It once again stands clear that the key to success for the industry is to understand the consumer, says Pontus Silfverstolpe, co-founder of Barnebys.

The findings have emerged in a wide-ranging study of online behavior conducted by global search engine Barnebys, which acts as a portal for more than 2 000 auction houses across the world, as well as for dealers.

Titled ‘Tomorrow –The View from Today’, the report mines data from over 65 million lots sold at auction as well as almost 16.4 million user sessions relating to nearly 5 million items coming up for sale.

Summary of principal findings:

  • Watches and jewelry are two of the fastest growing categories when the auction market take over from peer-to-peer platforms. The single brand most in demand is Rolex.
  • The importance of brand trust gives the auction industry a major advantage over peer-to-peer platforms.
  • Over 45s dominate the global auction market and are migrating to mobile.
  • Decluttering and Downsizing has taken over from Death, Divorce, and Disaster as the most common ‘D’s for consigning to auction when a new generation of client buys and sells more often.
  • Consignors most frequently find auction houses through online searches
  • Market grows and buyers are committing to higher spending levels, with a spike in sales between €1000 and €5000.
  • At the same time, sales under €100 have grown strongly as the market offer diversifies to include more consumer goods, furnishings, etc, while attracting new target groups, including younger buyers.
  • It's important to follow this group of buyers, to see where they are heading, what trends are being created and what categories they are interested in. It's in the lower segments, where many of the most loan-conscious customers for the auctions houses are available, says Pontus Silfverstolpe.

    The United States - Luxury brands lead the way in this mega-market

    Findings for the United States show that while the overall user base in the US has grown, it has begun to age slightly, with the proportion of those using the site under the age of 35 falling as older users take over. This is good news for auction houses and dealers using the site to nd customers as it tends to give them access to an increasingly wealthy audience.

    The typical user of Barnebys’ US website is likely to be male and over the age of 45. They tend to be focused on entertainment and shopping, with a strong bias towards TV and film and are technophiles. This means that when it comes to bidding online they are most interested in luxury brands, particularly watches, art glass and contemporary art.

    An interesting mix of most commonly used search terms on the US site illustrates the variety of its reach, from art and antiques to luxury watches, cars, fine and contemporary art: - Rolex, Piaget, Lalique, wine glass, Bratby, Koons, Coin, Ferrari, Chopard and Gouache all feature among the top 20.

    Do you want to know more about the US user behavior, alongside what the international buyer base looks like? Read the full Barnebys report here!