Survey reveals consumer buying behavior: the Art Publisher’s Association recently conducted a consumer survey of poster and home decor buyers. A variety of trends emerged

Survey reveals consumer buying behavior: the Art Publisher’s Association recently conducted a consumer survey of poster and home decor buyers. A variety of trends emerged – Statistical Data Included

SPECIAL REPORT–The Art Publishers Association (APA) recently conducted its second quantitative research survey to understand the profile, spending levels, purchasing patterns, drives and motivations for consumers who buy home decor items such as a framed pictures, posters, art prints, mirrors, wall hangings and more. A total of 1,003 households were surveyed by telephone in August. A variety of trends emerged.

Major Finings

The survey found that the total number of households that bought an item designed to be hung on the wall for display was 529, or 53 percent of the total survey sample.

The survey also found that while households of all age ranges buy wall decor, the highest level of purchasing incidence is found among the 18-to 24-year-old set. Additionally, the survey found that slightly more women heads of households report buying wall decor in the past year than men, and that white households participate in purchasing more widely than do black households.

Perhaps not suprisingly, the highest purchasing incidence is found in households with incomes above the $50,000 level. Those who live in a multi-person household, especially those with children under the age of 18 years, are also more likely to buy wall decor-related items.

According to the survey, the top three most-purchased wall decor items are unframed pictures, art prints and/ or posters; pre-framed art prints and/or posters; and photographs.

The typical amount spent on these wall decor items over the past year is between $100 and $400. The households spending at the higher levels are those comprised of buyers aged 25 to 44 years living in metro areas of the country.

According to the findings, 44 percent of U. S. households have purchased art (pictures, art prints, posters, or original works of art) in the past 12 months. This number is consistent with previous research conducted in 2000, when the same percentage of households were buying art.

Among the 44 percent of households who bought art in the past 12 months, 29 percent bought unframed pieces; 25 percent bought pre-framed pieces; 12 percent bought custom-framed pieces; and 14 percent bought original works of art.

This year, discount stores overtook art galleries as the top source for decorative art. One-third of the households who bought pictures, art prints, posters, and/or original works of art turned to discount stores for their purchasing needs. According to the survey, the top motivators for buying a piece is to meet decorating needs and liking the picture.

As for the future, 42 percent of households report they are at least somewhat likely to purchase art work in the next year. Younger consumers, especially those in the 18-to-24-year age range, are the most likely to make a purchase. The 55 years and over buyers are the least likely to acquire any pieces of art in the coming year. These consumers report their houses are already decorated, and they’ve run out of wall space.

Characteristics of the Wall Decor Buyer

According to the survey, the typical wall decor-buying household is younger, Caucasian and tends to be female. The prime age range for households buying wall decor ranges from 18 to 64 years old, with the highest level of participation among the households ages 18 to 24. Just under two-thirds of total households in this age range are involved in buying wall decor.

Regionally, the South, Northeast and Western states have a higher concentration of buyers (57 percent, 52 percent and 52 percent respectively) than the North-Central states (48 percent).

The typical wall decor-buying household is in the mid- or upper-income range and is composed of three or more individuals who have children under 18 in the home. About two-thirds of the highest income households making $50,000 or more are involved in purchasing wall decor. This incidence is statistically significant when compared with those in the lowest income levels of less than $15,000 or $15,000 to $25,000, where purchasing incidence is 40 percent and 51 percent respectively.

Living in a multi-person households, especially those containing children under the age of 18 years, is positively correlated with buying wall decor-related items. Only 47 percent of single-person households bought in the past year, compared to 49 percent of the two-person households and 59 percent of three-person or more households. Further, a statistically significant 61 percent of households with children are involved in buying wall decor, compared with a lower 48 percent of the households without children.

What Do Wall Decor Buyers Purchase?

Wall decor buyers were asked what type of wall decor item was purchased in the past year. Items include art pictures, art prints and/or posters that were unframed or framed using a ready-made frame; picture, art print and/or poster that was preframed; original works of art; custom-framed picture, art print and/or poster; photographs; shelves or shelving unit; crafted item for display, such as a basket, floral arrangement, needlepoint, etc.; mirrors; tapestries; and sconces.

In some cases, different types of buyers are drawn to purchase different types of wall decor. Some of the demographic differences noted among the types of buyers are as follows:

Picture framed by self using a ready-made frame: More households in a non-metro region than those in a metro region made this type of purchase in the past year.

Original Work of Art: Purchase incidence of an original is positively correlated with higher income and education levels.

