Tattoos and body art in the U.S. have soared in popularity lately, especially among Millennials, fueling an industry comprised of 20,000 tattoo parlors or studios. The industry, which also includes body piercing and tattoo removal, is estimated to be worth $3 billion, and is growing strongly.
The boom in “body art” is due in part to a more professional generation of trained artists doing better work. But artists note that in the past 3-4 years, their clients have included a growing number of middle-age suburbanites. A lot of tattoo artists also attribute the increase to more exposure via reality TV tattoo shows such as LA Ink, Ink Master and Best Ink.
Today, over one-third of 25-29 year-olds have at least one tattoo, and artists and polls alike demonstrate that women comprise half of those who get tattoos.
Top 7 Things to Know About the Tattoo Industry
1. Tattoo Industry Statistics
Marketdata estimates that revenues of the 20,000 or so tattoo parlors will reach $1.35 billion, and body piercing, another service frequently offered by tattoo shops, will bring in another $966 million. Add the burgeoning $694 million tattoo removal market to this and there is a combined market or industry worth $3 billion (versus $1.6 billion In 2007).
2. Tattoo Industry Growth
The total market is estimated to have grown by 9.5% in 2014 and the same rate was forecast for 2015. However, over the next five years, Marketdata analysts think that the tattoo removal market will grow 18% per year, vs. 10% for tattoo parlors.
3. Tattoo Business Revenues and Average Earnings
Average revenues per tattoo studio are estimated at $241,000, and the typical tattoo artist earns $50,000/year. In large metro areas, shops with 5 or 6 artists renting space, it’s not unusual for a studio to generate $500,000 or more per year in receipts.
4. The Tattoo Removal Industry
The tattoo removal market is growing strongly, with 110,000 procedures performed by dermatologic surgeons last year. This figure soared by 52% in 2013. Average cost runs about $1,400, over 7 sessions. Laser equipment technology is improving, and the cost will no doubt come down as new and better machines enter the market. Average start-up costs are higher than a tattoo parlor — about $50,000-$175,000. Tattoo removal is most often performed by medical spas and dermatologists and other MDs.
5. Tattoo Parlors & Regulations
This is a fragmented local market. More municipalities are approving them as they become more mainstream and take their place alongside coffee shops and other retailers, rather than in the seedy part of town.
6. Tattoo Parlor Startup Costs
The business is easy to enter and can be lucrative. One can get started for about $27,000. After a few years of establishing their clientele and honing their craft, most tattoo artists earn $50,000/year and shops have an average profit margin of 55% after expenses.
7. Body Piercing Statistics
Body piercing is frequently performed in tattoo parlors, contributing about 25-30% of total revenues. This is an estimated $966 million market that’s growing about 5% per year. Zales, via its Piercing Pagoda shopping mall kiosks, generated $240 million in revenues in 2013.
About the Author: John LaRosa is the President of Marketdata LLC and is the author of 100+ industry and market studies. His research appears in top media outlets including ABC, CNN, Fox, Forbes, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and a variety of trade journals.