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Countless people analyzing the auction industry have stated quite affirmatively that the live auction audience “continues to age.”

In other words, we were seeing 30- and 40-year olds at our auctions in the 1980’s, and now we’re seeing primarily 60- and 70-year olds?

I find these conclusions flawed.

People who regularly attend live auctions have three distinct characteristics, of which none are specifically age:

  • Sufficient interest
  • Sufficient time
  • Sufficient money

Sufficient interest: Those who attend live auctions are often looking for the “odd” or “unusual” find, and/or looking for a potential deal on an item they would otherwise have to pay retail for. There are those as young as 20 who have this interest, and some as old as 90 who have this interest — not something that appears to be age-dependent in any way.

Sufficient time: Those who attend live auctions are often a bit older, which allows them the time to attend. These people own their own businesses, and can come and go on their own schedule, and/or are retired and have more free time. This appears to be something that has been largely unchanged since the modern live auction industry began in the 1950’s.

Sufficient money: Those who attend live auctions are often of an age where they have more disposable income. On the average, people consider auction buying more of a luxury rather than a necessity; as people age, they find they have more income after expenses to use to purchase at auction. This would suggest the average age of live auction attendees has always been largely the same the past 60 years.

A possible reason that auctioneers are saying that their crowds are aging — is they are aging as well. As people age, they tend to interact and/or notice — talk with — people their own age. So maybe as an auctioneer ages, he or she tends to notice the like-aged people in attendance at the auction?

I suppose to be fair, maybe auction attendees prefer auctioneers of about the same age? Many studies suggest we all prefer to do business with, socialize, and/or otherwise interact with people of about the same age as us. If this is true, then auction audiences would be aging as the auctioneer aged — but younger auctioneers would have younger crowds …?

Are auction audiences aging? I think they are about the same age that they’ve always been.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.