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: 06/06/2019

    Ace Hardware and True Value satisfy customers, Home Depot not so much

    Absolutely. I first picked it up from Byron Sharp. :-)
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Stores have cut out-of-stocks. Why don’t consumers know that?

    There’s another perception issue: Online stores can give the perception of an “infinite aisle.” Retail stores struggle more here. When I’m searching for a specific item, any given store may or may not carry it. “Out of stock” in the customer mind isn’t narrowly tied to what should be in stock — but to what they need at that point in time. Online may have to backorder the item — but the customer is interested in finding the product their way, ordering it, and having it arrive. They can do that easier online — unless they need it instantly.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Will urgent care centers put a hurt on retail health clinics?

    In our area, urgent care clinics are well developed and there are far more than there are retail clinics. And that seems to be an inherent limitation when retailers try to add clinics — the only advantage of their location is if the customer is going there anyway. Doesn’t mean they won’t work out well for the retailer. But I expect the robust urgent care networks will continue to supply most of the services.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Ace Hardware and True Value satisfy customers, Home Depot not so much

    My own experience mirrors this. Yet I am a classic promiscuous shopper. In fact, I shop at Home Depot more than I shop at Ace. Why? They have more of everything. When I need assistance with my purchase or just need a quick in and out, then I’ll go to Ace. Otherwise, it’s Depot or Lowe’s. We need to respect that an inherent limitation of big box stores will always be customer service. An Ace store with a couple of smart associates can make customers feel taken care of. But a Home Depot store would need far more experts to deliver that feeling.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Walmart’s checkout pilot puts shoppers in the fast lane

    At the risk of being accused of curmudgeonliness, I am not a fan of retail’s current obsession with checkout. Is it just because Amazon has a PR win with Amazon Go? (It’s not clear to me that it’s a shopper win, but time will tell.) I keep hearing things about wanting “friction free” checkout. Personally, I rely on friction at checkout to look again at the things in my basked or my choices and make final decisions about what I’ll be buying. As I’ve observed elsewhere, friction is an incredibly useful force in the physical world. Without friction human’s couldn’t walk. Airplanes couldn’t brake. My primary recommendation to retailers is that there’s no reason to compete to be “first” to have some crazy new checkout idea. Most retailers should sit back and let the whole thing shake out before distracting from more important efforts.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Are Wegmans, Giant Eagle and Tops wise to drop in-store childcare?

    The idea of childcare can be quite attractive to management, but is it similarly attractive (in reality) with parents? Do parents trust those who are running the facility? Do they trust the other kids in the space? Do their children want it or would they prefer to wander the store? Reality seems to fight against these — so it's no wonder use is dropping nor is it any wonder that it’s far more profitable for the retailer to convert the space to other uses.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Will a city’s ban on tobacco sales catch on across the nation?

    We have not, apparently, learned from prohibition or from the current rush to legalize marijuana that prohibitions on items seen as “vices” generally backfire. But it’s not really a surprise that Beverly Hills is taking this step. From what I read, we have reached a point where tobacco products are already hard enough to obtain so that it discourages those who are able to be discouraged. Going further, often just because it’s an easy win for some politician, won’t help and will likely hurt. Sad to see.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2019

    Will a new mobile app build IKEA’s furniture sales?

    I’m of two minds. First, it is smart for IKEA to fix the busted mobile world they’ve created for themselves. But second, it’s not clear to me that it matters much overall. Another tactical step forward — but only tactical. Mobile customers had always been able to order via the IKEA website on their mobile device.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2019

    Walmart to expand its talent pipeline with a debt-free college plan for high schoolers

    This is an excellent move by Walmart — at least at a societal level. And Walmart will benefit as well. Retail lacks the excited, breathless buzz which surrounds STEM and other post-high school experiences. Let’s hope this helps many graduating high schoolers find good work and good careers built in connection with a company. The announcement isn’t just about school, either. The commitment to maintaining work schedules is critical as well. It would be excellent if those moves led more to follow and we returned to a situation where companies understood that shareholder value benefits when they commit to employees.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2019

    Will delivering online orders seven days a week further transform retail ops?

    No surprise that FedEx is doing this. We should be clear, though, that Sunday delivery is purely a tactical move for retailers — not a strategic move. Retail’s focus needs to continue to be delivering a meaningful, useful, and motivating store experience built on products of value. Only a strong store experience can build retailer e-commerce power.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    What would Amazon do with Boost Mobile?

    I don’t think it makes sense for Amazon to move into telecom — why dare regulators to initiate an anti-trust investigation as they have just done with Google? On the other hand, they need profit. It’s increasingly clear they’ll never make profit on over 50 percent of their revenue. Will Boost get it for them? Not with margins like AWS. But adding Whole Foods improved their profits (kind of an ironic statement). Adding Boost just might do so as well.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    Experience is overrated, hire talent

    My take is that experience is used because it’s a simple criteria. And in a world where avoiding blame is more important than doing good (most bureaucracies), HR departments and hiring managers know that it offers political cover from blame. On the other hand, it’s silly. My son, a 21-year-old, makes regular fun of employment ads that demand a four-year degree and five years experience in order to earn $12/hour. All this makes me wonder, do many HR departments live in an alternate universe? I suppose the answer is that they do — a bureaucracy.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    Will the price of avocados make Americans say enough to Trump’s tariffs?

    Consumers quite often remain unaware of the ways tariffs affect their lives. Loud discussion about a few extra cents per avocado isn’t a tremendously moving argument. At the other extreme, for companies those few cents per sale add up into massive costs that threaten their existence. I’m already aware of Chinese companies who are ceasing to export to the U.S. — due to the impact of tariffs. In no way do I support these tariffs nor the impact they’re having. But we need to recognize that even 5 percent on a weekly shopping trip is not clearly noticeable not easily attributed to the tariffs. So it’s a very big communication challenge fighting them. Consumers deserve a clear view of how these tariffs will damage their pocketbook and their choices. Unfortunately, the NRF approach to the discussion seems targeted to congress and not consumers.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2019

    Why does loyalty program ROI remain so murky?

    Direct marketers know we shouldn’t test whispers. Yet retailers are testing whispers constantly in their loyalty programs. How? They test things which can, at best, create only small change. Loyalty impact may also be murky because, based on excellent research across categories, it’s not a very efficient use of money. Why does EVERYONE believe they are effective? I suppose it seems so “common sense”. Except it’s not. Marketers end up paying double for basket size — paying twice for what we only needed to pay for once. And more data won’t clarify things. Loyalty programs probably can’t be cancelled. But they certainly shouldn’t be seen as positively as they are.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2019

    Did Walmart just one-up Amazon on next day deliveries?

    I'm a bit surprised that you’ve taken my comment that consumers should pay a premium for premium service as “opposition to online shopping” or denial that it’s here to stay. Of course it’s here to stay. But I’m reminded of a friend of mine (VP marketing for AT&T Wireless) who expressed dismay at how in the U.S. phones were given away and the future chaos that would create for them. He was right. And now Bell South (the new AT&T) is attempting to change that policy and have consumers pay for their phones. As to Amazon, they spent $27 billion with a “B" shipping things last year. It appears that Amazon Prime is merely a way to lose more money, faster, on retail-like sales. The evidence is pretty clear in their annual reports once you remove AWS as well as estimates of content and their own devices. They are creating a future disaster for themselves. Back to my point: A dash to the bottom leads to no one winning. The theory that a money loser can become profitable by losing more money is clearly not legitimate. Retailers should start charging for premium things.

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