Anupama Sajeet
Sep 22, 2023

The CMO's MO: Damyant Khanoria on 'risk-taking' and sustainability in the smartphone space

Oppo India's chief marketing officer gets candid on speaking five languages, his three focus areas for Oppo, and following the brand's mantra of 'doing the right things and doing things right'.

The CMO's MO: Damyant Khanoria on 'risk-taking' and sustainability in the smartphone space

The CMO's MO: 9 questions with dynamic marketing leaders, insights and personalities revealed. 

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The CMO’s MO (modus operandi), spotlights top CMOs and gives the readers a chance to learn about the challenges they’re facing, plans to tackle those, what keeps them up at night and fun trivia. The idea is to highlight the person and personality behind the title.
Introducing Damyant Khanoria, chief marketing officer, Oppo India as the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer headquartered in Guangdong completes a decade in India. Khanoria also delves into ‘risk-taking’ and ‘fostering innovation’ to stay ahead of the curve.
What are the three biggest opportunities for your brand?
Given our brand journey in India, our key areas of focus are—premiumisation, deepening community engagement and humanising technology. Oppo has been in India for nine years. Over 100 million consumers use our products every day and as we continue investing and growing, we are making the big bets. 
What needs to change in your industry when it comes to working culture?
The tech industry over the last two decades has been lauded for being the torch-bearers of pushing an inclusive, open and creative work culture. Our industry has been the epitome of what workplaces of the future should look like. And while this is still largely true, Tech is also a hyper-competitive, intense and unforgiving industry. Work hours can be long and there is really no downtime unless one is self-aware and deliberate in managing the work-life balance. So that would really be the first area to reflect on and address. 
Diversity is another aspect that I feel we must address. While ‘women in tech’ has been spoken about widely for a while, the representation of women is still low.  Gender and regional diversity is critical for brands to get a broader range of perspectives. And let's not forget to incorporate regional languages and influencers in our communication – that'll make our brands more accessible and understood.
The other area I feel we can get better at is empowering the youngsters who are joining the industry. 18 to 25-year-olds are our core target audience. The ground zero of our marketing efforts. If we want to be relevant and authentic to this audience, it's critical we support and amplify the voices and ideas of young people on our teams. Encourage them to share their perspectives and shape the work with their sense of where culture is at. Let them exercise and build their gut instinct. At Oppo, we believe we need to take risks if we want to stand out. One of the ways we do this here is by backing the instincts of the youngsters.   
At the 2023 UEFA Champions League Finals with his son
Give us one example to convince our readers that your brand is walking the talk on sustainability.
Achieving sustainability in the smartphone industry is essential for minimising its environmental, social, and economic impacts. Take Oppo’s Battery Health Engine (BHE), for example. This technology can keep a battery running at over 80% of its original capacity after as many as 1,600 charge cycles, making batteries equipped with the OPPO BHE the world’s longest-lasting in terms of battery lifespan. Not only does this help aid in battery care each day, but it also helps reduce pollution and long-term environmental damage caused by discarded lithium batteries.
What do you feel separates your brand culture from others?
We are all about fostering innovation at all levels at Oppo. We have an environment where colleagues are encouraged to think outside the box, challenge the status quo and express themselves. And we do this whilst following the Benfen principle. Translated loosely, Benfen is about 'doing the right things and doing things right'. This is the best representation of the brand culture at Oppo.
With Liverpool FC legends Michael Owen and Luis Garcia at an OPPO event
Complete the sentence: “Today’s CMO must be ….”.
Curious. As Steve Jobs famously said, “stay hungry, stay foolish, stay curious”. I think it’s the best way to remind ourselves that our journeys as individuals and professionals are most fulfilling when we never stop learning. Curiosity is contagious and it ripples through our teams—inspiring them to do their absolute best.
What kind of a CMO are you? Answer using a maximum of three adjectives. 
Innovative. Courageous. Tenacious.
Tell us one personal thing about yourself that others might not know.
I have a knack for languages and can speak five: Hindi, English, Nepali, Punjabi and Kangri. Fluency is in that order. 
What’s your favourite brand campaign that you participated in or wish you had?

I love Amnesty International's 'Signatures' campaign. I was stunned by the simplicity of the idea and how it showcased solutions to very complex human rights issues. The core message, "Your signatures have power," reminded me of our potential to create change. The ad is moving and is a clarion call for action.  

Name another brand (can’t be yours) with an amazing customer experience that you really admire. Why is it great?
I love everything Patagonia stands for. They have amazing products but what makes them truly special is how they prioritise purpose over profit. And this isn’t marketing. It's deeply embedded in what you experience at a Patagonia store. They run a program called ‘worn wear’ which basically allows consumers to trade in, repair and buy used Patagonia gear. As their website will tell you, 85% of clothing ends up in landfills or gets incinerated. The best way to break this cycle is by buying less, repairing more and trading in gear when you no longer need it. It’s such a profound way of looking at a brand and business. Walking into a Patagonia store and having them repair a broken zipper instead of someone trying to sell you a new jacket. It’s the kind of 'amazing' Earth needs right now.


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