. Here is a The Beginner's Definitive Guide to Google Analytics. Checking the drop-off figures on Google Analytics can help you assess whether certain pages on your site need improvement or updating. You can check the data daily, monthly, and annually. You can also compare day on day, month on month, and year on year. 

Social Media Analytics

Analysing who your audience is on any social media platform is as easy as clicking a button. You can check how well certain posts performed versus others by looking at how many people saved, shared, viewed, commented, or engaged with a post.  As each social media attracts a slightly different target audience, draw up a persona for each of the platforms.  

Each segment of your target audience needs to be assessed according to these criteria as this will determine the tone you use and the type of content you use (be specific and add as much detail as you possibly can - the more you know about them, the easier it is to seal the deal):





Income bracket


What type of personality do they have (fun, caring, adventurous, etc.)

What do they like to do for fun?

Which social media platforms do they use?

Now that you have drawn up your ideal and existing target market, it is time to woo them with content. Blogging is an effective way to do this. Read our blog How to write the perfect blog for artists and galleries. Good luck!

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