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Surfers at 60: GrownUps on the Web

Surfers at 60: GrownUps on the Web

Move over generations x, y and millenniums. You have a new challenger on the web. Instead of 17 or 27, they’ll be 60 – and instead of looking at YouTube or MySpace, they’ll make their homepage

GrownUps is a free to use, unique, New Zealand-developed site, created by Shane Bradley (developer of, which recently sold a 50% stake to APN) and marketer Richard Poole. It is a lifestyle portal for information and offers focused on products and services for those retired or nearing retirement. In the fifth month of its operation, GrownUps will hit 20,000 unique visitors and this is growing exponentially.

GrownUps is the first site in New Zealand to recognise that seniors, and those nearing retirement, are avid web users, say the site’s founders.

“Seniors are flexing their internet muscles like never before,” says Richard Poole. “Thirty thousand people 55 plus belong to Seniornet, and thousands more are computer literate. This year, 40,000 of the first baby boomers in New Zealand hit sixty. As the baby boomer generation moves through to retirement, computer literacy is exploding. They want and seek information on the net, and this site is positioned to give it to them.”

GrownUps’ more unusual features are dedicated to the age group. Features include:

Job (and product) advertising expressly for seniors. In 2001, the census showed 17% of people 65 to 74 were in paid employment – and that had more than doubled since 1991. The number continues to grow rapidly.

A calendar, that sends email reminders free to users to tell them their Warrant of Fitness is due, or pills need taking. Currently, this is one of the most popular features of the site.

A state benefits adviser who answers emails from members on their entitlements.

Free weather from New Zealand’s Met Service (Also highly utilised)

Very popular free daily games and competitions (like Sudoku and crosswords)

Mr Poole says that before going live with the site, the developers tested it with Seniornet. Their market testing proved worthwhile. Typesize and layout was changed, so that seniors could easily view it. Navigation was also changed, so that when a user changes pages on the site, “there’s a breadcrumb trail to follow back, so they never get lost,” says Richard.

The spending power, vitality and internet savvy of senior users has not been lost on corporates and marketers either. Home equity release company Sentinel teamed up with GrownUps early on, taking a 20% stake in the company and joining the board.

“New Zealand was missing a lifestyle internet site, where those retired or nearing retirement could find comprehensive resources for their needs,” says Richard Coon, managing director of Sentinel. “It’s an independent portal that’s credible and trustworthy. It’s well targeted.”

Contributors to the site include: Food in a Minute, New Zealand Beef and Lamb,; House of Travel, First New Zealand Capital, Garden NZ and Chapman Tripp.

Ad agencies have been awakened to the baby boom and retirement generation by some staggering statistics, says Richard Poole.

Those 50 plus account for 45% of all travel, 60% of new car sales, half of all face care products and mineral water sales, 55% of coffee sales, 25% of toy purchases, and 40% of yoghurt and dairy sales,”# he says. “The baby boomers are currently a snoozing giant for marketers. Ad agencies are quietly waking them up. Within 15 years, those 50 plus will account for 80% of individual net worth and 70% of disposable income in New Zealand.”


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