TikTok is a major driver of new social commerce sales and creators have become a mainstay in brands’ social commerce strategies, particularly those targeting Gen Z and Millennials. TikTok’s latest viral trend of ‘de-influencing’ continues to demonstrate the power of influencers in shaping purchase decisions. De-influencing involves TikTok creators sharing the products they didn’t enjoy or wouldn’t recommend using and suggesting alternative options. This trend is on the rise: views of TikTok videos tagged with #deinfluencing rose from 23.1 million to 164.6 million from January 26 to February 15 this year.
At first glance, this may seem like unusual behaviour for creators, as giving a negative review of products could potentially harm their future brand partnerships or influencer income. However, de-influencing can reinforce the relationship with followers, as this builds the trust and authenticity needed to maintain an engaged follower base. #Deinfluencing is arguably a response to over-consumption propagated by influencers and growing cynicism towards #ads on social media, but the wider context is also important in understanding why this trend has gained so much traction recently.
Consumers are seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint - 49% of consumers believe it’s important to purchase from brands that utilise sustainable materials & practices, and three quarters of Gen Z state that sustainability is more important to them than brand names. With consumers increasingly making conscious decisions with sustainability and the environment in mind, this trend looks to highlight the problem of excessive consumerism in favour of mindful consumption. Consumers are increasingly looking away from the bulk-buying, influencer driven hauls of the past and instead are decreasing their buying habits and favouring products from influencers and brands that deliver consciously.
The cost-of-living crisis has meant that for many, purse strings have been tightened. This crunch on income has meant that people are looking to be more particular in their purchase decisions and are seeking products that they know will work and that their peers have given the go-ahead on. While many brands and influencers have been sensitive to this, others have hit the headlines for being inauthentic and not reading the room. All adding fuel to the #deinfluencing fire.
Ultimately, “de-influencing” is still influencing. Creators are using their power to sway the purchase decisions of a broader population; the practice has just been adapted to resonate with consumers during an economic downturn. Trends come and go and the hype around “de-influencing” may fade when economic conditions improve. But this is a good time for marketers to re-evaluate their influencer strategies to ensure that they are partnering with the right creators. Marketers should look for creators who have expressed previous interest and organic engagement with the brand so that content is authentic and still based in trust.
But in the meantime, there may be opportunities for brands to tap into this trend. After all, when creators tell their followers to avoid a product, they tend to recommend a dupe or an alternative that’s either more wallet friendly, more sustainable, or simply better. Brands can see and learn about the reason competitor brands and products are being ‘de-influenced’, and make sure their own product is as relevant and suitable to the demands of today’s consumers.
TikTok’s spark ads are a great tool that amplifies existing organic videos on TikTok to fit campaign objectives. This way, brands can amplify on strong performing ‘de-influencing’ content that promotes their product in an honest review to reach new user base and promote their brand in a meaningful way.