Ben Ball

Senior Vice President, Dechert-Hampe

Ben is Senior Vice President for Dechert-Hampe where he specializes in Customer Development – implementing go-to-market strategies and tactics that build a stronger customer franchise and superior financial performance. As the lead on customer development for DHC, he works with companies such as Bayer Consumer Care, Con Agra, Hewlett-Packard Company, Sara Lee Food & Beverage, Time Warner, Pillsbury and the Mars, Inc. companies.

Ben is a frequently published author in the business press on the subjects of the Evolution of Retailing, Vendor/Distributor Relationships, Customer Relationship Management, Category Management and Trade Marketing. He has chaired numerous conferences on these subjects and is a featured speaker at major industry associations.

Prior to joining Dechert-Hampe in 1992, Ben was Marketing Vice President at PepsiCo Foods International. Other experience includes Marketing Vice President and Director of Field Marketing at Frito-Lay, Inc., group brand manager of new products at Mars, Incorporated, Snack-master Division, and Product Manager at General Mills, Inc.

He holds a Masters Degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dechert-Hampe & Company, a Sales and Marketing consulting firm, has offices located in Trumbull, Connecticut; Northbrook, Illinois; and Mission Viejo, California.

At Dechert-Hampe we like to say we are “Consumer Driven – Customer Focused”. We provide a range of services to clients, all focused on optimizing the customer interface with a consumer perspective in mind. These services include traditional Sales and Marketing consulting as well as a range of supporting services such as Organization Education and Development, Customer-facing Operations services and Communications.

Dechert-Hampe has been involved with Customer Development initiatives since the early ‘80’s, and for the past ten years Ben has concentrated on developing DHC’s capabilities in Marketing, Category Management, Trade Funds Management and Customer Relationship Management. DHC engagements in these areas encompass Grocery, General Merchandise, HBC, Dairy and Frozen Food clients in both the United States and Canada. These engagements have also touched a breadth of retail channels including Food, Drug, Mass Merchandisers, Office Supply, Consumer Electronics, Wholesale Clubs, Superstores, Specialty Outlets and the Military.

  • Posted on: 03/23/2017

    Is social media influence the new key to building brand loyalty?

    I didn't even bother to read the article on this one, so my apologies to Mr. Alaimo. But I didn't have to in order to answer the question posed. At least, the one posed by the headline.No. Word of mouth from trusted influencers is still the key to building brand trial and, combined with delivering the brand promise, the key to brand loyalty as well. Social media is just the new forum for word of mouth. Maybe we could call it "word of text" or "word of Twitter" -- but it's still the same old thing.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2017

    Is ‘wantedness’ something that marketers need?

    Good grief. Our propensity for dreaming up new ways to express constant truisms will never cease to amaze. We started out with "high touch -- low touch" and have evolved to "wantedness." It's still all about brands that deliver their promise and retailers that deliver great customer service and meet shopper needs for a segment better than anyone else geographically accessible to that shopper which, with online shopping, means anywhere in the world.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2017

    Will being more like Home Depot work for J.C. Penney?

    "It's beginning to look a lot like a Sears store -- everywhere I go ... "OK, bad Christmas jingle pun. It's snowing in Chicago for the first time since December and I'm feeling a little giddy this morning.But seriously, maybe there is an opportunity for someone to do "Sears" right again. There were always parts of it that worked -- mostly Craftsman and Kenmore.
  • Posted on: 03/13/2017

    Are retailers ‘blind’ to digital marketing’s flaws?

    Digital is like every other media -- it works when tightly targeted and seldom pays back in the typical "spray and pray" approach. Digital is definitely the "shiny new object" -- but a little bit of that is nomenclature (sort of like the way in-store demos have become "experiential marketing") -- digital can either be direct mail on a different device or it can be broadcast advertising. It's all about using the right approach for the right purpose. And yes, John Wanamaker, half of our advertising dollars are still wasted -- and we still don't know which half.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2017

    Are free returns a good way to drive online sales?

    I was going to write about how my spouse uses the free returns feature for Zappos and others for categories like clothes and shoes where fit and "trying it on" are so important. Now I don't have to. ;-)Until the "virtual dressing room" (complete with accurate sizing) becomes a reality, the liberal returns policy is going to be a must for retailers in these categories.
  • Posted on: 03/07/2017

    Will using Uber for home deliveries work for Kroger?

    Tony, you raise a great point (or maybe a "counterpoint"?) which is how the delivery of groceries by Uber is perceived. Clearly, Kroger is treating it as a single order going directly to a single home -- no more risky than any given consumer driving the groceries home in their car. And much the same way restaurants that deliver one-off take-out orders use cabs or Uber drivers. But will the court view it that way when someone sues Kroger for the salmonella they contracted due to receiving warm meat? Which standard will the court apply? That this is a "one-off" independent transaction and not subject to the same rules your catering trucks or a Domino's driver are? As Stephen Kouzoumis used to say: "hmmmm........"
  • Posted on: 03/07/2017

    Will the joking stop now that IKEA furniture can be assembled in minutes?

