I, like many people, have never been one to pay any mind to the idea that women and men are two completely different creatures wandering this earth with completely opposite motivations that are nigh impossible for the other to comprehend. It seems to me like basic motivations are survive and then thrive. I see men who want that and I see women who want that. With that said, it is possible that maybe sometimes men and women are kind of different in the things they do. Sometimes. Maybe. At least in the context of what I am about to tell you since marketing scholars at Michigan State University put a lot of time and effort into researching and observing these findings. What these researchers have uncovered is that when it comes to art appreciation women tend to be more drawn to the specific piece of art while men are more focused on the background and “brand” of the artist. That’s right – men are art appreciation hipsters.
The journal Psychology & Marketing published the study this fall, and it is the first study to really investigate the effect of an artist’s “brand” on average consumers as they appraise individual works. The study shows that an artist’s personal brand is incredibly important, and the results of this study may have incredible effects on the $64 billion art market as well as the food and fashion industries – also big in the “brand” game.
Stephanie Mangus, assistant professor in MSU’s Broad College of Business, and fellow researchers had 518 people look at two unfamiliar paintings with fabricated artist biographies. Some biographies used the buzzword “authentic” – ie the artist is a lifelong painter who always creates unique art, while other biographies described the artist as someone who had recently taken up the craft of painting. All participants had a more favorable impression of the artists described as authentic and indicated that they would be willing to pay more money for the piece. When evaluating art, men especially were more likely to use the artist’s brand to make a final decision. For women, authenticity was a measurable factor affecting their view of an artist’s work, but the art itself was the biggest factor influencing their desire to purchase. According to Mangus, “Women are more willing to go through a complicated process of actually evaluating the artwork, whereas men may say, ‘This guy’s a great artist, so I’ll buy his art.’”
Mangus stated that, overall, “all consumers in the study, but especially men, evaluated art with a strong emphasis on how motivated and passionate the artist was” and then added, “so if you’re an artist or if you’re managing an artist, developing that human brand – getting the message across that you’re authentic – becomes essential.” With the art market steadily increasing over the last decade, it is important for artists, critics, managers, and gallery owners to be aware of how people look at and shop for art. For a consumer, knowing an artist’s story can help to build a relationship with the piece while also fostering knowledge that the piece is valuable. Further, recognizing that artist brand is an important factor to half of your buyers is a sure-fire way to not only increase sales, but to really get people talking about art.