Is Influencer Marketing Taking a Back Seat?

You’d think that social media is a hotbed of influencer marketing, where everything sells. But think again!

With its hashtag trending on TikTok at 150.7 million views, de-influencing has taken the front seat. Contrary to the bunch of celebs and semi-celebs telling you what to buy and what to wear, de-influencers are a small but growing breed of content creators telling people what not to get.

They are the archenemies of influencers. De-influencers stand out in a sea of endless recommendations from influencers left and right, to cajole you into buying everything from cosmetics to cold-pressed juices by dissuading you from consumerism.

What do de-influencers do?

A de-influencer could be anyone telling people what not to buy and what does not work as advertised by endorsers. According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), “The term is being popularised in videos by people whose experience runs the gamut: disappointed consumers, savvy beauty bloggers, doctors dispelling skin-care myths and former retail employees dishing on which products they saw returned most often”.

In “de-influencing” videos, people are critical and often ridicule viral products that haven’t worked for them. Users are dissuaded by de-influencers from living a consumerist lifestyle and from purchasing everything that is advertised on social media. The premise behind the concept is that while it is fine to purchase items that we genuinely need or want, we shouldn’t feel pressured to lead an excessively materialistic lifestyle just because an influencer says so.

The influencer market is booming and is already worth over $15 billion with many influencers willing to advertise goods to make more money for themselves. However, their credibility can be contested. In contrast, de-influencers who claim to be sincere, remove distractions and provide viewers with the truth. Many believe this to be a brand-new method for creators to be as authentic as possible. De-influencing is frequently used on social media by Millennials (aged 25 to 34), followed by Gen Zs (aged 18-24).

At a time when inflation is high globally, coupled with the threat of slowdown looms, de-influencing can prevent people from spending money or, in some situations, offer affordable options.

How did it start?

Sometime around 2020, a beauty influencer named Maddie Wells became the first person to use the phrase. Between 2018 and 2019, she was working in sales at beauty retailer brands, Ulta and Sephora in the U.S. She then began posting videos on TikTok, warning her followers about items that customers would return the most, and pleading her followers not to buy into the hype.

Wells presented a mascara and peeling product that consumers frequently returned in one of her videos, which received 2.5 million views. She states in the video, “I’m calling this ‘de-influencing.'”

In retrospect, it is refreshing to hear what is not good for you and what not to buy amidst a plethora of videos advertising what is good for you that would blow your pocket and profit the influencer.

Is influencer marketing dead?

Unsurprisingly, a number of social media users who have a huge following, i.e. influencers, have embraced de-influencing. However, they have employed a clever strategy to continue making money from brands: they “de-influence” viewers from buying particular products while “influencing” them to buy alternatives.

This raises the question –  will companies eventually resort to paying influencers to discredit competitors? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Corporate Media Services (CorpMedia), established in 1992, is an award-winning communications agency with the ability to deliver the best solutions to make the most of your marketing spend. From developing a big idea to creating impactful campaigns, we appreciate the importance of a complete approach to brand building and media relations. With our strategic insight, knowledge and proven experience, we know what it takes to establish a brand’s unique essence and bring it to life – at every touchpoint of communication and expression. If you’re looking for ways to tell your brand story, get in touch. Visit


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