    Jamie, can I get the website on that?
  • Posted on: 03/07/2017

    Will the joking stop now that IKEA furniture can be assembled in minutes?

    Now who will need to update "IKEA for Dummies"?A rite of "first living space" passage will disappear for generations. Though truth be told, it is only those living in urban centers who have ready access to the IKEA experience.The good news is that there is still a plurality of the population living in flyover country who know how to actually build stuff.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2017

    Should grocers open slow checkout lanes for seniors?

    It's that "research thing" again. You have to know how people are hearing the question that you thought you asked.My father-in-law is a widower of 84. One of his primary activities of the day is to shop. It gets him out of the house. He never buys more than he will use that day. And often goes to multiple stores for items that are readily available "just to get more exercise."I don't think these seniors are saying they want a "slow lane" for them to stand in even longer. What they are saying is that they use shopping as one of their key social interactions and they want a lane where they can walk right up to a cashier and have them chat as long as they like without anyone behind them to push them along. You would need one lane per person to satisfy what I believe these folks are actually seeking.
  • Posted on: 03/02/2017

    Will consumers make a pilgrimage to Yeti?

    I was just about to chime in with the "this is how Bass Pro started in St. Louis ... " when I hit your post, Tom. It's still a destination for sportsmen, as is the Cabela's store in Sydney, Nebraska and the L.L.Bean store in Freeport. Yeti has established itself as the "Kleenex" of high-performance coolers in a record short time. So much so that I refer to my Cabela's model of the same cooler (better performance ratings and $150 easier on my wallet) as a "Cabeti."
  • Posted on: 03/02/2017

    Will consumers make a pilgrimage to Yeti?

    "Or my dream car the ’57 Belaire convertible. Can someone give me a witness?"Oh yeah! Mine was a '56. My dad bought it from his brother-in-law's dealership in '55, right after I was born. He kept it for my first car. You can't imagine how much I miss them both.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2017

    Has J.C. Penney pulled off ‘one of the greatest financial turnarounds in retail history’?

    Translation: I'm not Eddie Lampert and J.C. Penney isn't Sears -- yet.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2017

    Will Walmart’s price push pull customers away from Aldi?

    Props on hitting the nail with the first comment out of the box this morning Keith!Aldi is an experience -- just like Trader Joe's. (Hard to believe they are part of the same family given the differences -- but it is the similarity that is key. They are both uniquely positioned and stick to what they are religiously.)Walmart may slow some market share shifting at the margins. But they will not stop Aldi's expansion. No matter how hard they squeeze vendors for price concessions.
  • Posted on: 02/27/2017

    Will irrational shipping prices doom brick and mortar stores?

    The reason the retail community has so much trouble understanding "free shipping" is because we always think of "pick, pack, ship" as "in addition to" rather than "instead of." To be sure, it's not a one-to-one relationship. But there are substantial trade-offs. Think of it this way. Manufacturers can choose to get their products to the store via direct ship to the warehouse, third-party distributor to warehouse or store -- depending -- or by direct store delivery (DSD). Each adds some costs and subtracts others, including the retailer's margin at the shelf which is typically lower for DSD than warehoused items.Now apply the same logic to Amazon. You have minimal long-tail inventory because your vendors hold it. You have almost no transaction friction costs because your vendors pay you to be on the site -- more than covering your costs of money/admin/etc. You have no fixed distribution costs because you are strictly 3PL (for now anyway). And you have huge leverage with those 3PLs because of your volume. Your order entry costs are practically zero because it is all online and digitized on your back-end. Orders made by voice on Alexa are placed, picked by robots, packed, billed and shipped and payment collected without a human even needing to know that the whole order took place. Much less need a human to intervene. It's not that hard folks.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2017

    Can Walmart grow its online business profitably?

    1. I didn't listen to the conference call -- but I don't think the acquisitions were accretive to profitability in the current quarter.
    2. While Walmart chose not to mention the fact that they have significantly increased in-store labor costs through wage increases (those wage increases being viewed positively by many from a sociopolitical standpoint) -- they still are hurting profits.
    3. The online model does have inherently lower profitability per-item sold when you figure in delivery deals. What it does not have (done properly) is huge dead inventory costs the way physical stores do. Mr. McMillon was (smartly) using the statement "it's more expensive to do business online" as a cover for "we're losing more money in-store."
    4. I think I might have set a RetailWire record for "thumbs down" a few weeks ago when I commented that BOPIS is not the answer to convenient delivery. But BOPIS is not the answer to convenient delivery. Same-day home or "to my desired location" delivery is the answer to convenient delivery. Amazon will continue to kill any retailer relying on customers actually coming to the store for non-perishable categories.
    5. McMillon/Walmart have set an expectation for profit margin and shareholder returns with Wall Street that Bezos/Amazon have avoided. That will continue to dog Walmart if they try to make "Bezos bets" on innovation and reduced friction in the system for consumers.
    6. I am not selling my Walmart stock. They are still a great company. But anyone who thinks they are out of the woods in addressing the challenges of zero-friction retailing is about to bump into a tree.

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