Man bites dog is news. Dog bites man is not. That’s the insight behind the rise of #deinfluencers. You’ve heard from the hordes of influencers telling you to buy this or buy that. Now you can hear from the hordes on what NOT to buy. It’s a big trend on TikTok and now on Instagram. You have folks panning entire aisles of Sephora products. Ok, they’re panning other things as well, but Sephora hits home, literally, because we have kilos of gunk in shiny bottles loading every surface of our teen’s room.

Is this a new trend? Like anything on social, no. Those of you in the IT industry will be familiar with the famous magic quadrants of Gartner. They plonk tech companies and products into categories like “Challengers, Leaders, Visionaries and Niche”. Without saying so they’re telling you that some companies are better than others. And if they aren’t in the quadrant, THEY’VE BEEN DEINFLUENCED! Don’t come crying to us when your project runs into multi-year delays!

Consumer report publications used to achieve the same goal with reviews and ratings. As did feedback aggregator sites like tripadvisor and Expedia. Or your friendly Amazon review. However, there is now a suspicion that much of this is manipulated. So much data, so little trust! Enter the influencer, or the new shiny de-influencer who will guide you on what is really what. An old-fashioned sales technique to establish oneself as a trusted advisor is to diss one product eg “don’t buy this model of the car – lot of problems.” And that’s how de-influencing helps!

Why are influencers and de-influencers so big these days? 

One reason – which was in my trends list issue – is that we are a more peer oriented society. Thanks to social and digital communication, the young spend more time with peers than with “elders”. They need influencers to tell them how to fit into their particular sub-tribe. And the tribes are multiplying. Fashion forward is all very well, but what if you want to focus on the backward side like Lizzo? Ok, her butt-baring fashion seems to be more promotional for her brand Yitty, than what the brand actually sells, but are you ready to bare all? Or what are “bomb shots” and should I “flaunt my neckline” or do I want to espouse “minimalism” in a long gauze tutu – all this in just one piece in Times of India! If you’re googling these references beware that they may be NSFW! Boss was my go-to power dressing brand. Now when I see the billboards they seem more focused on rappers than paper-pushers! When Pharrell Williams is the “designer” for Louis Vuitton we know that the age of the influencer is at its happy stage.

The second reason of course is that the proliferation of products is difficult to navigate. Unilever has 77,000+ SKUs worldwide! Amazon has millions on its marketplace. We need a “guide” – on what – and what not – to buy, and we are looking for credible people to do that for us.

When do influencers work?

The influencer has to have the right following and the right capability. And the communication should be interesting in its own right i. For example, a recent campaign I was proud to be associated with for Indeed has Alok Kejriwal with Raghu and Rajiv with the whackiest set of job interviews. The series is funny, interesting, and educational. Here’s a teaser.

Check out my video tutorial on how to get influencer marketing right!

Marketing Insight: How can brands embrace de-influencing

At its core the trend is positioned as being sustainable, and getting people to buy only what they need. Brands can adopt a similar position and suggest who should not buy what. They can also show you how to make your existing things work better, perhaps with a small add-on.

Upsell, cross-sell is embedded in the strategies of many organisations. Therefore a position like “The only product you need” or “Mindful Marketing” can differentiate a brand. Apple tried this approach with “You don’t need another charger” but that was not positioned correctly. It came across as fleecing the customer. On the other hand Fairphone sells phones that you can repair yourself! And with a guarantee of lasting fie years! They are admittedly tiny with some 400,000 phones sold to date, but they are profitable.


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