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: 07/01/2022

    Where robots fit into the online grocery store ops equation

    It will be interesting to see what happens with ideas like this. I've just discovered we have a Safeway curbside/delivery store (no shopping) opening in our neighborhood. Competing with the store paid shoppers in the aisles is frustrating — so Safeway is apparently testing something new. Yet, I don't see it working out well. In part, the economics are always against e-commerce — assuming stores continue to attempt to deliver e-commerce for the same low prices as going to the store to shop. My expectation is that our new local store will, within 2 years, either close or convert back to a traditional store. But time will tell.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2022

    Should more retailers aim for their customers’ funny bones?

    Yes. It's about human and about offering something meaningful. I've always been struck by how there's research which says "all things being equal" consumers remember funny ads best. What's never observed is things are NEVER equal in the marketplace. What experience shows is true is that offering truly human value outperforms any arbitrary idea about "best" ad formats. That said, in the 1970s there was an idea that "if you have nothing to say, sing it." Perhaps today the idea is "if you can't dig deeply enough to have something to say, make a joke."
  • Posted on: 06/30/2022

    Marketers are still trying to figure out women’s sports 50 years after Title IX

    No one should expect that sponsorships for women's sports will return value the same way as men's sports. Yes. Advertisers should invest in women's sports. The challenge is, at what level? There is finally growing excitement for viewing women's sports yet viewership remains below viewing of men's sports. From what I've seen, women's sports are a passion for those who are engaged with them but the number engaged is smaller than men's sports. Given that, advertisers need to allocate their budgets responsibly - sometimes finding an opportunity to stand out by sponsoring these new sports and sports figures but always staying aware of the limitations which come from a culture which embraces them differently than men's sports are embraced.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2022

    Will consumers become even more frugal post-pandemic?

    The pandemic has been an emergent event throughout - where predictions have been a fool's game. That truth continues as the pandemic eases. As a result, I'm suspicious of any broad based theories about how consumers might change. Retailers need to stay focused on finding products customers will value, presenting them well in their stores, and delivering them with good service. This is not a point where I recommend big bets on theories about a changed consumer.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2022

    Retail workers want the right to defend themselves

    Is the right to defend oneself against a violent customer something for retailers to "give"? One would think it's a fundamental human right. I suppose what's meant here is that retailers would cede some rights to fire people who do defend themselves. Store employee perception can be incorrect leading some to "defend" when they aren't in danger. That said, retailers need to support employees more and quit seeing them as pawns or cannon fodder. I would suspect if front line employees were offered more fundamental human respect in their daily work, this would be less of an issue. What respect? Stop. Punishing. Employees. For. Store. Ratings. Store ratings are primarily not within the control of the employee.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2022

    Will a gas tax holiday drive retail in the right direction?

    It's a nice assist. Will it buy enough time for retailers to sort out better ways forward while also allowing gas prices to adjust back down (nothing is forever after all)? We shall see. Smart retailers will make use of it and thrive.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2022

    What worked at Target didn’t work for Mark Tritton at Bed Bath & Beyond

    The idea that success at Target (an existing strong store with excellent brand and merchandise) would deliver success at Bed Bath & Beyond (a store, struggling to build an identity other than "cheap" and "cluttered") is probably the most common error in hiring. Past success is no indicator of future success. Yet boards make this mistake constantly. This situation seems like a less dramatic version of the Ron Johnson/J.C. Penney's hire. In that hire, somehow it was lost on all involved that the success of Apple stores came from Apple products — so Johnson's experience failed to include anything really useful for J.C. Penney. I know we need heroic semi-celebrity CEO hires to support the stock price. But they deliver far less structural value than boards hope.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2022

    ThredUP asks consumers to boycott Shein’s pop-up shop

    This communication might seem valuable to a subset of shoppers and send the rest to Shein. Bad idea.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2022

    Can in-store coffee add pep to retail sales?

    The value of this is less about "caffeine" than about how customers like to shop. Nothing makes shopping more comfortable than a warm drink, kids with a treat, and only making one store visit instead of two (one to get your drink separate). For years we've shopped at a Target with a Starbucks inside. Saturday morning trips became more of a ritual than they would have been without that cuppa joe.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2022

    Retailers tell their customers to keep their returns

    The math may add up, but this is a horrible idea as it trains consumers to believe your products are of throwaway quality. I suppose doing this with a rare item can work, but to make it a regular occurrence will bring yet more disaster onto retailers. If the retailer doesn't show respect to its products, why would anyone expect a customer to believe they are worth buying? As a mathematician, it's critical to remember that math reflects only a narrow dimension of the world.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2022

    Are mall shoppers hungry for in-stock data?

    Fully agree. This is potentially a very useful tool. Whether it can be maintained at the level needed so that customers find it useful is an open question. At this point, we have plenty of examples of online inventories which are good and those which are hopelessly out of date. My core question, though, is whether customers would go to the shopping center app to check inventory. We've been training them for decades to expect the store to hold that information. And, to be honest, most shopping centers don't carry that kind of validity in customer minds. Will be interesting to see what happens.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2022

    Has online grocery shopping hit its sales ceiling?

    There's no question in my mind that online grocery sales will retreat from here. Without a pandemic, it can be a useful tool for no more than a minority of consumers — perhaps 5 percent to 10 percent.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2022

    Should Instacart discard shopper ratings from chronically grumpy customers?

    The NPS based rating systems should be discarded altogether. But if they can't do that yet, this is a good step forward. But chronically grumpy? Someone who rates service only 4 out of 5? Ridiculous. That 4.7 rating minimum for batch is absurd.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2022

    Convenience stores need to automate or get left behind

    History shows it is unlikely that these fast delivery operations will survive. And, at most, if they survive it will have to be only in the urban core of our largest cities. My recommendation for convenience stores: don't get sucked in by the hype. Instead, stay focused on delivering the value which matters most to customers. Retail has already lost a decade with online store obsession. Don't fall for the tendency to believe headlines paid for by VCs.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2022

    Is Best Buy’s home pickup recycling service worth the price?

    This is a solid program. Added to a purchase, $199 is a small price to pay for them to take away the old ones and recycle them. Good for Best Buy.

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