How Many People Have Tattoos in 2023? A Small Business Perspective

As a consultant helping entrepreneurs start, run, and grow small businesses, I‘ve worked with numerous up-and-coming tattoo shop owners over the years. Given the incredible growth in the tattoo industry, many see it as an appealing business opportunity. However, the actual data shows it takes more than just an artistic vision to succeed long-term in this competitive space.

Huge Industry Growth But High Risks Too

Tattoos have exploded in popularity over the past decade. An estimated 225 million people globally now have at least one tattoo, up from just 21% of young Americans having one in 2019. Driven heavily by celebrity and social media influence, over 40% of young people today have tattoos.

However, many hopeful artists jump into owning shops without realizing how tightly regulated the industry is. For example, California legally limits the annual number of tattoo licenses available. I‘ve seen talented artists fail because they didn‘t account for these policy restrictions when drafting business plans.

"We put our life savings into this shop. But the intense competition and pile of paperwork burned through our budget fast. I wish we better understood the business side beforehand."

  • Sarah, tattoo shop owner

While the potential market size is massive, actually capturing those customers remains an immense challenge. You‘re not just competing against other parlors, but against people‘s budgets and negative perceptions too.

Who Actually Has Tattoos in 2023?

Now that we‘ve covered the market landscape, let‘s analyze the data…

Demographic % With Tattoos
American Women 38%
American Millennials 62%
American Gen Xers 38%
Black Americans 39%
All Americans 32%
Geographic Area % With Tattoos
European Union 14%
United States 46%
Italy 48%
Sweden 47%

This table highlights how specific segments like Millennial women offer major tattoo business opportunities if targeted correctly.

However, realize that demographics don‘t dictate destiny. I‘ve seen shops in hip Brooklyn struggle while ones in suburbs thrive. Your ability to actively reach customers matters more than indexes.

Marketing Tips from Real Owners

"Don‘t just open the doors and expect a line out front. Tattoos are permanent – you have to work hard to earn trust."

  • Jen, tattoo business owner for 5 years

Jen explains an common misperception – that this industry runs itself. Between regulations, taxes, insurance, and more, she spends just as much time managing operations as drawing.

Here are some of the key marketing tips we discussed in a recent consulting session:

  • Social media matters – Instagram and TikTok are where you establish credibility with amazing designs and client testimonials.
  • SEO optimizes online discovery – Someone searching "custom flower tattoo artists near me" should find YOU first.
  • Podcast interviews build expertise – Host at least quarterly podcasts as the guest expert to discuss industry trends.
  • Partner with local businesses – Cross-promoting related brands like salons makes everyone‘s marketing cheaper and more effective.

Conclusion: Tattoo Popularity Rising But Far From Easy Money

As you can see from the research and real-world experiences shared, entering the booming tattoo industry takes more than just artistic talent if you want to build a thriving, sustainable small business. But with dedication to mastering marketing, operations, and sound financial planning, massive opportunities exist to tap into the growing mainstream acceptance of tattoos worldwide.

I enjoy guiding motivated entrepreneurs like you turn dreams into reality (and profits too). Please reach out if you need any help getting your own tattoo shop off the ground correctly. Here‘s to your future success!