Doug Garnett

President, Protonik

Doug Garnett has spent his career with innovation and is an expert on using marketing to increase ROI for ground breaking consumer products distributed through online and retail outlets. Doug is the founder and President of Protonik, LLC — a consultancy focused on the unusual marketing needs of innovative products and services. Protonik works with manufacturers, brands, inventors, and retailers.

Prior to forming Protonik, Doug spent 20 years as founder and CEO of ad agency Atomic Direct. Atomic leveraged TV across all ranges of broadcast, cable and web to drive sales. Atomic’s work covered a wide range of products, but had particularly specialty with home, hardware and automotive products.

Doug taught for 13 years in the business school at Portland State University. He writes and speaks regularly about the unique challenges facing companies when they attempt to use innovative products to create demand and build brand. In addition to his role with the RetailWire BrainTrust, he is a member of the BWG Advisory board, the Response Magazine advisory board, author of the book “Building Brands with Direct Response Television,” and can be followed on Twitter @AtomicAdMan.

Doug started as a mathematician at aerospace giant General Dynamics where he worked on the Atlas-Centaur launch vehicles, the Space Shuttle, and the Tomahawk Cruise Missile program. He spent 5 years in marketing and sales of scientific supercomputers before finding his true home — in advertising for retail products. Doug has worked with Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores, Rubbermaid, AT&T, DisneyMobile, AAA of California, The Joint Chiropractic, Professional Tool Manufacturing (Drill Doctor), Kreg Tools, P&G, Apple Computer, Sears, Braun, DuPont (Teflon, Stainmaster), and Hamilton Beach.

  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Is Amazon on its way to becoming America’s favorite grocer?

    Agreed. At the same time, Amazon never hesitates to create an impression of "we changed everything" regardless of whether it's really true. :-) But the survey work isn't from Amazon — I'm just amazed at many people don't really notice that a "most" headline can be achieved while they're not really that important in grocery. Also interested in your thoughts. Looking at the survey details, some things suggest care with this RPI. Kroger rates 25th on their list — yet it is continually improving according to their stores. Yet the Kroger share of grocer is quite large. Statista shows Kroger with 10% share and Walmart with 25% share — and they are the two largest in 2017. That year, Target's share is 1.4%. If RPI is reliable, then it must "predict" — but I don't see evidence that's happening. Is it connected to true market growth or simply a new metric that's interesting to consider? Haven't worked with it enough to know.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Which emerging tech will transform marketing this year?

    I expect 2021 to be a technologically bland year. Once again, we will be shown shiny baubles (like drone delivery) but the real improvement only comes through hard work and dedication. Where is the best opportunity? Turning your stores into places consumers WANT to shop. And retailers will have an opportunity coming out of the pandemic to have refreshed their stores and made them places people want to be — not just because they are bored at home. Notice, though, that technology is subservient to delivering value to the customer. And nothing in the list above excites me as playing a major role in building value for the shopper.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    7-Elevens could be destined to undergo a konbinification

    There is clearly room for U.S. convenience to grasp their increased importance for shopping (as opposed to gasoline) and develop specific services which consumers value within a convenience store. Japan, however, has a far different relationship between geography (small) and store — making the convenience format one we should expect to be different in Japan. It’s good that 7-Eleven is experimenting and I wish them well identifying important added products and services. That said, don’t mess with the Slurpee!
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Is Amazon on its way to becoming America’s favorite grocer?

    Yet another Amazon “false narrative.” The vast majority of Americans live in the physical world and purchase groceries in the physical world from a wide variety of stores — usually not even aware that their local store (say Ralphs) is owned by the national chain Kroger. In steps Amazon, which is a full national chain known for online sales. The idea that Amazon would get the lion’s share of online grocery purchases is no surprise — they get the bulk of ALL online purchases. However are they a “favorite?” Not in one million years. Most Americans (like 80 percent) prefer to shop in a store — but that preference is spread across hundreds of brands, many local. The result is Amazon gets the vast bulk of the remaining 20 percent (say 10 percent) and no single store brand gets 10 percent. But the cumulative value of “anywhere but Amazon” is where America’s favorite way to shop lies — and that is decidedly NOT Amazon.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    Walmart to deliver groceries to temp-controlled smart boxes at customers’ homes

    How many ways can retailers find to pay customers to accept home delivery? The home delivery market simply won’t end up big enough (after the pandemic) to justify all these costs added on top of delivery costs. There’s a train wreck coming — and as usual Amazon’s deep pockets are taunting retailers into mistakes. Take a deep breath and focus on core business. That’s where true long term strength is to be found.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Do sampled freebies drive loyalty?

