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De-influencing: Taking the 'anti-buy' trend from online to Arizona

The hashtag “ #deinfluencing” has almost 360 million views on TikTok.  It’s a trend that encourages people not to buy things they don’t need, or that don’t work.  

There another hashtag on the app with almost 46 billion views: “ #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.

Kathy Cano-Murillo is an Arizona-based influencer, known online as the Crafty Chica. Even an influencer can still be influenced, and Cano-Murillo said she recently was by makeup artist Mikayla Nogueira

Nogueira has 14.6 million followers on TikTok.  On Jan. 24, she posted a video about L’Oreal’s Telescopic Lift mascara.

“I’m like, you know, a veteran at this,” Cano-Murillo said. “But her hook was, ‘Oh, my God. This changed my life.’”

But when it arrived: “It was just mascara. I didn’t need a new mascara!”

Mikayla’s video about the L’Oreal mascara went viral after commenters asked her about wearing false eyelashes in the video, which she has denied. 

“Even though I had the proof of the eyelash, [because] people did the close-up [inspections of the video],” Cano-Murillo said, “I did not want to believe it! Because I trust her and love her so much. I had to say, ‘You know what? She let me down.’” 

Cano-Murillo said she doesn’t see this as a reason to "cancel" Nogueira. 

“It doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop watching her videos, or I hate her, or anything like that,” she said. “It just was a reminder to keep things in context.” 

Cano-Murillo said she sees “de-influencing” as putting influencers on notice.

“Especially in this era, right now, where we’re trying to save money, people have their eyes open more,” Cano-Murillo said.

While online influencing won’t really go away, she said she hopes the trend will encourage more consumers to research products before they buy.

Cano-Murillo has been at the helm of the Crafty Chica brand for 21 years. Both she and the brand have been online for about as long, the self-described “professional hyper-creative” said. De-influencing is reminiscent of “anti-haul” YouTube videos, which became popular in the mid-2010s.  But she said this trend is aimed at a different audience.  

“Now, it’s a new group of people who are having the same realizations as before,” Cano-Murillo said. 

Hitendra Chaturvedi is an economics professor at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Even as de-influencing gains steam: He says nobody is immune to constant, targeted advertising online.

“With the millennials and the Gen Z’s, they’re more into buying experiences,” Chaturvedi said. “But still, they’re buying products.” 

Advertising through influencers remains effective, he said, even as people jump on the “anti-buy” trend.

“So, it started with the right thought: To de-influence people, to reduce waste,” Chaturvedi said.

Minimalist living, he said, hasn’t gone truly viral yet. Even de-influencing “has morphed into another economic phenomena and a way to make money.”

As the trend evolves, Cano-Murillo said she has seen influencers direct their audiences away from one product.

“And then they say, ‘Don’t buy this one, buy this one,’” she said.

When it comes to watching out for yourself as a consumer online, Cano-Murillo wished she had followed her own advice: “Do the research yourself before you invest that money.”

Cano-Murillo said doing that research looks like double-checking influencers’ claims by reading reviews and making sure a product is right for you before TikTok “makes you buy it.”

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Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.