If de-influencing commenced with doubt and a loss of trust, it is being driven by other factors, such as Gen Z being fatigued by the endless stream of things to purchase.


The hashtag #deinfluencing on TikTok boasts over 521.6 million views as of 22 April 2023. On 15 March 2023, the hashtag had accumulated over 100 million views on TikTok. This means there has been a rapid escalation of the de-influencing trend in just over a month. This is something brands need to consider and think about, particularly in relation to how authentic they are and how they relate to their client base.

What is de-influencing?

De-influencing occurs when influencers tell their followers why they shouldn’t buy a product. The trend commenced in the beauty and lifestyle category of Influencers after the controversy surrounding beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira [1]. Mikayla was accused of using false eyelashes when reviewing a L’Oréal mascara. The fallout resulted in a broader question about the honesty of influencers and questions by customers about whether posts shared by influencers were honest representations of products and their opinions.

De-influencing has now spread to numerous other areas where influencers have previously been used. For example:

      Gamers now share which chairs, microphones, and headsets they feel are not worth the money.

      Dermatologists advise users on what skin care products to avoid.

      Wedding planners who de-influence the wedding planning industry [2].

If de-influencing commenced with doubt and a loss of trust, it is being driven by other factors, such as Gen Z being fatigued by the endless stream of things to purchase. The anti-consumption trend is, in turn, being driven not just by fatigue but also by rising living expenses [3]. With the rising cost of living, consumers must make more considered decisions as to what they spend their income on.

While de-influencing sounds like it is negative, Brands and Influencers are now using de-influencing to re-establish trust and confidence with their customers by advising them on what not to buy.

Authenticity, trust, and de-influencing

In an earlier article, we commented, “Brand authenticity is essential if organisations are to build a strong, loyal base of clients and success in today’s business world.”

The question of brand authenticity is central to this de-influencing trend. Authenticity and transparency are key to building consumer trust in today's marketing landscape. Consumers have access to more information than ever before and expect brands to be transparent about their practices and value [4].

Yet, this is a lesson many brands still have to learn.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) updated their Code of Ethics, requiring advertisers to disclose partnerships openly and clearly or potentially risk breaching the code. A study in January 2023 by HypeAuditor of 521,000 Instagram posts from Australian influencers found that only 1,368 posts complied with these guidelines. Many Influencers choose to be deceptive because they fear it would make their content look less organic [5].

Many brands and influencers forget that de-influencing can be more harmful than traditional negative publicity because it goes to the core of a brand’s credibility and trustworthiness. Consumers who feel misled or deceived by a brand's marketing efforts are more likely to spread negative word-of-mouth and discourage others from engaging with the company [6]. When negativity and poor reviews are spread by word of mouth, there is little a brand can do to turn this negativity around because it occurs outside their channels of social listening.

De-influencing and the growth of Influencers

As mentioned, de-influencing is not the death knell of Influencers. Many Influencers are using de-influencing to re-establish trust with followers. De-influencing is a way to be perceived as authentic and honest, and so continue to drive influencer’s social engagement and follower counts. By de-influencing, influencers can gain trust, re-establish their authority, and protect their career and future income [7].

At the moment, de-influencing is a skyrocketing trend as consumers seek honest and unbiased product reviews from people they perceive to be authentic. What does this mean for brands and organisations?

What to do about de-influencing?

Rather than ignoring or running away from de-influencing, brands should embrace this trend as an opportunity to engage more effectively with their target clients and work smarter with influencers.

Work smarter with influencers

Brands and organisations can no longer afford to provide the products and scripts to influencers and expect them to repeat what they are told to say. For authentic engagement with influencers to occur, they need to be part of the creative process from the beginning [8].

In an era of de-influencing, brand authenticity is essential, and this starts with how influencers are engaged and brought into the creative process.

Remember the power of micro-influencers.

Micro-influencers tend to have both a more loyal following and more power. This is because they have fewer ads and are therefore seen as more trustworthy and authentic. However, when engaging with micro-influencers, the same principle of authenticity and transparency applies.

Be transparent

Brands and organisations must be transparent about their relationship with sponsors and clearly disclose sponsored content. Given the figures quoted above in the HypeAuditor survey of 2023, this fact needs to be reinforced.

Transparency and authenticity are two qualities customers and clients are looking for in brands. Betraying customers’ trust, particularly in these two areas, can expose brands to a social media backlash and public scandals that damage brand reputation.

Focus on providing value

In a period of economic restraint, customers are seeking value. Brands and organisations need to consider what value their product provides or what value can be provided alongside the product being sold.

Is there something that adds value for the customer? It can be educational or entertainment value. Something that adds value to the customer rather than simply trying to sell the product.

De-influencing presents challenges for brands and consumers. For brands, it can lead to wasted resources, misaligned marketing campaigns, and damage to their reputation, particularly if the influencer chooses to criticize or point out the flaws in a product. For customers, it can lead to confusion and mistrust regarding whom and what to believe. This can happen when influencers promote a particular brand one day only to distance themselves from it on another occasion.

Yet, for all the challenges, de-influencing is still influencing. For brands and organisations, it is another challenge to embrace and think creatively about how to use de-influencing in authentic and transparent ways to build trust in the brand and products.