PROFILE

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.
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  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    ‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon

    I agree with the need for a “less is more” approach and have observed that the “endless aisle” theory of many retailers sounds like something from a store in a horror movie. That said, it’s not going to be easy. Home Depot has been pushing hard on an endless aisle approach. At this point, we can’t say it’s working against them (see today’s quarterly report). So the power of “less is more” will take considerable insight and cleverness to leverage.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    ‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon

    Absolutely. And one of the reasons Apple has a tightly curated set of products is -- they make them all. And that’s the real reason for their stores' success. Since other retailers don’t make their own (invent their own incredibly unusual and powerful) products, they face a different challenge than Apple.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    Can AR help shoppers get where they need to go?

    This could be a relatively well-done app (if the silliness, sound and distractions put into the demo were removed). So I’m more impressed than I expected. And yet ... Have retailers given up (often through their own mismanagement) with hiring and keeping smart, engaged employees? It’s possible that this opportunity went away when retail management put in ISO9xxx customer service requirements including surveys that punished employees for things they couldn’t control. I can’t imagine that AR on their phone is better than having a good individual greet someone. Not only aren’t people looking around and seeing other things of interest, they aren’t engaging with a human being who could give them a better answer (and better experience) than the AR.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    As a quick observation, Ken, it sounds like what you call "shopping" is really buying. Once a purchase is "recurring" there's no shopping involved -- perhaps some price checking.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    What's interesting is that the arguments against the web remain valid. It has turned into a buying mechanism -- but even 20 years removed it hasn't been able to become a good shopping mechanism. Many of those arguments were made against the incredible late 1990s claims that "everything" would become online shopping ... That stores would disappear because they're not needed, etc. Yet while there are category exceptions, overall online shopping after 20 years remains around 10% of total revenue. Where what you suggest is valid is that voice technology might become better and that might help it expand some. So, in 20 years, perhaps 5% of voice devices will be used for shopping.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    What seems lost in the discussion is that most people who shout loudly that voice shopping will succeed have significant incomes. Yet the success of voice shopping will depend on those with tight incomes -- where there's no disposable income to absorb mistakes. The perspective we need to take is to consider ordering Scope but getting Soap instead. What would your response be if you earned minimum wage in a service job? People take considerable care with their money -- something that seems lost on the digerati that push many ridiculous shopping ideas.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2018

    Where does art end and retail begin?

    This is an art exhibit pure and simple. Artists are doing gimmicks like this because it sells their work to collectors (under the theory that it’s a commentary on consumerism -- not under the theory that it’s smart merchandising). And I think these worlds need stay quite separate. When advertising has attempted to become art school pure, it’s been a miserable failure -- neither great art nor effective advertising. From my closeness to the world of art, what I would like to see would be retailers purchasing great work (intuitive, instinctive, emotional -- not pop art) after it’s complete and with no pressure on the artist. When the two try to come together, it might be okay for retail but it’s very bad for the world of art.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2018

    Will in-home 3D scanner drive online clothing sales?

    Put me down as a full skeptic. Sizing and fit is an incredibly subtle problem. This has all the hallmarks of tossing technology at a problem hoping to make a mint off the technology -- without determining if the tech will actually make a major difference. Turn this tech upside down and ask what it really is. It is automating the measuring of people’s bodies. Nice. I guess. But there are any number of tailor shops I can go to to get that without having to commit to some device. The challenge isn’t getting the measurements, it’s having places to shop where those measurements are useful and meaningful at getting a better fit than I get off the shelf.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2018

    Empty malls spelled the end for Brookstone stores

    Brookstone’s failure is about product. While they filled their stores with gizmos, none were compelling, unusual, or able to draw shoppers into their stores. In a sense, Brookstone needed innovative products to draw shoppers even more than traditional retailers. And, their past success showed the potential for these products to create traffic. The lesson retailers should take from this failure is NOT to blame the malls, but to blame retail’s own tendency to believe products are commodities. The ONLY reason people come to the store is for products. Many things come with that and stores have complex challenges. Retail success starts with the right product mix of solid standards and surprising, unusual innovations. As we see with Brookstone, when those ingredients are missing, the store cannot succeed.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Six-year-old YouTuber is the face of Walmart’s new toy line


    Compound that with the clear sense that some adult has built an empire around the child... The kid didn't do that - an adult did. Reminds me in a way of the 6 year old beauty queen world... And then I want to go watch Little Miss Sunshine again just to regain a bit of sanity.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Who in retailing’s c-suites should drive customer experience?

    The experience a customer has in a store is the entire job of retail. So why would we expect any one individual to “drive” customer experience? Experience is the sum total of all interactions with a store and involves all parts of the org chart. Truth is, those retailers who allocate “customer experience” to one role will end up delivering far sub-standard experience. Should someone be responsible for concepting and leading the overall goal for the store environment? That makes sense. Should someone else be responsible for guiding employee interaction with customers -- trying to set up the ideal for how the employee interactions feel? Yes. What about the specifics of fixtures? Yup -- someone else. What about merchandising? Yup -- choosing what products go into the store is key to the customer experience.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Wayfair to open its first brick & mortar store

    I don’t think this is an admission yet -- it’s only their first store. What I think we can conclude is that Wayfair is interested in whether there’s more power to be gained with bricks to complement their clicks. That said, the signs seem clear that eventually Wayfair should open full stores to complement (and exceed) their online operation.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Six-year-old YouTuber is the face of Walmart’s new toy line


    Is this child an “influencer” or a YouTube star Walmart is leveraging like they would, say, a young Disney star? And to what degree is Walmart leveraging the entire infrastructure built up around this kid? Everything about this is like a young Disney star -- including the machinery. So I just can’t see calling this “influencer marketing” in the way that term is used online. (It IS “influencer marketing from the good old days of hiring known stars to support your products.") And then the big question: Is it a good idea? I see it as a smart tactical move -- it should drive some profit and action in the near term and that’s good. But it is highly unlikely to turn out to be a long-term product line or a long-term relationship. Photogenic six-year-olds quite quickly turn into middle-schoolers and that won’t be good for Walmart.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2018

    Kroger Ship to take on Amazon’s Prime Pantry

    Retailers everywhere need to be cautious about loading all these experiences and features. We need remember Christensen’s observations in The Innovator’s Dilemma. Disruption (whose commonness he exaggerates) becomes a risk when a long-time player loads too many costly features that consumers only partially value. That creates the situation where a low-cost player can come into the market and offer far fewer features but make customers quite happy. And the market is disrupted. No. This won’t “redefined the customer experience.” It is another option that some people will use. It won’t offer much profit ($5 shipping up to $30 then free? Eating one-sixth of cost isn’t the way to profitability).
  • Posted on: 08/01/2018

    Zara bets on faster deliveries from stores to boost online growth

    Fulfilling from stores is smart -- the logistics of distributed inventory are costly and tricky. Will it become the norm? For many things it probably will. Unfortunately, fulfilling from stores is not a silver bullet. It won’t solve the poor economics of online sales. It won’t take a struggling retailer and magically make it succeed. And speed of delivery is not the only issue for consumers -- consumers quite often would rather get exactly what they want even if it’s a bit slower. Notice how Amazon Prime delivery has slowed and is no longer “rapid” in many cases. I think Amazon has learned: The promise of near-instant delivery is only important to a very narrow market.

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