The Rise of De-Influencing & How To Leverage It

By Henley Worthen · March 13, 2023

Tubular’s social video data analytics indicate that #deinfluencing content has now reached 332M views and 35.5M engagements on TikTok in the last 90 days.

So what is de-influencing? Exactly what it sounds like. Creators on video platforms encourage viewers not to buy certain cult products promoted by otherwise popular influencers. Check it out:

From fashion to beauty, gaming, and entertainment — influencers have fueled the rate of over consumption enormously. Everywhere you look on social media there are millions of product and many people feel pressured to collect items just to stay ‘up to date’ with the world. Product recommendations from influencers have the capacity to cause viral frenzies and mass sellouts. Consider Dior’s Addict Lip Glow Oil or Rare Beauty’s Soft Pinch Liquid Blush. These were products that sold out after several influencers gave rave reviews. 

However, economic disparity across the globe along with some recent influencer missteps has urged TikTokers to fight back against the influencer merry-go-round. 

Enter stage left: De-influencing: telling audiences what not to buy and sometimes recommending better, cheaper product dupes.


def gonna be taken off a lot of PR lists after this🤠 #hairtok #skincare #makeup #deinfluencing

♬ original sound – kayli boyle

Here’s a classic example of de-influencing. After showing her cluttered makeup and toiletries cabinets, creator Kayli Boyle goes on to address cult products like SuperGoop Sunscreen and Laneige Lip Mask. She says “you do not need this. If you want something that is going to moisturize your lips, just use Aquaphor”

By doing so, she is helping people:

  • Save money
  • Discourage purchases
  • Find cheaper alternatives

Great for the consumer, but this poses a new obstacle for product marketers…

How it started

Economic uncertainty

Let’s set the stage. There’s no question that impending recession, inflation, and economic disparity have played a major role in sparking the de-influencing trend. 

Prices are soaring. Corporate cutbacks are happening. People everywhere are bracing themselves by saving more and spending less. That means viewers aren’t as trigger-happy to pay $60 + shipping on this week’s latest trend. Marketers are facing hesitant buyers and a higher rate of competition.

It doesn’t mean that people aren’t buying at all. It just means that before buying a new foundation or lip gloss, people are spending more time looking for honest reviews and weighing different product options. 

Influencers & inauthenticity

There have been recent TikTok scandals that have caused massive audiences to question the credibility of their favorite creators. One that sits at the head of this story is Mikayla Nogueria who reviewed L’Oréal mascara. Soon after posting, sleuths across TikTok went to work analyzing the video, mostly suggesting that she used false lashes to exaggerate the results.


THESE ARE THE LASHES OF MY DREAMS!! @lorealparisusa never lets me down 😭 #TelescopicLift #LorealParisPartner #LorealParis @zoehonsinger

♬ original sound – Mikayla Nogueira

In reaction to Mikayla’s video, influencer @rawbeautykrisiti shared her opinion as “someone who’s been doing this for 10 years”, suggesting that influencers’ jobs are to maintain their credibility. This couldn’t be more true. Influencers with no credibility are far less valuable to marketers than those who maintain trust. Kristi suggests that influencers like herself should let the product be what it is. Do their best to sell and do their job, but if a product falls short— let it. 

When audiences start to spend their hard-earned money on something even as small as a tube of mascara and they don’t get the same results they saw in a product review, that’s when the trust between audience and influencer starts to crumble. 

But Mikayla wasn’t the first influencer to be brought into question. Mega-influencers and TikTok it-girls like Meredith Duxbury and Alex Earl have been under speculation for some time now. Recently, their awareness and authenticity were called into question when they attended an over-the-top extravagant influencer trip to Dubai with Tarte cosmetics. 


#stitch with @Meredith Duxbury can we just stop with the gasping now does it really still work as a sales technique??? (No hate to Meredith btw a lot of people do this) #deinfluencing #meredithduxbury #makeup #beautytok #influencer #influencerinthewild

♬ original sound – Honest Phoebe

One influencer @honestpheobe posted a video response to Meredith Duxbury gasping over Charlotte Tilbury’s blush wands saying. In the video, @honestpheobe says “when they start gasping before they’ve even put the product on— that’s when you know it’s sponsored”. 

Aside from TikTok de-influencers actively retracting product reviews from mega-influencers, there have also been creators like Maddie Wells who exposes brands after she worked in beauty chains, Sephora and Ulta, in 2022. She posts TikTok videos revealing which products were most returned, urging them not to fall for the hype and pretty packaging.

The rise of de-influencing tells us…

1. The Authenticity Economy is the only investment appreciating this year

If it’s not the real thing, Gen Z isn’t buyin’ it. This audience questions everything, every product, and every influencer. Before forming new partnerships, fully understanding an influencer’s relationship with their audience is crucial. Fewer followers but higher credibility is a much more lucrative investment— and that brings us to our next finding…

2. Mega-influencers are losing credibility while micro-influencers are building trust

Many brands partner with micro-creators because they simply don’t have the marketing budget to spend $70k on a single influencer product review. While micro-influencers have a smaller audience, the people they touch have much higher conversion and loyalty rates. 

3. An impending recession plus overconsumption means brands are in higher competition. 

Competitive marketing is not new,  but today it carries massive weight. Data gives you the ability to monitor the marketing and positioning strategies of your competitors.

Integrating de-influencing into your marketing strategy

1. Monitor activity about your own brand…and  competitors 

Competitive marketing is about to turn up the heat, and de-influencing offers a lot of opportunities for competitors to win new customers. Many products and brand names have been consistently scrutinized throughout many of the de-influencing videos. Stay aware of the products being put into question so you can position your brand as the perfect dupe.

2. Use industry-wide feedback as product creation inspiration

Some of the de-influencing going down has been brutally honest but these complaints give all of us insights into what consumers like and dislike. 

3. Partner with influencers who have nurtured trust with their audience

The creators who are leading the de-influencing trend have quickly grown a remarkable amount of followers and trust in a very short amount of time. Brands should move quickly to form strategic partnerships with these leaders of authenticity.

Beyond the creators leading the de-influencing trend, you can also spot those that garner trust from their audience with data analytics. Measurements like watch time indicate quality viewership.

If you’re interested in learning how to monitor behavioral activity on social, understand consumer sentiments in an efficient way, and identify creators who will build your brand trust, it’s time to try Tubular. Click below to test drive the world’s single source of truth for social video.

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