Target Market: Gen Y

This article first appeared in The Arts Business Institute blog.

Selling art and fine craft to the Millenial Generation.


young people


The so-called “First Wave Millennials” are now between 18 and 29 years old, and represent about 25% of the US population. Almost the same size as the Baby Boomer generation of their parents, they make up a huge part of the buying public. Their purchasing power is estimated at more than $200 billion, and they influence as much as half the spending in our economy today.

Perhaps you are a Millennial yourself – or you may make products which appeal to them. If you sell to Millennials, you might reach out to them on Facebook or on their mobile device. They are connected – to each other, and by word-of-mouth, which gives them the information they need. Gimmicks don’t lead to sales with this group. They value authenticity, and can quickly search online, which makes them very informed consumers.

What makes Millenials tick? They are, above all, tech-savvy. Most grew up with computers and cell phones, and many sleep with their phones next to them. Selling to Millennials through email strikes many of them as spam. Social media is the preferred method, because many have deleted their email accounts or pick up their email infrequently.

This generation loves to receive coupons, and will sign up for text messages about sales or events going on at their favorite retailers. QR codes are becoming prevalent, and should be used to reach this generation, whether on business cards, signage, posters or packaging. And, make sure your website is mobile-friendly, as usage is skyrocketing.

This is a generation with buying power, but not the kind of ready cash that generally allows them to make high-end purchases. A visit to a gallery is a way to put their toe in the water and learn, and find out what turns them on in the art world. They have had ample opportunity to look at art online to find what they like, because the internet is like the biggest art show in the world. And they are willing to buy art online, which their parents generally would not do.

Gen Y needs to start off small. Making purchases of prints, less expensive sculpture, or mid-range handcrafted jewelry is a way to become involved. The magic words “You can make payments on this” helps them get started looking into more expensive, investment-grade art.

They love recycled and upcycled, sustainable products, vintage and off-beat items. They appreciate the meaning of “buy local” and want to support their communities.  Art and craft work that has a meaningful social cause connected to it also appeals to this group. Millenials are highly influenced by their friends, so if you get traction with customers of this generation, add them to your social network and stay in touch!


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  1. The Millennials’ tech-savvy nature makes them comfortable with and unbiased toward digital art; which is why they’re such a big chunk of my customer base.

    Social media marketing is an absolute requirement for reaching these babies of baby-boomers (and babies of baby-boomers’ babies). That’s why the social sites receive my attention throughout the day . . . and night.

    It’s a brave, new world; I’m inspired to keep pace.

  2. This is a great summary of this group of people which really humanises them and makes it easier to picture who you are selling too {all too often its easy to generalise people into an amorphous lump when thinking about your market}

    Nice article

    • Thanks, Helen. The world (and the art world) is in such transition now, that different generations seem to be going different directions. Gen Y is a great market, who need a little different approach. I’m thrilled to see so many artists using social media and innovative marketing techniques – in fact, I think artists are leading the internet!

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