If you’ve ever found yourself longing to buy something new after seeing an influencer sharing it online, you’re far from alone. But thanks to the impact of the cost of living crisis, we’re now more aware of mindful spending – and less likely to part with any cash until we’ve checked out the reviews and searched for discounts and promotions.
Thanks to these changing habits, a new breed of influencers is in town. Known as ‘de-influencers’, they’re more likely to tell you what NOT to buy, giving you extra confidence that you’re spending your hard-earned money wisely.
What is de-influencing?
'De-influencing' has been named one of the words of the year for 2023 by the dictionary publisher Collins. But what does it actually mean? Collins describes it as 'the use of social media to warn followers to avoid certain commercial products, lifestyle choices, etc.'
While old-school influencing was about convincing us that we needed certain products NOW, de-influencing is about getting us to pause before we spend and really think about our purchase. De-influencers are calling for more honesty, which can only be good in the current economic climate. After all, it’s very easy to love the latest trend when you’ve been sent it for free, but that doesn’t mean you’d gladly spend your own hard-earned money on it.
Instead of encouraging us to splash out, de-influencers are urging us to think twice before we buy – and question whether it’s really worth the money. They do this by offering honest reviews and budget alternatives.
This is great news because it can be hard to watch endless shopping hauls at a time when most families are feeling the pinch – and it’s also teaching young people the importance of mindful spending.
Is influencing over?
Influencers are still selling over £3 billion worth of goods a year, and with 54% of people saying they made a purchase after seeing a product or service on Instagram or TikTok, the power of influencing is far from over.
It’s important to note that even though 78 million people follow the de-influencing hashtag in the UK (893 million worldwide), the movement is not a rejection of spending. Instead, de-influencing represents a move towards authenticity in social media. What's more, viral de-influencing posts aren’t defined by social media's mega influencers, but by creators with valuable insights to share.
Take @HydrationCEO, who discusses skincare splurges that she's never seen non-influencers wear. Or @alyssastephanie, who happily shows you all the best dupes for cult products like haircare and make-up, pointing out why no one needs expensive lip gloss. And @WantZamora, who gives some very sound advice on why none of us should buy anything that's trending (clue: what goes up in popularity quickly comes down again).
Can de-influencing make us smarter spenders?
Whether you're a fan of this trend or not, de-influencers can help us all become smarter shoppers by helping us distinguish the things we need from the items we feel that we want.
This can only be good for teens and kids who have grown up seeing sponsored posts weaved seamlessly into their social media feeds, leading them to associate the influencer and their success with the products they sell. This, alongside the ease at which we can buy items without leaving a platform, encourages impulse buys without real thought.
Clinical psychologist Linda Blair agrees, "It's not gullibility that makes kids fall for these posts. Mostly, it's impulse control and the fact that kids have trouble waiting. So, a typical teen will see something, and instead of thinking, they feel compelled to act immediately."
Some de-influencers share a strong message about over-consumption, others support ethical and sustainable shopping, while others tackle fast fashion, encouraging us all to become informed consumers who are savvy about our spending.
On the sustainability front, de-influencers talk about fast-fashion anti-hauls, which run counter to the viral fashion haul posts. Alongside this are the what not to buy videos that tell you why you don't need the latest fashion must-haves of the season.
And for those who are pulled into the thrill of Black Friday but often regret their purchases, it's worth following posts such as De-influencing things you DO NOT NEED, which talks about spending triggers, over-consumption, and not falling for expensive marketing trends.
Spending coach @OvercomingOverspending also cleverly sums up why we buy things we don't want by discussing how consumer culture works and how to understand our spending triggers and beliefs about what products can do for us.
Ultimately, whether you follow de-influencers or not, the real key to limiting retail regret is to think about who's influencing you online. Are they credible? Would you let that person convince you to buy something in a shop? If not, it's probably best to think twice before you reach for your debit card.