Picture custom-framed by a professional: Buyers 45 to 54 years of age have a higher incidence of purchasing in this category than their younger counterparts. Those in single-person households without children and those with the highest income and education levels are significantly more prone to purchase art and have it custom framed by a professional.

Spending on Wall Decor in Past Year

In the past 12 months, 53 percent of American households have purchased an item designed to be hung or displayed on a wall. The typical amount spent in total on these wall decor items over the past year is between $100 and $400. The households with the highest spending levels are those comprised of buyers aged 25 to 44 years living in metro areas of the country. This tends to be the age when consumers have more discretionary dollars to spend and are likely to be interested in decorating their homes or offices.

Purchasing Sources for Buyers

In some cases, buyers are drawn to varying purchasing sources. Buyers in non-metro areas have purchased art in discount stores significantly more than those in metro areas (43 percent vs. 30 percent). The youngest buyers also report higher purchase incidence at discount stores. Those with lower household incomes and education levels show a significantly higher rate of purchase at stores such as Wal-Mart and Kmart.

The younger art buyers show notably more purchasing from home products stores than those 35 years and older. This source is also popular among residents in the North Central portion of the U.S.

Purchasing through art galleries is positively correlated with higher household incomes and higher education levels, while middle-income households are more likely to use gift or card shops as a purchasing source.

As with purchasing from art galleries, buying from the artist and from art shows or festivals are positively correlated with higher income and educational levels.

The youngest age group (18 to 24 years) has significantly higher purchase incidence at department stores than all other age brackets. Furniture stores also appeal most to the youngest age group.

Households in the highest income bracket of $50,000 or more use custom-framing shops as a source for art purchases more so than their middle-income counterparts.

Art buyers in the Northeast utilize poster stores significantly more than those in the North Central and Southern regions of the country (16 percent vs. 5 percent and 7 percent, respectively).

Higher education levels are positively correlated with purchasing artwork through live auctions.

Households containing 45- to 54-year olds, as well as those with higher education levels, show a higher purchasing incidence at museum stores for their art needs.

Future Buying Purchases

According to the survey, some 44 percent of consumers who are likely to buy artwork in the next year predict that decorating–either redecorating their existing home or decorating a new home–will be the main driver for art purchases in the coming year. Some 29 percent of those surveyed state the main reason for their likely art purchase will be as a component of their home redecorating. Decorating a new home will motivate some 15 percent of potential customers. The main reason for not buying art in the next year, according to the survey, is that the house is already decorated.


Based on its findings, the APA believes there is significant opportunity to reach the younger, more active buyers who are the most likely to buy art in the next 12 months. These consumers have new residences to decorate. Understanding the younger marketplace will help in determining what artwork should depict in order to capture the eye of this buying demographic group.

Publishers should give retailers ideas for display or advertise in magazines that appeal to the buying demographic.

Galleries should offer items at differing price points. Everyone wants to be surrounded by nice things, no matter what their income level. Offer a full range of artwork, from less expensive posters for those just starting out to more expensive original works of art that complement an older buyer’s existing collection of art.

Artwork needs to be available in a wide variety of sources as well. Product needs to be everywhere consumers are.

Finally, give consumers “permission” to change the pictures on their wall. Consumers need an “excuse” or “justifier” to spend money on their homes. One of consumers’ favorite justifiers for home decorating purchases is that a particular item has worn-out and needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, few consumers find that the pictures that are hanging on the wall get worn out. The art industry will stand to benefit by giving consumers permission to change the pictures on their wall. Consumers need to understand that changing the wall decor is an integral part of redecorating their home. Art for the wall can change over time as consumers decorating tastes change.

Home Decor Art Purchases

44% of households purchased home decor art in the past year.

Number of pieces Amount spent


OF % of households

ART that purchased median average median average

Any picture

print or poster 44%

Unframed 29% 3 10 $24 $56

Pre-framed 26% 3 7 $50 $83

Custom-framed 12% 2 9 $100 $200

Original works 14% 1 2 $100 $300

The 2001 APA Consumer Market Survey was made possible through the donations of several members of the industry, including Art Business News, Artexpo, Larson-Juhl, Crescent, Tru Vue, Intercontinental, Franchise Concepts, PFM, AFC, Bright Cube, Prints Plus, Wild Apple Graphics, Mystic Art Group, Gango Editions, Bentley Publishing Group, Art Expressions, DECOR, New York Graphics Society, Canadian Art Prints, Top Art, Art Affairs, Toh Atin, AD Lines, Art in Motion, Joan Cawley Gallery, Classic Collection, Image Conscious. Things Graphic, Lieberman’s, Bruce McGaw, Winn Devon and Grand Image.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Advanstar Communications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group