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: 02/13/2019

    Will the new plan for Sears work any better than the previous ones?

    Which plan are we speaking about? The stated plan which Lampert hung on to -- the "Shop Your Way" methodology -- which yielded nothing? Or Lampert's apparent plan, which seems to be moving the assets from Sears to his companies to return his investment and let the stores deteriorate? I don't see much hope for Sears in any form. The merchandising is outdated, stores lack investment and the online business has diminished. Focusing more on appliances could have worked 10 years ago. But today, so many other companies have taken advantage of Sears' weakness and built a healthy business that Sears will not be able to get back. Also, much of the appliance business has moved online, which Sears could have done if Lampert had taken advantage of building the online presence about 10 years ago. I am not sure what type of CEO would want to take that job given the history of how Lampert values others.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2019

    J.C. Penney dumps appliances

    I thought the approach of appliances and furniture was a sound strategy when it was introduced. J.C. Penney had a window of opportunity to be able to merchandise the entire home. Certainly delivery and installation is a challenge, but it is a solvable one. No retailer today can really provide a complete home and fashion makeover. Now, what are they left with? Clothing, shoes and other items that are readily available everywhere. So what is the point of differentiation at J.C. Penney? The answer is more deals, more discounts and some store within a store concept. I don't see much hope for the future.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2019

    Which commercial won Super Bowl LIII?

    The most entertaining and memorable commercial was the NFL 100 Year Game. It was certainly a great way and the right setting to let everyone know this is the centennial year. For me, the best commercial to execute a brand message was the Bud Light Special Delivery of Corn Syrup ad. It is difficult to differentiate your brand in the mass market beer environment, but this was certainly a great approach. Corn syrup has been made a villain in so many other food categories so the awareness is very high. It will be interesting to see how MillerCoors reacts to this frontal assault. The Amazon ad was fun and got across the point of integrating Alexa into many other products and platforms. The possibilities are endless and that came across in a light-hearted way. Many of the others I found to be boring and trying too hard to be irreverent with their humor. Humor at the expense of the message or meaning is useless. I probably agree more with the USA Today list than the Adweek list. And the game was lackluster.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2019

    Is experiential retail overhyped and misunderstood?

    This is dead on point. Many retailers go over the top trying to create the experience and not enough on the fundamentals of retail. Several years ago, there was a push for "eatertainment" restaurants. Some stayed in business for a few years, but at the end of the day, customers wanted good food and good prices. Yes, the decor is important in the selling and marketing process. But I agree with the author. No one wants to shop in an amusement park. Focus on solving a customers need with the product you sell and that is the most important concept.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2019

    Lowe’s kicks off NFL deal in the biggest game of all

    If you look at the Wharton study that was done a few years ago, these types of sponsorship deals have a negative ROI. When the USPS sponsored Lance Armstrong, an internal analysis could only show an incremental return of around $600,000 while spending $39 million to get it. Lowe's does not have much of a brand awareness issue. What they are trying to show is that they are different, better, and higher quality than Home Depot. I am not sure how this sponsorship is going to do that. I am sure they will measure it and see the end result. I am not bullish on it. As a consumer, I do see a lot of changes for the better at Lowe's in a very short period of time.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2019

    Did Gillette’s rant against toxic masculinity go too far?

    Comparing this ad to the Nike ad is apples and oranges. Nike has always had a "Just Do It" message. The Colin Kaepernick ad did not take a position on any subject. Its statement was simply, do what you believe in, no matter what the cost. It is another way of saying Just Do It. The issue with Gillette taking any position in this discussion is that it is not a message Gillette believes in or markets. They are one of the largest offenders of the "pink tax" with women's products priced well over men. But more important, this commercial makes it clear that MOST men behave this way. Not the minority, but most men and that is insulting to not only men but its core customer. This came across as a blatant attempt to capitalize on a movement that they clearly do not believe in or have ever associated with.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2019

    NRF: Is the time right for retailers and brands to take political stands?

    There is a big difference between social issues and political issues. Brands that identify with social change and social issues attract their target customer. Those who believe in their social causes and therefore, support the brand who is taking action. However, many brands that support social issues do not alienate those consumers that are not fully in line with their cause. Therefore, all types of consumers may use the brand and not think twice about the social aspect. You don't have to be fully bought into an organic or natural lifestyle to shop at Whole Foods. Political issues are far more divisive and can cause the brand great harm. Politics tends to be more partisan than social issues and can cause anger. Consumers are a bit firmer in their political views with very little leeway. Nike caused a firestorm with their Colin Kaepernick ad. However, when you look closely at that ad, it was not making a political statement or a social statement. It fit into Nike's "Just Do It" messaging. The controversy was using Colin Kaepernick, who is a symbol of standing up for what he believes in. It was something that works for their core customer. The ad stuck to Nike's core values. The recent Gillette commercial is a different story. It is taking a firm position and is more upfront about it. There is also a disconnect between the commercial and Gillette's marketing, in that they are preaching equality yet are one of the biggest symbols of the Pink Tax. I think they still have work to do to be taken seriously in the area of social causes.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2019

    NRF: What’s the next step for omnichannel grocery?

