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: 06/04/2020

    Do mobile shoppers disclose more valuable data about themselves?

    Clearly there is different value in data collected from smartphone use. This paper over-states that value, though. We cannot presume to believe what they suggest: “Implications for marketers include that smartphone-generated content may be more indicative of how consumers actually think and feel.” If we’ve learned anything from tracked/observed data it’s that what’s NOT revealed is far more critical than what IS revealed. There are few practical implications from this — it’s interesting to ponder, but not going to make anyone profitable.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2020

    Walmart sells inclusivity at its annual shareholder meeting

    We should hope that corporations respond to these problems by re-embracing the role Johnson and Johnson outlined in their credo: Customers first; employees and communities; and finally investors. This world has been upside down for far too long. Has Walmart taken a good first step? Only time will tell.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2020

    Will retailers pass along or eat COVID-19 shipping surcharges?

    Another thought: The only way to establish a healthy retail market coming out of the pandemic is to establish an honest one. And that means honesty about costs as well as honesty about retailers having serious value they offer customers.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2020

    Will retailers pass along or eat COVID-19 shipping surcharges?

    Retailers need to pass along these surcharges. Let’s face it. Direct to consumer shipping and selling at mass market size is unprofitable. Unfortunately, Amazon’s investor supported undercutting of retail has raised expectations among consumers that ship-to-home is cheap — when it’s not. If retailers want to emerge from the pandemic healthy (and consumers WANT them to emerge healthy), then they need to obey economics and pass along the surcharges. It boggles my mind that somehow we are giving companies free rein to lose massive amounts of money as long as they are getting new customers. For a healthy retail economy, we need to charge what it costs.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Lowe’s ‘virtually’ goes on the job for home improvement pros

    There’s no question that the job of estimating and planning is difficult for pros. But the people I know who thrive in delivering pro services rely heavily on yellow notepads augmented by pictures and video.... What is critical in all this is to recognize the completeness of information a pro gets from visiting the site and looking most things up themselves – they are far far better prepared. Only in the physical space can the pro notice something obscure in an out of the way place with the homeowner would miss and which would stop the job down for hours or days.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Can outdoor dining save restaurants?

    Outdoor dining is a smart response to the pandemic problems. And let’s hope that some of the new outdoor spaces remain in place long after the pandemic. But will it remain a prominent feature of restaurants? I doubt it. Few restaurants have good access to sufficient outdoor space to make it an important feature. And let’s get clear on how few restaurants reside in locations with the weather and space to make it a long term profit bonus. Skepticism aside ... Restaurants SHOULD consider how an outdoor space draws attention to their location — it’s a type of advertising which can bring some vitality to their image. There are likely quite a few who can break even on their outdoor dining AND get a boost in revenue from their traditional business when outdoor remains.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Is the future of retailing going dark?

    I’m skeptical of the dark store strategy. I’m also skeptical of how much we should expect survival tactics for the pandemic are “the way of the future.” At present, apart from groceries, I’ve not found curbside pickup OR home delivery tremendously valuable. What I hope retailers take away from the pandemic isn’t a mad scramble to create tactically difficult and strategically low-value services. Retailers seeking to set themselves up for the future will focus on creating important reasons why consumers will want to visit their stores.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Is the REI/West Elm collaboration a win-win?

    Oof. I think this is a very bad idea. REI is not a picnic brand — they are an outdoor brand. And it is wrong for REI to water down their ruggedness through connection to West Elm and for products which depart from what we expect of the REI brand. How will it do for West Elm? Probably fine — it makes their brand richer while making the REI brand poorer. Why would REI agree to this? A bad misstep for a first brand extension outside of the REI store.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Is it safe to bring back food sampling?

    It is incumbent on stores to give out clear signals about how they are making food sampling safe. It must not be brought back to “just the way it was.” What things can they do? The list above gives a good start on possible changes. But in everything stores do they need to be aware that they are being watched closely for signs that they understand the new world which has be thrust upon us all. And they need to lead in re-opening safely.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Retail ensnared in nationwide protests

    Shall I observe that Amazon has been remarkably quiet? And one thing we should learn from this is that retail stores are part of community and play a major role in American culture. It does not make logical sense that they would be targeted in these riots. But note that it’s to stores that people turn in their anger. Rory Sutherland, in his book Alchemy, talks about the importance of those consumer actions which are non-sense (as opposed nonsense) and which are psycho-logical (as opposed to psychological) to understand people. Seeing today's chaos through this lens, what’s going on reflects the intimacy and importance of stores in their communities. It is important that stores do a better job of reflecting their importance to community and neighborhood than happens in this day when “efficiency” is valued over “effectiveness.”
  • Posted on: 05/18/2020

    Would an Uber/Grubhub merger be good for restaurant meal delivery?

    I can’t see any way that an Uber/Grubhub merger is good for restaurants. The fee structures they have created — while misleading consumers to believe that it shouldn’t cost much to get food hand delivered to their home — are punitive to restaurants. We can predict it would only get worse when too much power is consolidated in one company. A few weeks back I wrote a blog post pondering why these new “tech flavored” efforts like UberEats or GrubHub are based on the idea of delivering premium service at a discount price. Is it possible there simply isn’t demand unless they lose money? If this is true, it’s fake demand and not a market with value to be served.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2020

    Pandemic stresses retail HR departments

    No question HR is stressed by what’s going on. However I caution against all this automation excitement. For example, screening employees for “most likely to succeed” systems are faux AI. While they can implement algorithms, there is no realistic way to train those algorithms and AI only works when feedback can show whether decisions were right or wrong. With employment, there’s no way to ever know that someone you rejected “should have been hired.” It’s impossible. As a result, these are only half implemented — and missing the half which is most critical to getting the systems to become fair and accurate. Step carefully and wisely in these areas.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2020

    Should grocers keep paying their associates like heroes?

    A great article came out over the weekend. And it indicates that while shoppers are likely quite safe, store help are the ones running the risk of getting sick. Until that’s no longer the case, combat pay should continue. And I highly recommend this article which summarized hard research into physical situations where COVID-19 passes.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    What has made Walmart a shutdown star?

    Is it possible we can learn Amazon’s weaknesses through what’s happening right now? Amazon brilliantly manages its PR and growth to give the appearance of an unassailable behemoth. Yet my own experience with Amazon right now is that even pandemic related goods are promised and not delivered — because Amazon has no control over sellers to ensure quality of service. When we rate company performance and contribution to society after this is all over, I expect we’ll find that Walmart, Kroger and Target have been the true retail heroes of the pandemic — despite a lot of initial hype suggesting this would be the final nail in the coffin of everyone except Amazon.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    We probably can’t ever eliminate the renegades. But the first step to controlling them starts outside the store. When I visited Target on Saturday and stood in a (socially distanced) line with others waiting to get in, Target had clearly established calm control of the situation. When I go to a store where nothing happens outside the store then people are expected to “behave” inside, it’s a recipe for conflict.

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