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17.6 million Brits are falling into the ‘intention-action’ gap – how can we save them?

New research from our Ignite consumer report reveals the answers to why people don’t make sustainable decisions, and how to fix it...


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Fresh from our launch event last week, it is our pleasure to give you the big reveal today!

We are proud to share the full ‘Bridging the Gap’ report designed for businesses, consumers and politicians. The report offers ground-breaking research into how we can bridge the ‘intention-action gap’ for consumers and businesses. The report has been developed specifically to make effective and practical recommendations on how to help people act on their original sustainable intentions and boost sustainable consumer and business behaviour. 

The report covers a range of key issues, including the size and prevalence of the gap, why it exists, how we can fix it, and the role technology can play in helping consumers overcome it. 

The size of the gap is staggering! A whopping 17.6million (that’s 1 in 3 adults) Brits are impacted by the ‘intention-action gap’. But that’s not all…

The research also reveals how 64% of British people now regard sustainability as a ‘high priority’ in their lives – this is so encouraging, and just goes to show that the willingness of consumers is there. They are ready for a change, they want to change… but they need our help!

To provide the help and advice needed, the report was constructed by our incredible internal team and draws on nationally representative consumer data. From this approach, we were able to discover the keys to solving the problem. A few of the highlights include guidance on how we need to:

1. Help people understand the costs (financial and ecological) of their consumption

  • Technology can be a great driver to help people understand both the short and long term costs of their consumption.

At the point of purchasing a fast fashion item (for example), consumers could be shown the comparative cost of purchasing a similar sustainable item, and the long term cost of replacing the fast fashion item again and again, both to your pocket and to the planet. With access to each item’s sustainability rating, consumers have valuable information at their fingertips about their carbon footprint.

2. Boost consumer motivation

  • Showing a positive response to an action is a great driver for behaviour change.
  • A huge obstacle for sustainable living is that the individual may never experience the positive response that their action has on the environment. Not eating meat for a week does not have a direct impact on the individual’s experience of climate. However, technology can be a great driver for showing the virtual impact of one’s actions.

3. Enable convenience

  • Convenience is a crucial factor that stops people actually following through on their sustainable intentions. People are often time-poor and have a multitude of other priorities that, in the moment, get in the way. Technology has been proven to be highly effective in reducing friction at the point of action -notably across shopping and financial transactions.


Technology that can be utilised to change these behaviours:

  • Big data
  • Geolocation
  • AI
  • Machine Learning Algorithms
  • Open API
  • Labelling

Commenting on the launch of the ‘Bridging The Gap’ report, our MD, Richard Strachan, said:

“This is not a drill; the world is facing an unprecedented combination of ecological crises. We are not just dealing with global warming on its own – alongside climate change, we are witnessing devastating losses in biodiversity and widespread land degradation across all continents. There is truly no time to waste – we have to act now.

“One of the keys to success in combatting the problem will be enabling, encouraging and empowering people to make more sustainable decisions in their everyday lives. As you will see in this report, it is possible. The majority of people are willing to be greener now, but they need help. Getting from ‘intention’ to ‘action’ can be a bridge too far for many people, and that’s why we have commissioned this report.

“Technological innovation is an awe-inspiring gift that is often underused – we are yet to realise its true potential. We are here to harness this power and make sure it works to improve lives and support positive change.

“To grow this movement for change, we are seeking businesses, organisations and people that are open to working with us to tackle these problems head-on. If you are someone who might fit into one of those categories, make sure you get in touch with us. And we hope you enjoy reading the report as much as we enjoyed creating it!”

The consumer research which underpins the report’s key findings and recommendations reveal the details and the size of the intention-action gap, and an encouraging and intriguing range of British attitudes towards the climate crisis and their motivations for taking action.

Highlights in this area include:

The majority of UK consumers are now motivated to live sustainable lives

  • 64% say sustainability is either a top priority (14%) or a priority (50%)

Consumers care more about sustainability now than five years ago

  • Almost three fifths (59%) claim sustainability is more important to them now than it was then. Broken down by age, this figure increases to 71% among those aged 18 to 24 and 73% of 25 to 34- year-olds.

The intention-action gap exists for at least a third of consumers

  • A third (32%) admit that they set out to make a sustainable decision, and then fail to follow through with it when buying. The gap is especially prevalent among those aged 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 (46% and 47% respectively).
  • The UK adult population is approximately 55,000,000 people – that means closing the gap would deliver a highly significant benefit to the environment as it would impact over 17,600,000 adults in the UK.

To discover more, the full ‘Bridging the Gap’ report is available to download now:


Would you, your company or NGO like to get involved and collaborate with us on the next one?  If so, shout us a holla!

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Published on October 22, 2021, last updated on October 22, 2021

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