    Not just grocery, but all of retail is separated into silos which reduces efficiency and ultimately reduces the ability to understand consumer shifts. The consumer has always had the "I have a problem and I want to solve it -- Now!" attitude. This is not a future consumer. Retailers who have recognized this, have excelled. Grocery has fallen short on the delivery to the customer, especially with perishables. There is very little reason Amazon should be leading the way in online grocery when the retailers should have figured this out years ago. But they did not take the consumer shift seriously enough and did not devote enough resources to tackling the problem. So they are behind and going to play catch up. It may be too late for many.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2019

    Are department stores seeing the Ghost of Christmas Future in bleak holiday results?

    Consumers evolve rapidly. Technology evolves rapidly. The above-mentioned stores are not evolving at a pace with the consumer. Complacency is the enemy of brick-and-mortar retail today. Small changes and implementation of ineffective pricing and sales programs are not going to solve what ails them. They need to rethink their models and start to focus on the ever-changing customer. Walk in to any of these stores and you can see many of the problems. The store layouts don't change, the product merchandising doesn't change, assortments and brands don't change. Price will only get them so far. Yes, they are going to continue to struggle.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2019

    Is it now or never for J.C. Penney?

    I want to believe that J.C. Penney can turn this around. However, after all of the effort and changes to management and strategy, the one glaring point is where does J.C. Penney fit in the retail landscape? What is the value proposition? Unfortunately, I cannot find it and it is not glaringly obvious. Until J.C. Penney carves out a clear path to the consumer's wallet, I am afraid they are headed down the path of obsolescence.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2019

    Is Lowe’s doing it right with its new tagline?

    I do think that Marvin Ellison is going to have an impact. As a user of both Home Depot and Lowe's, I have noticed some changes for the better in the last six months. There are some quality differences between the two chains with Lowe's seemingly focusing in on that attribute. If Lowe's can fulfill this "Do It Right For Less" brand promise, they will certainly regain what they have lost. This will be one to continue to watch.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2019

    Will AI, tariffs or some other news be the big retailing story of 2019?

    Certainly technology and retail will continue to evolve. The ability to use e-commerce and a store experience in brand development will continue. The use of social media in building a connection to the consumer will continue to evolve. Loyalty and retention should always be number one on any retailer's strategic plan. But I believe the bigger story in 2019 will be around how the economy will fare with tariffs causing price increases throughout the extended supply chain for most retailers. Tariffs have already been proven to be harmful and will cause a trickle-down effect all the way to the consumer. 2019 will be a tough year for the economy and we have already seen hesitation and uncertainty in the markets at the end of 2018. This country's economy is built on consumer spending. When consumers pull back because their spending does not go as far, retail suffers the most. I think the economy will be the biggest story of 2019.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2019

    Is Blue Apron smart to pin turnaround hopes on Weight Watchers alliance?

    It's great to have access to those customers. However, the problem with Blue Apron and other meal delivery services comes down to three problems that this partnership does not address. First, the inherent economics in the cost of creating and shipping these meal kits. It is generally higher than the revenue generated from the orders. Second, getting consumers to see value in paying more to feed their families in exchange for the time they are getting back by having the meal prepared for them. Third and probably most important is retention. The cost of acquiring a new customer can only be overcome by keeping that customer for several years and purchasing at least once per week. I am surprised they are still hanging on. But until these points are addressed by the company, the result is not going to change.
  • Posted on: 12/21/2018

    Is Amazon Prime not what it’s cracked up to be?

    Prime is not just about free two-day shipping. And some parts of the article are correct. Seller-fulfilled Prime (third-party sellers) does not work the same as when Amazon ships the product. But Prime has evolved to offer so many more benefits that to just focus on shipping is not doing the program justice. It offers:
    • Prime Now - free two-hour delivery in the available markets, which is a great benefit for food shopping;
    • Prime Video - Free movies and shows;
    • Prime Pantry - $40 minimum. If you are not buying at least $40 worth of products, why bother ordering?;
    • Alexa deals, Whole Foods deals, music streaming, free e-books, free magazines, free Washington Post, free audio books.
    Just to name a few. As a retention tool, I think Prime is a very strong program. As an Amazon expert who manages many accounts for brands, it is a driver of sales for the consumer. The difference between a product listed Prime and one that is not is eight to one in terms of sales. Maybe the author of the article doesn't really understand Prime and should focus on the other benefits before focusing solely on one part of a vast program and calling it a disappointment.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2018

    Can Barnes & Noble’s in-store experts beat algorithms?

    I am sure this process works well in one or two markets, but finding and training knowledgeable staff is going to be a challenge. If this were as easy a process as the commercial makes it out, most problems in any retailer would be solved. Finding and training talent that can sell to consumers in books is going to be the challenge. Book sales today are driven by credible review sites, ads on selling sites and PR. I don't see store level people replicating that.

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