LONDON: Influencer relations are a higher communications and marketing priority for the UK luxury sector than traditional media relations, according to a survey of industry specialists.

Working with PR Week, the Luxury Communications Council (LCC) polled 30 of its core members to gauge their views about a range of issues, including digitalisation, budgets and the impact of Brexit.

The LCC describes itself as “a community of London’s top communication and marketing experts” with Alfred Dunhill, Boodles, Corinthia Hotels and Rolls-Royce among its founding members.

According to the survey findings, the communication departments of luxury brands now tend to control their social media strategies and there has been an “explosion” in the production of in-house video content and mobile comms.

“Influencer relations and social media are run by the comms department and are fast becoming a core ingredient in our whole strategy,” said Danny Brennan, PR and Communications Director at Laurent-Perrier, the champagne house.

Graff Diamonds is another luxury brand that places heavy emphasis on social media. “Image-driven social media platforms, Instagram in particular, now form an integral part of our comms strategy,” explained Katherine Roach, the company’s Head of PR and Marketing Worldwide.

And in another sign of the growing role of marketing communications in the digital age, all respondents reported that their role had “expanded substantially” in the last five years, while 80% said their budgets had increased over the last three.

Elsewhere, the survey revealed that a full 95% of respondents said the Chinese market had become more of a focus for them, so much so that almost half now retain PR agencies in China and Hong Kong for this reason.

Despite their generally upbeat assessment of the state of the luxury industry, most of the comms professionals in the survey also expressed concern about Brexit, the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. More than half said Brexit would have a negative impact, while a third viewed it as positive development.

“Brexit has made things uncertain for many industries and the luxury industry is no exception,” said Danielle Stroud, Head of Marketing at luxury venue Hedsor House.

“We do expect to see a slowdown in lavish events as British businesses tighten their belts due to uncertain times again.”

Commenting on the overall findings, LCC founder Rosie Shephard said: “In times of such drastic technological, sociological and now political changes in the UK, the marcoms role, and tools at our disposal, is evolving faster than ever.”

Sourced from PR Week, LCC; additional content by WARC staff