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: 07/31/2020

    Pandemic ‘fast-forwarded everything’ for nation’s largest cannabis retailer

    It’s too bad we had 50 years of anti-marijuana political efforts which built this opposition in society to even fundamentally smart things. That a marijuana retailers cannot use traditional banking is one of the clearest evidences of how badly we’ve messed this one up. Unfortunately, the opposition to changes remains strong in circles where any contact with marijuana is seen as a religious issue. That makes me a skeptic about how well society will accept and regulate marijuana sales – thus losing the tremendous social benefits which come from removing this drug from illegal distribution and the social ills which accompany the illegality.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2020

    Will axing commission fees entice Amazon sellers to move to Google Shopping?

    Google’s failure isn’t due to commission fees — so this is unlikely to have much impact. Rather, Google simply hasn’t shown that they can deliver sellers the economic power that Amazon does. It’s too bad. Sellers desperately need a strong alternative to Amazon for online sales — today’s dominance leaves them at Amazon’s mercy for increased fees, competition from big brands as they intrude in Amazon deals, rejection of their goods, and Amazon choosing to compete with them.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2020

    Nov. 2021: How should retail plan for a return to normal?

    This is tough planning. Over the next 15 months consumer demand for goods will continue to move against past demand -- so it will continue to be difficult to order with the usual 6-9 month lead time to include shipping by boat. At the same time, retailers who choose not to take a risk on inventory will also lose the opportunity to gain the profits from pandemic era shopping. I don’t think it’s an issue of planning for the worst. Rather, plan to take advantage of opportunities while controlling the risk that’s taken to be within reason.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2020

    Beauty becomes a digital beast

    The key factor I’d be watching for in beauty is whether/when customers again become comfortable with testers and with up close and personal engagement with the beauty reps. I am concerned that we will find a caution among consumers which will last far longer than the pandemic — leading former beauty sales methods to continue to struggle. Can digital replace these? Not for the very long term. But it will be more critical than normal for the next one to five years.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2020

    Is a drive-through-only store the shape of things to come for Wawa?

    This seems like an idea where the concept will be far better than the reality. Convenience stores serve a wide range of customer speeds — from someone running in to pick up a pack of cigarettes to an entire family spending time choosing their candy for a later movie. Retailers need to stay focused on the hybrid — some curbside service along with safe in-store shopping.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2020

    What didn’t Jeff Bezos know and when didn’t he know it?

    Amazon is no longer the naive startup which can get away with “I don’t know” as an answer. It should concern us all that Mr. Bezos attempted to use that answer to deflect questions he knew were critical.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2020

    Retailers hunt for spare change

    Communication is the issue. Retailers don’t need to make big statements. All they need to do is put small signs at each cash register saying “We need coins! Thanks for helping out.” People like to help — especially in a crisis like today’s COVID-19 pandemic. There aren’t many things we can do about the pandemic. But we can help with coins. Just ask.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2020

    Will Amazon become the go-to place to buy face masks?

    Amazon may be a bit late to the market. We seem to be in a position to need masks for quite a while, but the initial surge in sales is past and volumes should be settling down. Were Amazon to pursue this, though, they should follow the lead of other retailers and emphasize complete safety — with sanitizers, oximeters, thermometers, and other COVID-19 related goods.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2020

    How can retailers differentiate curbside delivery?

    I have not been impressed with curbside delivery. Whether at large shops or small shops, I’ve found it clunky. So the biggest gain would be to deliver exactly what curbside implies. I’ve also found too many retail food shops which required advanced online orders — yet made their websites nearly impossible to navigate on the phone to sort out how to order. Curbside “surprise and delight” is all about delivery on the details.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    What can you learn about ecommerce sales driving on the NJ Turnpike?

    I think you also saw why Amazon’s online sales deliver no profit — as any remaining money was driving down the NJ Turnpike. After all, Walmart trucks were likely filled with pallets of goods simply distributed to two or three locations. Each of those huge Amazon trucks was filled (if they’re e-commerce trucks) with goods which would be delivered to several hundred individual homes one at a time.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    Neiman Marcus launches digital hub to bring the in-store experience online

    This is one of the apparently good approaches to merging online and stores. What I’d like to see is for Neiman Marcus to remain focused on getting people into stores — all evidence shows that store visits are most profitable. So preparing customers for a store visit? Exceptional assuming that they deliver enough value that consumers are using this service in increasing numbers.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    Has retail adaptation become more about survival than competitive edge?

    I doubt we will see anything approaching “normal” until either the novel coronavirus mutates to cause a less deadly disease, we get an effective vaccine, or it runs its course (the worst of the three). No retailer should put itself in survivor mode during this time, though. Retail success continues to depend on delivering to customers goods they need while introducing them to interesting new goods they weren’t aware of. The difference during the pandemic is what consumers need and the things that interest them are of a very different focus than normal.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2020

    Retailers need to reorganize like a 21st century business

    There is change coming among retailers — and much of it will end up being economically healthy for them. But I’m concerned with the idea that “micro fulfillment centers” will reduce costs. It’s economically illogical to associate small with lower cost. Perhaps there’s a new way to group smaller fulfillment centers (a la Walmart’s initial innovations) that could be effective. But Walmart succeeded because their version of small stores allowed them to enter communities where they had no major competition. Perhaps underlying this article is an assumption that “free shipping” is the way of the future. Let’s use this opportunity, instead, to set up a rationalized retail — where consumers pay for premium services instead of having them thrown at them for free.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2020

    Will COVID-19 bludgeon Halloween sales?

    I am expecting a major impact on Halloween spend. That said, those wanting to make good money this year will focus on “inside the bubble home Halloween parties.” Consumers will be out of ideas for keeping the kids entertained as we enter the darkest part of the year.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2020

    Are boycotts becoming bigger risks?

    At this time, there’s incredible frustration in U.S. society. In part I believe the frustration comes because polarization leads us to be unable to trust that when the party we don’t like is in office, we’ll still be okay coming out the other end. So people are LOOKING for something to be able to do “here and now” to make a difference. Boycotts give people the ability to do something and feel like they are trying to make the future better or punish those they disagree with. So it makes complete sense that boycotts exist. But they are a result of political dysfunction — not the solution to it.

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