Magazine reporter Smaranda Botezatu reports an increasingly popular “trend” among influencers on social media – deinfluencing. Instead of recommending high-end products, influencers have started focusing more on cheaper options with good quality.
“This is part two of things you just do not need because I have a really bad spending problem and I’m trying to cut back on my overconsumption and you probably should too,” says Michelle Skidelsky in one of her TikToks that gathered over 2.1 million views. She talks about unnecessary perfume collections, the ephemerality of UGG boots in fashion, how you don’t need 15 identical sports bras from the same activewear brand and the hoarding of expensive skincare products. Her viral video turned into a series of 10 episodes entitled “Things you don’t need”.
What Michelle is doing is called “deinfluencing” – a trend that became a hashtag and gathered more than 190 million views. It aims to convince viewers not to buy certain products or to give cheaper (and perhaps even better) alternatives a chance over those that become cult favorites.
Why is this happening? The reasons can vary.
One might be that we are sick of the classical influencers. They are ‘hyping up’ products, sometimes without even mentioning the fact that it’s an ad. There have been cases when the public was misled to believe that a product does one thing when it was really just a hoax. This lack of authenticity builds distrust and culminates in scandals and apology videos. This refers especially to Gen Z, who prefer raw content to curated content – a recent example in the beauty industry being MascaraGate, where influencer Mikayla Nogueira falsely advertised a mascara using false lashes. Deinfluencing can be used as a tool by content creators to appear more authentic, giving honest reviews and prioritizing their audience rather than the brand that wishes for positive reviews – which is exactly what consumers want.
If you take a trip down memory lane and remember what used to be trendy two to three years ago as the pandemic unfolded, it’s the “that girl” trend. It mainly focused on waking up at 6 am, working out, being productive and drinking green juice. It also highlighted the “treat yourself” motto, with 10-step skincare routines and pretty activewear. Since we were mostly in our homes, overconsumption became an unconscious choice. We needed to check it off our to-do list to fit into an aesthetic. In contrast, we are now witnessing a phase of cutting out things we don’t need and putting an end to mindless buying.
Another factor could be the looming recession. Inflation is eating up our money. Even though influencers can afford expensive products, which are sometimes just for free, that is not true for the regular person. We are now more conscious of our spending habits. We wonder if the €100 face cream is worth it and how we can cut back on splurging. Deinfluencing tackles just that. Swapping high-end products that are claimed to be no different, if not worse, than the more affordable drugstore version. Sometimes straight-out stating that it’s not worth the hype and that you could do much better without it.
Deinfluencing may contribute as well to a more sustainable approach to our consumer habits. This trend has mainly concerned the beauty and lifestyle sphere, where we are bombarded with miracle life-saving creams and serums, fashion items that are all the rage at a certain time and what supplements our bodies need. This only adds to our anxieties and fear of missing out, inducing the idea that we lack this and that; that particular item might be the solution. Thus, the danger of overconsumption is right around the corner, which we know contributes to environmental waste. Having our favorite content creators tell us what’s not worth buying may incentivize us to think more critically about what and how much we buy, which could lead to developing a sustainable approach to our consumer habits.
Yet, this theory would only work if we are deinfluenced into buying a product, not if we are offered a cheaper, similar, or even better alternative to it (a.k.a a ‘’dupe’’). That is still influencing, and it generates the same result: driving up consumerism.
It cannot be overseen that deinfluencing is still influencing. Ironically, influencers are still the ones deinfluencing us. While it does spark a conversation about consumerism and whether a product deserves the hype, it can still be done to encourage spending and buying things without which we would not be complete. At the same time, we can acknowledge that this trend aims to bring equilibrium to an app that feeds us products second by second, with influencers fawning over their gifted items. On top of that, influencers may find that by deinfluencing, their audience starts to trust their reviews more because of their transparency and authenticity.
“Having our favorite content creators tell us what’s not worth buying may incentivize us to think more critically about what and how much we buy, which could lead to developing a sustainable approach to our consumer habits ” – Smaranda Botezatu