PROFILE

Phil Masiello

Founder and CEO, Hound Dog Digital Agency
Expert digital marketer for eCommerce, Mobile Apps and Amazon Marketplace Sellers. Author of "Think-Engage-Thrive: Marketing Actions To Skyrocket Your Brand In The Digital Age."

Phil Masiello has founded or co-founded several disruptive business models, focusing at the intersection of emerging digital technologies and consumer lifestyles.

Most recently, Phil was the founder and CEO of 800razors.com, an online seller of Made in the USA shaving products for men and women that compare in quality to the national brands at a fraction of the cost and conveniently delivered to your home. Prior to that, Phil co-founded Raw Beauty with former supermodel Carol Alt to market her skin care line Raw Essentials on the television shopping channels, retail and eCommerce. Prior to that, Phil founded The Daily Market Grab and Go Meal Stores, Fabulous Food Stores and several other notable businesses.

Phil is an expert business startup builder in the B2C channel with a primary focus on lifestyle, health, beauty and fashion products. Adept at developing effective digital and social strategies and campaigns to build awareness, brand recognition and top line sales growth.

For more information, visit the Hound Dog Digital website...
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  • Posted on: 06/18/2018

    Is Amazon killing Barnes & Noble’s chances for a turnaround?

    The majority of Barnes & Noble's struggles are self-created and began about 20 years ago when they failed to fully embrace the changing customer. They were slow to respond to online selling in the beginning. Their Nook was a late and half-hearted attempt at digital books. If you look at the history of the online bookselling channel, both Barnes & Noble and Borders allowed Amazon to flourish. Neither company took online and digital books seriously until it was too late. Additionally, Barnes & Noble has run the same brick-and-mortar model without changing or adapting. In order for Barnes & Noble to survive, they need to figure out the unmet needs of the book buying consumer and carve out a sustainable niche online and in physical stores. Unfortunately, they may be out of time.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2018

    Brands win with TV 2.0 and the new direct mail

    Television advertising can still be effective for brands. However, the effectiveness of the ad comes down to how well the creative speaks to the audience and how much the spots costs. Today, the cost of production has dramatically decreased. That allows brands to test different creative and different messages, very effectively. Because of the number of channels available, brands can do a very good job of targetting their correct audience. Wayfair is a great example of advertising on channels like HGTV and DIY. I am not so bullish on direct mail. In my opinion, the returns were never there and have gotten worse. I have never seen direct mail work.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2018

    Retailers told to forget social media

    I totally disagree with this assessment. I would seriously doubt if 100 percent of the YouTube subscribers are unique. Each channel supports the other channel. You have to look at social through all of the channels that feed and support each other. But certainly social will not work if your content is poor. I am sure that the YouTube videos that are generating 60 percent of their sales are being seen on Facebook and Instagram and that is driving the viewership. The other part of this is who your audience is. Vat19 has a very, very young audience and Facebook skews a bit older as does Instagram. So for his business, these channels probably would not drive conversions. But that does not mean they should not be used by others.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2018

    Retailers get real with high-touch service

    If a retailer, whether brick and mortar or e-commerce, understands their customer, then they will know the proper channels to engage with that customer. There is no "one size fits all" model. You have to understand who your customer is and where your customer is. Some brands work very well on Instagram and Facebook, others work well on Pinterest. Many brands don't work on social media at all. And you always want to find your niche to break through the clutter. I can see a podcast working for a company like Dream Beard. Men's grooming is a big subject. If the podcast is done correctly, there are many different directions to take the discussions. But a podcast would not work for every brand. A retailer should always understand who their customer is and where they are so they can best engage with them. That will break through the clutter and form a relationship.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2018

    Macy’s taps staff for their influencer clout

    The whole point of an influencer is having someone who is not associated with the brand, yet promoting what they love about the brand. However, as we all know, this has evolved into influencers getting paid by the brands for an endorsement. But the consumer may still buy into the influencer because they aren't associated with the brand. But somehow this approach by Macy's seems to me to be evolving into social media commercials for Macy's run by Macy's associates. I think the customer may discount these influencers because they work for the company. But it will be interesting to watch and see how it is perceived.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2018

    Retailers can make personalization work

    There are two different types of personalization that you are bringing up in this discussion. There is the personalization of offer and there is the customization of the product. Personalization of the offer requires the retailer to care about the customer and want to understand their buying behavior. This is going to require a cultural change. The example of the Amazon toilet seat is more about ad re-targeting than personalization. Amazon's algorithm actually does a very good job of suggesting what a buyer might like based on past purchases and current searches that did not lead to a purchase. This AI system is improving as information is merged from the Alexa systems. Content providers like Spotify, Flipboard and Apple News do a good job of personalization and providing relevant product based on behavior on their platforms. But for retailers to get it right, they would need to put the customer first and put the systems in place to learn and understand what the customer really wants. Most retailers show the consumer what they want to sell them based on what the buyers purchased. Thus, retailers would need to study consumer trends and buy relevant product for the customer, not rely on what manufacturers present to them. Customization is a totally different process and will require "produce on demand" systems to be in place. The ability to print designs or customize color on shoes and clothing is growing. The entire fashion customization is happening and growing and will be a very big part of online fashion sales growth in the next few years. However, the retailer still needs to start with a solid offering to customize.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2018

    Are podcasts the next big ad opportunity for brands?


