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Older surfers spend more

In 1998, during the Internet’s Christmas shopping boom, one consulting company found that online consumers between the ages of fifty and fifty-four spent, on average, around $US626, while online consumers under the age of twenty-five spent an average of a mere $210.

Other Internet market researchers found the fifty-five plus age bracket had high levels of computer literacy and were regularly using the net to send email, shop and keep in touch with families – including sending digital photos.

Favourite seniors’ shopping items were computer software, books, computer hardware, music CDs and clothing, which did not differ greatly from choices made by other age groups.

The Australian Internet consulting group, www.consult.com.au, said: “In particular, travel sites and search engines with free mail sites are visited heavily by older users.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in May 1999 that ten per cent of persons aged over fifty-five now use the Internet.

This means that there are 400,000 people over the age of fifty-five who now surf and use Internet communications technology.

Trying to harness the senior market, as well as educate and provide e-services, is Online Australia, which recently ran an electronic forum for the older Aussie.

Seniors Online Day was established in order to teach seniors how to conduct online banking, pay bills, access information on senior citizen issues, travel, health and recreation. It also taught people how to chat online.

Seniors Online Day ran on 7 of September and saw approximately 160,000 visitors as part of a launch for the www.onlineseniors.net.au website. This targeted web interface acts as a portal for other seniors’ interest sites.

The site still provides twenty-four hour tutorial access for beginners, takes feedback from visitors, allowing them to submit articles and chat and runs competitions with prizes such as holidays.

The site promotes seniors’ events, issues and services, with promotional material claiming: “www.onlineseniors.net.au is a year-round resource for seniors by seniors.”

The site is sponsored by companies including Qantas and St George and is currently using pictures of Olympic swimmer Dawn Fraser in promotion.

The site also provides an opportunity for e-tailers to showcase their services and wares to this market sector.

Yes, grandma is surfing and she’s very tidy indeed.

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