As Marketing and Communications Director, Manoj Khilnani is responsible for managing and leading strategy, brand and communications for Qualcomm, Asia Pacific and India. With over 18 years of experience across sectors such as Telecom, IT, Tourism and Automobiles, he has played a key role in launching CDMA technology in India for multiple brands.

What can brands do to keep up with customer experiences and expectations?

One, set expectations/goals/objectives; two, set the process/method/steps; three, align teams to objectives and processes, and four, ensure transparency within the teams.

Good customer experience has always been a differentiator ever since brands came into existence. Digital combined with future technologies like AI can augment customer engagement making customer experience more personal. The simplest example is an e-commerce brand asking you for a convenient day/time of delivery for a product and then allowing you to track your package.

How can brands be successful and continue their growth trajectory?

#1 Innovation is key while bringing a new product to the market. Today, there are umpteen examples of services like Uber and how it has changed the way we commute. Take Swiggy – the way we not only order food but also experience several cuisines.

#2 Knowing your customers – today companies need to go beyond the demographics and psychographics to map the needs and wants of their customers and accordingly match their offerings.

#3 Continue investing in innovation or rather disruption – there is no such thing like a perfect product/service so continuously finding ways to disrupt the market and better offerings can help companies stay ahead in the game.

#4 Be visible where it is relevant – carpet bombing or air cover is no longer the game to be in.

#5 Be accessible – in the age of social and digital media, customers should have access to your brand and information 24x7 through various channels that can help them make choices easily.

#6 Develop a personality – would you like to be identified as an innovator or a disruptor brand? End of the day customers come from different backgrounds and different personalities. Having a personality that resonates with the customers’ mindset helps drive conversations and connect easily.

Have young consumers changed the dynamics of brand and marketing?

The way the youth approach business and marketing has been more pragmatic than idealistic. They are essentially digital first natives, who like to engage with brands which reflect their values strongly. The Ps in marketing today have a strong association to their beliefs, values and they like that to be mirrored whether they are promoting or purchasing a brand.

The Internet is at the heart of this change whether it was disseminating information earlier through laptops/desktops and over the last 5-6 years through data networks on our smartphones. The accessibility of information 24x7 powered by the internet on smartphones has been the biggest driver. Messaging apps today have had a huge influence on the way the youth interact with individuals and brands. These generations have essentially grown with the internet and multi-screens (smartphone, TV, laptops, tablets, wearables) hence, a good combination of digital + social is a good strategy. We need to think mobile-first as that is the screen they are glued to most part of the day be it for productive or entertainment purpose.

The winning element – better technology or the better idea?

For a horse to win the race, you also need an experienced jockey, pretty much sums up the approach for a marketplace as well. Personally, a good idea backed by better technology is what is required in today’s marketplace to make an impact.

Your take on brands going hyperlocal and how does Qualcomm look at this?

It is important to set a context before we arrive at a conclusion. Many brands today have carefully and smartly used data sets to arrive at product/service decisions which have helped them reduce costs by getting the right product mix for markets like India.

The digital revolution has given us a tremendous opportunity not only to think local but also to execute locally. Localisation is important for improved reach and to ensure adoption across different audiences. One example that highlights this approach is car rentals; knowing how a community commutes, the traffic and road conditions, the brand can have smaller cars for city commutes instead of SUVs and tailor messaging around ‘Smart Mobility’ for that area/city.

We at Qualcomm are an ingredient brand and for us the approach to any market is based on the decisions that partners plan and execute. For the consumer engagement part, we heavily rely on social platforms to engage and educate end-users around our new mobile platforms and future technologies.

This article is part of a brand initiative by The Hindu BusinessLine to profile marketing professionals from across India.