    Podcasts have become a type of on-demand radio. The key is to keep your audience engaged and have a clear strategy to keep the podcast interesting. There are two different podcasting approaches you are discussing here. First, there are the brands creating their own podcast and second, brands advertising on podcasts. Brands like Barneys and Trader Joe's creating a podcast need to think long and hard about what they are trying to achieve. If these podcasts turn into 30- to 60-minute advertisements, they will have a difficult time retaining an audience. Advertising on existing podcasts can be effective endorsement opportunities for brands, but it comes down to the spot costs. And spot costs needs to relate to the number of active listeners. Many podcasts jumped the gun with their advertising rates. Although many brands began advertising on podcasts, they did not stick with it for a long time because the returns were not there. For brands to get the required return, they need to find the correct podcast for their audience, pay the right price and have the right message for the expense to be effective.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2018

    Best Buy finds more inventory on hand drives sales

    Accurate demand planning and inventory management systems have been available to retailers for over 20 years at this point. The problem, as with every system, is execution. Most users don't believe the data so they override the system and the system does not yield the desired result and it gets scrapped. It sounds to me like Best Buy is finally paying attention to the data and it is yielding a positive result. Having the correct inventory in the stores is essential for growing sales. There are a lot of retailers who have a ton of inventory on display, but no one is buying it because it is the wrong inventory for their consumers. Can this be a strength? Clearly, it can. It will also help in determining the right sized store.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2018

    Kroger to become meal kit force with Home Chef deal

    This is a great acquisition for Kroger and for Home Chef. In order for the economics to work for the meal kit businesses, they need the supply chain backbone of a food retailer. The obstacle to scaling for meal kits has been the acceptance of the masses, not the top 10 percent who can afford the premium. Kroger has to think about how best to integrate Home Chef into their stores to maximize consumer acceptance. Streamlining the consumer's food shopping is key to the success of meal kits. Consumers are still looking for meal solutions and this is a way for Kroger to outpace their competitors by providing this solution. If Kroger can deliver a good product at a good price that provides convenience to the customer, then this acquisition will pay off tenfold.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    eBay asks consumers what they want

    There have been content generation sites that have asked the interest question to deliver relevant content to its users. So the concept has a proven usefulness. To answer the question "what's holding back retailers ... " is simple. The retailer would need to care about delivering what the customer wants. The retailer would need to put the customer at the forefront. We all understand that retailers have not put the customer first. We are seeing the effects of this with poor retailers closing stores because they did not deliver what the customer wanted. eBay's approach will yield positive results for both eBay and the customer. Providing a personalized experience on an e-commerce site with such a vast selection is certain to make the shopping experience more enjoyable.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2018

    Will store-within-a-store concepts make Hy-Vee’s more attractive destinations?

    Hy-Vee is thinking out of the box and that is a positive. Retailers need to start to think creatively to retain their customers. A store-within-a-store concept can be great for a retailer's customers if it is executed correctly. The location has to be correct as well. I am always hesitant to add beauty to a food store unless there is a clear barrier. In a food environment, you want the store to smell like fresh food. When beauty is involved, you create a conflict of smells. When Harris Teeter and Duane Reade executed their store-within-a-store concepts that were not food related, they were on other levels of the store.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2018

    Should Starbucks acquire Blue Apron?

    I am not sure I see the fit with Starbucks. The Starbucks customer wants more food choices to eat now. Blue Apron sells meals that need to be prepared. Costco would be a better acquirer of Blue Apron than Starbucks. It may be that Costco is just testing the waters on the meal kit business and plans to acquire Blue Apron after proving the concept.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2018

    The importance of prioritizing high(er)-value customers

    Customer retention is the key to long-term success in any business, whether it is online or brick and mortar. Your best customers are the brands retained customers. These are the customers who are going to refer the brand to their friend and family and help acquire new customers. Over 80% of Zappos sales, for example, come from retained customers. Rather than spending the bulk of their marketing dollars on trying to get new customers, Zappos focused on building retention. This effort helped them grow from $1 million to $1 billion in sales in 7 years. Retailers need to take a page out of that book and focus on how to retain their customers and turn them into advocates by finding out what they love and hate about the retailers brand. Fix what they hate and build on what they love. Retailers think in a transactional paradigm. They do not think in a customer service paradigm and that is the root of all of their present problems. The brands that continue to thrive are customer focused retail brands.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2018

    Why is Amazon partnering with Sears again?

    Believe it or not, Sears.com still has about 1 million site visits per day. So, there is still something valuable in the website assets. Amazon has laid out its plans to own fashion, furniture, and appliances online. So it is not surprising that they started selling Kenmore appliances last year. Kenmore is still a viable brand in the consumer's eyes. This new venture could be a good test for Amazon to get into a new category of Auto with an installation offering. This could also play very well into Amazon's physical store effort. Amazon could be testing the viability of these brands for an acquisition at a later time. DieHard and Kenmore are solid brands that Amazon could use to increase their growth and develop categories that they are underserved. I think it is a smart move on Sears's part to form this alliance before someone else does. I don't think there is much hope for Sears viability as a retail brand any longer, but the brands and website they own, still hold some value for an eventual sale.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2018

    When Harry’s met Target and then Walmart

    Target was a very good fit for Harry's to enter retail. But moving the brand into Walmart will devalue the brand. Obviously, they need to push the volume through their factory and this will help. But the brand has lost its identity with this move.

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