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WTF is De-Influencing?

De-influencing, the practice of criticizing influencer recommendations and encouraging consumers to think twice before buying a product, is a growing trend among younger generations. With the rise of videos on TikTok criticizing influencers and urging users to carefully consider their purchases, the days of influencers telling us what to buy, wear, watch, and follow may be coming to an end. While a 2020 study showed that over a quarter of the general population has made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation, followers are becoming increasingly aware of influencers’ marketing strategies and are taking steps to no longer be duped.

The de-influencing trend has even given rise to the term “de-influence,” which is being used by content creators to help other users not fall for a scam or even an over-hyped product that just doesn’t live up to the attention. TikToker Michelleskildelsky is one such creator who has been critical of the useless products that influencers recommend acquiring, such as 25 different perfumes and Ugg slippers. Some creators even make a project out of buying products recommended by influencers and setting out to critique them and deconstruct their lack of utility.

For brand collaboration coach and content creator Kahlea Nicole Wade, de-influencing is about trust and reclaiming power, especially for Gen Z. Some influencers have been called out for being untrustworthy, such as in the “MascaraGate” incident involving an influencer being accused of wearing false eyelashes while promoting the virtues of a mascara from L’Oréal. In response to such critiques, some influencers are calling for everyone to take responsibility for themselves and their purchases.

However, not all messages on de-influencing are aimed at reducing users’ consumption generally. Some de-influencers criticize over-hyped products and encourage their followers to buy cheaper ones. In a departure from their usual content, TikTok beauty influencers are offering uncharacteristically critical product reviews, many directed at products that they believe have been overhyped by other influencers on the platform.

While the term “de-influencing” is new, the strategy itself has been around for years. Influencers who rose to prominence on YouTube as “beauty gurus” offered unbiased product reviews in the early days of the platform. As they grew in popularity, the world of influencer marketing was born, with brands capitalizing on the trusted guru role by paying or incentivizing them to promote products to their loyal followers.

The de-influencing trend may have arisen from a controversy over a product recommendation, with viewers accusing TikTok beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira of exaggerating the effect of a mascara that she had been paid to promote by secretly applying false lashes. This video and its backlash sparked wider debates surrounding influencers’ authenticity, prompting a deluge of de-influencing posts.

It is not just influencers who are facing scrutiny. A recent survey found that consumers are becoming more skeptical of influencer content and are looking to other sources for product recommendations. With 83% of respondents stating that they have been deceived by influencer content, it is clear that trust is an issue in the influencer space.

The rise of de-influencing may also reflect a shift towards conscious consumerism, with consumers seeking to make more informed and responsible purchasing decisions. With younger generations more environmentally conscious than their predecessors, they are looking to brands and influencers to take a stand on important issues such as sustainability, diversity, and inclusion.

Ultimately, the de-influencing trend is a wake-up call for influencers and brands to reassess their marketing strategies and ensure that they are transparent, authentic, and responsible. Influencers should be more conscious of the products they endorse, and brands should be more transparent about their collaborations with influencers. In a world where consumers are becoming savvier and socially conscious, both influencers and brands need to be honest and ethical in their practices to gain and maintain the trust of their audience. De-influencing is a reminder that the power dynamic between influencers and their followers is not one-sided, and that consumers have the power to influence their own purchasing decisions.

As the de-influencing trend continues to grow, it is likely that we will see more influencers and brands adapting to this shift in consumer behavior. Those who are transparent and responsible in their marketing strategies will likely succeed in gaining the trust and loyalty of their followers, while those who continue to rely on unethical practices may face consequences.

Adotat Staff
Adotat Staff
ADOTAT: Where brilliance meets marketing magic! Our team of marketing aficionados is here to make your brand shine. With 30,000+ C-level subscribers, we're the go-to online advertising publication for Chief Marketing Officers. Join us as we redefine the art of captivating audiences and turning heads in the world of marketing and advertising. Together, we'll make your brand the talk of the town!

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