Friday, 14 April 2023

De-influencing: How Brands Can React To The Countertrend

Written by Alex Gallagher
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De-influencing: the trend taking social media by storm is a real countermovement. If social media were your go-to place for shopping recommendations, now you will see the other way around but what does it really mean?

With over 430 million views on TikTok alone, #deinfluencing has become impossible to ignore. Brands cannot for sure, but what can they learn from it?

De-influencing: From TikTok To Marketing

Platforms like TikTok and Instagram are now seeing a swell of users telling their followers what not to buy. The hashtag #deinfluencing has reached over 430 million views on TikTok alone becoming something tangible, especially for marketers now asking the question: what does this shift mean for brands?

This question is especially pressing when you consider how big this trend has been with Gen Z, the present and future of all brand consumer bases. Hence, brands must understand why de-influencers have struck a chord with Gen Z and how they can respond to build a long-term, meaningful connection.

Why Does Gen Z Care About De-influencing?

Social media is Gen Z’s comfort zone, with over half spending more than 4 hours a day scrolling through their favourite apps. In fact, UNiDAYS' research found that nearly all (95%) of their student members use TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube for product tutorials and recommendations.

They understand this space better than anyone, and they should not be taken for fools. They are hyper-aware of brand intentions regarding influencer partnerships and shoppable ads, with many growing tired of constant sales pitches whenever they open the app.

This discontent has now reached a tipping point with users jumping at the opportunity to fight back by supporting the de-influencer trend. It plays directly into what matters most to them: authenticity. Brands need to be real if they want to gain their trust.

What Does De-influencing Mean For Influencers?

For many, the de-influencer trend could be the death knell for influencers, but that is not the case. Gen Z consumers still care, with the UNiDAYS research finding nearly two-thirds are more likely to buy a product if it is endorsed by an influencer. The right influencer still offers brands the unique opportunity to connect with Gen Z followers on a personal level, offering trusted shopping recommendations and tips.

Finding influencers that are an authentic fit for the brand’s values and have a genuine love for the product is key. Followers are tired of influencers peddling brand deals that are clearly money motivated and do not have their best interests in mind.

So this is not the end. If anything, it is a new beginning for how brands work with influencers and an added incentive to seek out influencers who are natural ambassadors for the brand.

However: reviewing and updating influencer marketing strategies and partnerships is just one step. There are other factors brands must consider to mitigate the de-influencer threat.

How Else Can Brands Adapt To The Countertrend?

Everyone has a price – and for Gen Z, finding the goods they love at an affordable one is key. This is partly why de-influencing has been such a hit. The content usually offers cheaper alternatives too expensive, overhyped products, allowing consumers to save at a time when high inflation has put many under financial pressure.

After a period of uncertainty and financial stress, Gen Z is ready to enjoy themselves and indulge. UNiDAYS’ new travel report revealed that 84% of UK students have not reduced their holiday budget from last year despite the cost of living crisis, with many planning to increase their spending.

However, they are still a price-savvy demographic, with the vast majority saying (81%) finding value for money is still the most important factor.

They are ready to play hardball and scour the internet to find a brand’s best offer. They are also prepared to bide their time, with nearly a third saying they are waiting for items to go on sale before buying.
While inflation and supply chain pressures mean brands cannot offer discounts year-round, adopting the right pricing strategy will prove crucial to building long-term loyalty with Gen Z.

Supporting The Activist Generation

However, it is important to note – price is not everything for Zoomers. Brands must also earn the trust of a generation of activists, keyed into the political climate and ultra-passionate about social issues. As such they demand brands meet exacting standards.

They have done their research and want to go the extra mile to ensure their money is going to brands and causes that align with their values. For example, Gen Z cares about sustainability more than any other generation, with the research finding that over half of students are buying more eco-friendly and sustainable products than a year ago.

Brands must be aware of these conscious consumers and help amplify their voices and meet their exacting standards. Brands like Levi’s, for example, are actively displaying their support by embodying Gen Z’s values and amplifying their voices, to empower a generation of consumers.
Any attempts to cover up unethical business practices will be immediately called out by de-influencers and their followers. Words must be backed with action.

Transparency is key, with 22% of Gen Z noting that a lack of transparency reduces their opinion of a brand more than any other generation.
With Gen Z, cutting corners is not allowed and a considered approach to sustainability is more crucial than ever, in the age of the de-influencer.

Embracing The Change

The de-influencing trend should come as a surprise to no one. It is born out of consumers, tired of lazy marketing tactics, demanding brands and influencers step up.

The message from Gen Z is clear: brands must change their approach or risk further backlash from this influential consumer group. While this may seem daunting, or even dangerous in the presence of de-influencers, it is a real opportunity for brands to build a successful future with Gen Z at the forefront of their consumer base.