Ever the art enthusiast, OnBuy explored a new report by Hiscox.

Taking time to analyse the condition of the online art market in 2018, the impact of social media and key challenges faced by the industry.

The online art market has grown 20-25% in the last few years, but the last 24 months show signs of a slowdown, perhaps as the industry struggles to acclimatise to an online world.

Certainly, the transition between offline and online is proving a challenge in the art world. While parts of the industry, such as auction houses have swiftly adapted to a new digital era, other areas such as galleries and dealers are still getting to grips with the change.

With several bottlenecks that still need to be effectively addressed, it is estimated the online art market will grow at an average rate of 15% per year. This is down from an estimated 19.5% in 2017 and far slower than the 25% growth experienced in other online luxury markets such as branded jewellery.


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"Buying art continues to be hugely enjoyable and exciting… and the continued influence of social media, especially Instagram, helps fuel the growth of the market."

A new report by Hiscox titled, 'Online Art Trade Report 2018'

Social Media Trends

In January 2018, Instagram had 800 million monthly active users (up 11% from January 2017) and is predicted to break through the 1 billion active users’ barrier by the end of 2018.

Recently, 63% of respondents chose Instagram as their preferred channel for art-related purposes (up from 57% in 2017 and 48% in 2016); proving the platform to be the art world’s favourite social media platform.

Subsequently, the prominence of Facebook has diminished, with just 38% of respondents citing it as their preferred social media platform (down from 49% in 2017.)

Social media

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Why Instagram?

The visual nature and simplicity of Instagram is ideally suited to the art world, which, combined with its mobile functionality, makes it the ideal app for creativity on the move.

Bite Size Facts

Key Challenges

Today, more than half (59%) of online platforms admit the greatest challenge in the online art market is building consumer trust.

Below are three key reasons why building trust is a challenge, and some of the trends and developments taking place to address this.

1. Price Transparency

89% of art buyers say price transparency is a key criterion when buying art and paintings online. If the online art market is to grow further, this issue needs to be addressed.

More sophisticated price and object comparison tools need to be made available to online consumers during the search and discovery process. The advent of big data combined with artificial intelligence could present the solution, in understanding and measuring the value of an art object.


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2. Quality

94% of art buyers say the quality of art on offer is essential when buying online. The challenge of the future will be to maintain quality as the online art market continues to grow. The responsibility of online platforms to monitor and to ensure that authenticity, provenance and condition are accurate, will prove critical in building trust and credibility with new and existing buyers.

Indeed, new tools for tracking and identifying fakes and copyright infringements, as well as innovation based on blockchain and new technology around tagging and identification of artworks, could become key catalysts in safeguarding the online art market.

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3. Fulfilment

37% of art buyers say that the cost and complications around shipping and logistics are the main challenges when buying art online (up from 33% in 2017.)

With companies like Amazon Prime pushing logistics and fulfilment to a new level, the expectations (and impatience) of online consumers is growing rapidly. It is therefore imperative the market doesn’t fall behind. Art logistics is a highly specialised service and it will need to find a way to meet the potential growth (and heightened expectations) of the online art buyer.

Pleasingly, there are already new tech businesses, such as ArtRunners, aimed at aggregating the fragmented landscape of art shipping and logistics providers; a clear sign the art world is moving in the right direction.


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