“You NEED this!”
It’s the longtime mantra of social media influencers everywhere — especially on TikTok. Marketers love TikTok for this exact reason. Influencers have the ability to cultivate genuine connections with their audience by establishing authenticity and creating niche content, making products an easy sell.
DEEPER DIVE: 6 of the most influential Arizona-based influencers
The TikTok algorithm is incredibly powerful and has a keen ability to predict what kind of content the average user wants to see. Because of the algorithm’s ability to get into the head of its users, often your FYP (“For You Page”) can feel like a constant informercial of products you really think you need. And since users are already watching content on their phones, it’s easy to move into their shopping platform of their choice and purchase that “lifesaving” product at the drop of a hat.
Recently, TikTok users have noticed just how influencer trends negatively impact their bank account — especially as inflation continues to have dramatic ramifications, even for people with high incomes. As a backlash, the “de-influencing” trend began.
With millions upon millions of views, the de-influencing trend is here to stay. But should you worry about it when it comes to your business?
Could de-influencing trend affect my brand?
The odds that your brand’s bottom line could ultimately be affected by the de-influencing trend is low, but not impossible.
Social media has opened the door for cheaply made, fly-by-night products that are manufactured to specifically fill a gap in the market based on overnight demand. Ethical businesses have less of a reason to worry.
However, not all ethical businesses get off scot free. Prestige beauty brands are a special target for this trend. As beauty influencers rave about impossibly high cost products with $50+ price points (That they themselves received for free as part of beauty PR packages), sales skyrocket and bank accounts are pressed to keep up. But it’s important to note that these products aren’t just products — they’re lifestyle brands.
Charlotte Tilbury had a hit on her hands with the $49 Hollywood Flawless Filter that thousands of beauty influencers continue to tout as a “holy grail” of achieving airbrushed, glowing skin. The product has since been “duped” by lower-cost brands, but Charlotte Tilbury still reigns supreme, even as de-influencers clued into lower cost options.
What if my product lands on the ‘de-influencing’ blacklist?
So why is Charlotte Tilbury still on top? Because people don’t just buy products — they buy into a brand. With every bottle of Hollywood Flawless Filter purchased, consumers are also buying into the idea that they, too, could look like a glowing Charlotte Tilbury model.
While de-influencers are powerful and an important reminder for those worried about their bottom line, they’re a small gust of wind in the raging storm that is capitalism. Consumers are being hit from all angles with brand messaging, and it’s not just on social media.
An integrated, insights-driven marketing campaign across channels is a powerful protector of your brand. Ensuring your paid media, public relations, web presence and creative are aligned is the best way to create brand consistency. That consistency conveys a specific message to a specific audience. And maybe the people who have to stretch to afford your product aren’t your audience at all.
I’ve been de-influenced! What about my brand’s reputation?
Sometimes saying nothing at all is the appropriate response to a PR crisis. The same goes for being de-influenced.
It can be tempting to subvert the backlash by defending your product, but that’s the worst move you can make. Celebrities don’t comment on every negative thing said about them in the press, and that’s because their personal brand is powerful enough to overcome it and it’s below them to address it. Oftentimes, calling de-influencers out will lead to even more negative publicity. It’s the Streisand Effect in full swing!
We all know that $88 Lululemon leggings are overpriced — We know there are cheaper alternatives at Old Navy or Target — but Lululemon’s sales aren’t hurting. That’s because the brand knows their audience, targets them and embraces the aura of being a brand that’s not attainable to everyone.
To respond and try to justify the cost would just land the brand in hot water with consumers. Let your brand speak for itself — just make sure it’s well-spoken with an integrated marketing campaign that can weather any storm.
Author: Christina Caldwell is public relations account supervisor at The James Agency, Scottsdale’s women-led, insights-driven marketing agency. To learn more, visit thejamesagency.com.