    This study is quite confused. First, offering storage with the purchase of a mobile device is not sampling. So what the study tested was a sweetened offer to attract new customers. There are literally decades of field experience with executing these offers — so we already know a lot about the relative value. Then, it makes a conclusion about new customers that is wrong. Byron Sharp’s work (and that of others) makes it clear that the healthiest brand is also the brand that has the most new customers. This also leads to the truth that bringing in new customers is your most important step for brand health. That doesn’t mean ignoring existing customers or to stop wanting to increase purchases from all customers. There’s a study of 6 years of Dove sales. The 80% of customers who purchased once a year or LESS generated over HALF of Dove’s revenue. This is consistent with Ehrenberg’s Law of Double Jeopardy in marketing. Weiner Snijders writes about the study here.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Will becoming a fintech powerhouse make Walmart an even more formidable retailer?

    Yes, this appears to be smart for Walmart. But I don’t see any evidence it goes beyond that. The idea that it’s “tech driven” is yet another example of shiny bauble distraction. Putting banking in the store is a tremendous convenience for customers. The idea that this is a disruptive force? Seems Walmart is trying to copy Amazon’s approach to press releases — just make it sound hyped.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Convenience retailers aren’t letting the pandemic get them down

    For things to continue differently after the pandemic convenience stores need to develop something deeper than their pre-existing offering— something adding new value. I don’t see that happening in general. That said, I can imagine specific stores in specific areas using this opportunity to expand their offering where they find a sweet spot with customers.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    What will drive consumer tech sales in 2021?

    I expect that 2021 will continue to see good levels of sales — especially if optimism returns with the vaccination programs. On the other hand, we are in a tremendously dull time for tech. Most everything we know we need is easily available and relatively inexpensive. TVs, headsets, computers, tablets, phones, and all the surrounding systems and gadgetry? Done. So while 2021 may be good, I expect it’s several years before a “next big thing” comes on the market to re-energize tech sales.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    Did Amazon Pantry outlive its usefulness?

    I do not think this is outdated — Amazon just finally accepted it’s a very bad way to sell goods to consumers when online. Imagine — it’s hard enough to envision making good use of something like this when you can hold and heft and size the things you’re selecting. Now, try to do that online? THEN, let’s ask: How much real advantage to Amazon would this have provided? It’s minor and tiny. Tiny consumer value plus tiny value to the merchant? Time to close it down.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    Retailers give customers refunds and tell them to keep items

    Will this end up making the waste of online buying even higher? We’re already fighting plenty of environmental problems from online purchases. Still, this is no surprise. Although we have finally seen reasonable writing around the difficult expenses of returns, it is an issue which has been ignored for far too long. That said, if this policy becomes widespread, it’s also a way of spreading unwanted things across society. And that also can’t be good for us. What happens when the customer is told to keep that unwanted thing? My father-in-law once was sent 2,000 shaker pegs when he had ordered 20. Some might think “great!” Let me assure you, it wasn’t. There was an obligation attached to figure how to get rid of them.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2020

    Should retail CEOs be on social media?

    There are more drawbacks to CEOs being on social media than benefits. The company BRAND is what needs to be active in communication. Customers really don’t care what the CEO has to say — and CEOs are rarely well trained to say it in ways that might build business. As a result, we tend to get harsh sounding bureaucratese from most CEOs. My advice for any CEO is to stay away UNLESS there’s an exceptional reason to believe they can do some good for the brand.
  • Posted on: 12/22/2020

    Do retailer TikTok campaigns tick the right boxes?

    There is, at this time, no evidence anywhere that TikTok works. Yes, we are told about the cranberry deal — but it's too early to know if all the buzz had any serious effect. There is no need to rush madly after this shiny bauble. If it's serious, in 2 years we'll know WHY it's serious and HOW to use it. At this point, no one knows either so it's generally a waste of money to rush off after TikTok ( we did after Vine, and Groupon, and Pokemon, and any of a thousand other shiny baubles in the past 15 years).
  • Posted on: 12/22/2020

    Is free at-home pick-up of online returns practicable?

    Might be time to take up basketweaving since all our training and experience in business is ignored so easily. Yes, customers would like this — they always rush for free giveaways. That's lovely except anyone who rushes to a giveaway is usually a very low value customer. So... No, it's not feasible and Walmart is making a mistake to discuss it at all.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2020

    Commercials show the magic behind good deeds and Christmas surprises

    The thing I've found with "residual" is that for it to have an impact, the brand needs to be clear in what we remember about the ad. It's not really in either of these. Certainly I don't expect them to be "selling" — but reminder ads work when we remember what we were reminded about. Neither of these do that. We recall the story quite well — but it doesn't end up economically effective. Or in other words, Byron Sharp observes we need to create "mental availability" with ads like these. I don't think they do that.

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