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Karuna Rawal at Elevation Summit 2015

Arc/Leo Burnett EVP, Business Lead Karuna Rawal is a featured keynote speaker at this year’s Elevation Summit. The conference, held on August 21 in Denver, is a one-day event featuring nine presentations on future retailing and game-changing business insights.

Karuna’s presentation, “Must-See Innovations – A Collection of the Best for 2015,” will reveal the best-of-the-best retail innovations for 2015 and show how manufacturers and retailers are actively engaging with shoppers in new and exciting ways.

We caught up with Karuna for a sneak peek into her presentation and to learn more about the Elevation Summit 2015.


Hello, Karuna! Can you give us a little overview of your presentation, “Must-See Innovations – A Collection of the Best for 2015”?
The presentation highlights some of the unique innovations that retailers and manufacturers are using to connect and engage with shoppers. I'll focus in on the smart, new and emerging technology that drives stronger shopper engagement with interesting examples from a variety of industries and retailers.

Can you share with us a consumer packaged goods example of a “must-see innovation” that you think is particularly brilliant?
I think there are several, but one I would highlight is Old Spice's Instagram account where the app’s tag features and capabilities are used to enable shoppers to create a "Choose Your Own Social Adventure" about the brand. By actively clicking on the tags, Old Spice is creatively leveraging the technology to encourage participation, which will drive a deeper and more personalized experience for their shoppers. This “social adventure” is an innovation that will likely extend and surpass the user’s average time visiting the brand’s page. “Choose Your Own Adventure” received about double the likes and comments compared with Old Spice’s other content. Old Spice has clearly shown that they understand the importance of Instagram as an emerging platform for brands and that people will engage when offered a personalized visual experience — that to me is particularly brilliant.

Certainly these innovations are incredibly unique, but do they share anything in common? What is the one factor that unifies these examples as best-of-the-best in retail?
To me, the use of technology to deliver an enhanced experience for the shopper across multiple touchpoints is the key theme across all of these innovations. Because we live in a “meCommerce” world where shoppers are in control, delivering a great experience is vital. Whether it's through Jim Beam's in-bar virtual reality experience, Pinterest's buyable pins that reduce the barriers to sale, or Digital Factory's geolocation-specific offers and content, we are seeing creativity and technology used to deliver aspirational experiences for shoppers. Because the shopper’s journey is made up of multiple touchpoints, it’s important to not only treat each touchpoint as an opportunity, but to also make sure each opportunity is a memorable experience. These examples have all achieved influential and successful activation plans by combining creativity and technology to create a remarkable experience that shoppers have never seen before.

How can retailers utilize innovative technologies to battle and win against their online competitors?
Most importantly, retailers need to look at technology as an enabler vs. the end in itself. Understanding the total shopper journey and how technology can be used in-store to enhance the shoppers' experience through every step of their journey is critical. By using technology to deliver a personal customized shopping experience for individual shoppers and uncovering insights around all the “micro-moments" that Google talks about is what will help retailers win. At the end of the day, the reality is that 93% of sales still go through a physical store so retailers need to creatively leverage technology to drive conversion and loyalty.

What advice do you have for conference attendees who are looking to actively keep up with the latest retail trends and innovations?
There are so many innovations happening at retail that it can be tough to keep up, so it's important to find ways to curate all that content. My favorites include the PSFK newsletter, Mashable and most importantly, attending key industry conferences such as EuroShop and other retail conferences where you can see and touch the innovations. Also, our LBSparc lab at Arc/Leo Burnett is an evolving curated collection of the latest and greatest out there—which you can follow by visiting