As of right now, the hashtag #deinfluencing has over 167.8M content views on TikTok but what is it about this trend that has piqued everybody’s interest so much?

First of all, let’s start off with what #deinfluencing means – de-influencing is the act of telling followers what not to buy on social media. Contrary to the messages we’re bombarded with every day about the newest ‘must-have’ purchase, this trend is solely focused on talking you out of parting with your hard-earned cash and falling for the many marketing ‘tricks’ that have been employed to get you to the place where you’re ready to hand it over in the first place. The only problem is, as marketers, this trend is not one we can easily use to our advantage.

After two years straight of being bombarded with marketing messaging while sitting at home avoiding COVID, and then being welcomed back to ‘the new normal’ by a seriously unfriendly cost of living crisis, consumers are both looking for some relief from the marketing funnel (disguised as a TikTok rabbit hole) and a reason to spend less. This trend delivers on both counts. On top of this, Gen Z – labelled the “sustainability generation” by Forbes, who writes that the pandemic was to Gen Z what the 2008 recession was to millennials – have since learned to do less, spend less and, most importantly, waste less.

As well as the obvious links the trend has to the economic and environmental conscience of the modern-day consumer, it’s also being welcomed as an antidote to the concern over misleading branded ad content. Recently beauty influencer Mikayla Noguiera found herself embroiled in a serious online controversy, aptly-named #mascaragate. While promoting L’Oreal’s Telescopic lift mascara, she was accused of wearing fake eyelashes – an accusation she denied, but a fierce debate around the authenticity of influencer promotions ensued.

Authenticity has been a buzzword used in the influencer space for a good few years now and while brands are investing more and more money into influencer marketing, social users are growing increasingly guarded and savvy. More than ever, consumers are looking to authentic creators they can relate to – hence the massive growth in micro-influencer & UGC marketing – and what’s more authentic than telling someone not to buy something? These honest de-influencer reviews are winning popular lifestyle influencers trust with their audiences, which then translates into greater confidence in their positive brand recommendations. This trend is reminiscent of the #dupes trend which has also been making serious waves with 1.7 billion views on TikTok, telling people which fashion, beauty and lifestyle swaps they can make that will have the same aesthetic results, for less.

We are really seeing de-influencing making its mark on the beauty industry – which thrives on product recommendations, with 32.4 billion views on #BeautyTok content and counting – where some of the most influential beauty creators have built their personal brands on these harsh but honest reviews. For some of these figures, this doesn’t always work; for example, when it came to Hyram Yarbro launching his own brand off the back of his platform, the authenticity didn’t quite translate.

Is this the end of the ‘must-have’ product? No. But this trend and others like it aren’t getting so much traction for no reason. Both influencers and consumers alike are reacting to the wastefulness and pressure to overindulge and over-consume and are moving towards greater transparency before purchase.

What does this mean for our client influencer strategies? Authenticity (I know, I know) is needed more than ever and three things are key.

1. Forging long-term partnerships with influencers is necessary to demonstrate true advocacy;

2. Use micro-influencers and ‘people like us’ to make content more relatable; and finally

3. Use de-influencers to your advantage – work with creators who are known for their honest reviews, build trust with them, and let them test your client’s products before promoting them, ensuring that their product recommendation is truly credible.