45up: The Age of Empowerment

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes” renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright once remarked. Growing older yet feeling younger, age is becoming just a number. With each passing year, people are showing no signs of winding down. In fact, they’re winding up — starting new businesses, (re)discovering their passions, and indulging their thirst for wanderlust.

This sentiment certainly holds true for more than 95 million people1 ages 45 and over in France, Italy and the UK. Representing 48% of the total population yet accounting for 82% of the financial wealth,2 this group feels wealthier and more self-assured now than at any other time in their lives.

To explore how technology is empowering people ages 45-70 (“45up“) to live life on their own terms, Facebook IQ embarked on a multiphased research study. We commissioned insight and brand strategy experts Sparkler to survey 2,554 people ages 45-70 in France, Italy and the UK on their attitudes to aging. So we could gauge any nuances between generations, 452 Millennials ages 18-34 and 464 Gen Xers ages 35-44 were also surveyed. And to further bring this study to life, Sparkler interviewed nine people across the three markets.

We learned that today’s 45up are not only more connected but they have increased confidence and satisfaction with their lives, more time to pursue their goals and passions and fewer worries about money.

For 45up, this is the dawning of the Age of Empowerment.


Over the coming weeks, Facebook IQ will explore how 45up are challenging popular perceptions of aging. In this first in a series of blog posts, we delve into some of the major forces at play in the lives of those we observed across France, Italy and the UK. And what we found will surprise you.



Age_of_Empowerment-05‘Rewirement,’ not retirement

Retirement is no longer a time for slowing down … or letting up. Although many may feel they can’t afford to retire, on average 61% of people across the three markets are still passionate and excited about their careers and see no reason to stop. With more time and money to play with, 3 in 5 feel empowered to pursue their goals and passion projects. Quite simply, they’re rewiring and (re)firing on all cylinders and still have stacks of ambitions left to fulfill, whether it’s through entrepreneurship, wanderlust or lifelong learning.

Added value

In the Age of Empowerment, the emphasis starts to shift away from saving to spending. And technology is the catalyst — 89% use technology to help manage their finances and spend their money in new ways. Three quarters of 45up find it much easier to book travel these days — an adventure holiday is now only a click away!


Unlike their parents’ generation, they believe in using their money for fun, enjoyment and new experiences. Half of 45up say they want to spend their money now while they can enjoy it. And while three quarters agree they can afford better or higher quality items these days, they still like to feel they are getting a good deal — 54% agree they buy brands that offer good value for money.3

Caught in the muddle: The sandwich generation

It is clear that the overwhelming majority (71%) of 45up don’t feel stressed in their day-to-day lives, but this is not the case for everyone in the Age of Empowerment. This group is by no means homogenous — the older Gen Xers are feeling both the financial squeeze and emotional pressure of being simultaneously sandwiched between caring for aging parents and dependent children. Compared to Boomers, they are 1.31X more stressed about money and 2.10X more worried about their children.



Never mind the (generation) gap

As kids leave (or boomerang) home at a later age, we are witnessing a blurring of boundaries across generations. 45up are a greater influence on (and take influence from) those younger in age. And while there may be distinct differences between generations — Millennials are 3.4X more stressed about their living situation, for instance — when it comes to their love of technology, 45up are on par with Millennials.



Age_of_Empowerment-06(Pro)active aging

With 79% of 45up eating well and exercising regularly, it is no wonder they are feeling healthy (67%). 1 in 5 already track or plan to track their fitness through apps or devices, but for them, it is not just about being sound of body. Being sound of mind is just as important. Taking a holistic and proactive approach to their health by powering up with smart technology enables them to remain active mentally, physically and socially.

What it means for marketers

Take age out of the equation: 45up are not defined by their age. They have goals and ambitions left to fulfill just like everyone else. Boosted by the four elements of empowerment — confidence+satisfaction+time+money — they are living life to the max. Brands should reflect the optimism and aspirations of 45up by tailoring communications to the mindset rather than the age group. Inclusive, inspirational and visual storytelling that transcends age will resonate best with 45up for whom “age” has no meaning — it’s the attitude that counts.

Don’t you forget about me: Despite growing in numbers and wealth, 45up have in the past been largely ignored by marketers. The notion that they spend little, resist change and are clueless about technology simply does not hold true. This group already spends twice as long on the internet now than they did in 2007.3 With the time, money and inclination to focus on themselves, brands should seek to indulge this by giving them permission to do “exactly what they want.”

The best is yet to come: As 45up tick off experiences and aspirations from their “bucket list,” marketers should seize the opportunity to fuel discovery within this space. By tapping into the positive mindset and joie de vivre of those living in the Age of Empowerment, brands can bring to life how readily accessible life-long dreams may be.


1 Population on 1 January by five years age group and sex by Eurostat, Jan 2015.
2 Mean net wealth by household for FR, IT and UK by OECD, 2010-2013.
3 GfK Consumer Life (online study of 1,500 people ages 45-69 in FR, IT and UK), Apr 2007 and Jun 2015.
Source unless otherwise specified: “The Age of Empowerment” by Sparkler (Facebook-commissioned study of 452 people ages 18-34, 464 people ages 35-44 and 2,554 people ages 45-70 with a HHI of £25,000 in UK and €30,000 in FR and IT and ethnographies of nine people ages 45-70 (three in FR, two in IT and four in UK)), Mar-Apr 2016. Unless otherwise noted, data is on average across the three markets.