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: 10/21/2016

    What follows all-day breakfast at McDonald’s?

    All-day breakfast is going to be the QSR norm soon. This will continue to build QSR sales as a group -- but less of the benefit will accrue to McDonald's as others join the game. McDonald's seems to be choosing the "supermarket strategy" to QSR -- that customers will go where they can get just about anything anyone in the family wants instead of the "best" burger or chicken or fish chain. That has worked for Kroger for a long time. But I'm not so sure it will work in any restaurant market that has a population large enough to support something other than the local diner.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2016

    Starbucks leverages barista creativity to drive sales

    Starbucks customers accept and appreciate the creativity of "their passion." So this fits for Starbucks. But who approves the drink or says if it is even any good? Leaving this to the barista (my guess) might be OK for Starbucks. And their customers will probably forgive them if they roll the dice on a "barista special" and really don't like it. Perhaps Starbucks offers (or should) a free replacement with a regular drink if the customer spits the "special" out?I don't think this is a good idea for most fast casual chains though. And certainly not for QSRs.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2016

    Can retailers inspire greater sales using Pinterest?

    WARNING. Personal (and painful) story to follow.I was invited to attend a client's strategic planning session a few years back. Advisors from other fields also attended -- including their e-commerce agency. Part of their presentation addressed a (then) somewhat new platform called Pinterest. From the sidelines I remarked "Pinterest sucks."The agency presenter looked at me and said "excuse me?"I repeated, "Pinterest sucks.""Well!" she replied "Perhaps if you are a Boomer male -- but not if you are a Millennial!""It has already cost me one remodeled bathroom and I'm staring at a kitchen remodel next month thanks to that site," I replied. "Pinterest sucks!"Effective? Absolutely!
  • Posted on: 10/17/2016

    Should in-store associates help online browsers?

    I generally agree with Chris. But my first thought was that this would be a way to regain the personal experience of "my guy/gal" at stores with high touch products like clothing or sporting gear. I think I would be much more likely to stay engaged with a single retailer if my in-store and online experiences could be linked through a single trusted representative.We stayed with Verizon for years longer than financially justified simply because "Jeff" at our local store also gave his cell/email to "his" customers. It's hard to break customer service bonds that include a face and name.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2016

    Pharmacy charges ‘man tax’

    "Posters charged that the chain was conducting in reverse sexism."Just a perhaps inconvenient point of order. Why is this "reverse sexism"? Isn't discrimination or demeaning of another sex "sexism" — period?
  • Posted on: 10/14/2016

    Target to test vertical farms in stores

    You gotta love the fit of this with where Target wants to go with food -- image wise, that is. The limits of production can be stretched with hydroponics and vertical farming -- but not broken. So this will remain primarily an image-generating exercise for the near future. The only risk I see for Target is if they start merchandising ALL the parsley in front of the grow pod -- insinuating that that's where it came from -- when the most likely case is that only a small portion of it, occasionally, came from there and the rest came on a truck. Now, as for those "grow lights" -- I seem to remember seeing them in a few rooms in the fraternity house? But they sure worked well ...
  • Posted on: 10/11/2016

    Should retail prices in-store be the same as online?

    Nikki, I was going to post on this thread — even though late to the party this morning. Then I read your post and realized I didn't need to. Couldn't agree more and I'd rec you multiple times if I could.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2016

    Target piloting Amazon Alexa voice search rival

    Solo NLP initiatives will be limited in their usefulness. They may well follow the path of solo payment apps -- inconvenience devolving into irrelevance. Retailers will initially be better off to maximize their position with "The NLP Trio" (Alexa, Siri and the newcomer Google Now, which needs a better name). Consumers will value breadth of access from a single app they are comfortable with and won't want to have to adapt to a dozen different retailers' apps anymore than they wanted to learn to use a dozen different mobile payment apps. This will eventually change, however, when "voice-activated" becomes generic. It will become the way we interact with practically everything in the IoT.Personally, I'm really looking forward to being able to ask my Samsung refrigerator to pour me a glass of Far Niente or a Glenlivet on the rocks.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2016

    Will customers give Amazon the keys to their smart homes?

    Some people have security concerns about IoT -- some embrace it as the ultimate answer to a more convenient and relaxed lifestyle. Some won't trust a delivery person with an access code to their house -- but a significant percentage already trust a maid service with access to their house. Or a part-time caregiver for the elderly. Or a child-care aid. In-car delivery is already happening in a number of European tests by Volvo, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Our cars are somewhat less personal than our homes, granted. But in-car delivery still involves trusting a system of technology and people. In-home will be a higher hurdle but it will happen.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2016

    Costco sticking to store-first approach

    "Anytime, anywhere shopping" does not mean all within one retailer's ecosystem. Indeed, that would be a classically myopic retailer view of how consumers view shopping. Consumers have a set of acceptable retailers to fill each orbit of their own ecosystem -- which revolves around them, not Amazon, Costco, Kroger or Circle K. What Costco is choosing to do is to be the go-to choice for consumers whose ecosystem includes club or warehouse stores. And that's a smart focus.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2016

    Are private labels the key to beating Amazon?

    Is it completely impossible for us to learn that a "private label" is simply another brand owned by a retailer instead of a manufacturer or third party? That the sole differentiating factor of that brand — beyond all of the elements of quality, design, price, etc. that are common across all brands — is that it is exclusively available at one retailer? And the most commonly exploited of the common elements by private label is price (though some retailers know and do better to be sure!).Now we are discussing the advantages of expanding distribution of a private brand to other retail outlets — and perhaps even the great Satan itself Amazon?!?! (BTW, that isn't necessarily a bad strategy IF you have a good brand. Sears Holdings is probably making more profit off Craftsman brand sales in other outlets than they are in their own stores.)But how is this going to provide differential advantage against Amazon's core benefits of instant accessibility and near-infinite selection? All with "free" delivery? I just don't see it, folks.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2016

    Can pop-ups wake up mall traffic?

    The move to "entertainment center + shopping" has been great for malls in our area. Pop-ups are great for variety and novelty — especially unique ideas like the Museum of Ice Cream. The danger for the anchor stores is that they lose shopper attention. But if you have no traffic, you are dead anyway, so the pop-ups can't hurt — at least initially. But too many pop-ups makes for mall-turned-bazaar-turned-carnival. Sooner or later the novelty wears off and traffic dies. And no one remembers why they used to go to the mall in the first place.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2016

    Schnucks bans solicitors from outside its stores

    I see this as a goose and gander issue. No doubt many will decry the decision to ban the Salvation Army and the Girl Scouts because they are "good organizations." But how many of those same folks would be upset if a legalized marijuana group set up in front of their local grocery store and would demand that the store either banish them or face the media barrage and calls for boycotts sure to follow? We're either tolerant or we aren't. (Caveat: I have no idea whether any of this played into Schnucks' thinking -- or rather if they are just putting up a stonewall to the unions. It could very easily be the latter.)
  • Posted on: 09/01/2016

    Amazon to test 30-hour week

    This concept has great merit for semi-retirees who want to ease their way out and for folks who want or need a reduced involvement in their careers. Testing the concept with complete "work groups" as I have read Amazon will do to keep the work flow consistent across a team seems to me to be a recipe for reduced productivity. Either that or the teams will prove that they really can accomplish as much in a highly-focused 30-hour week as they can in a 40-hour week that almost certainly includes some "me time." That just may prove true. But I don't see how the company can maintain equal "career tracks" between the 30 and 40(+) hour workers. It can work fine in small firms. But I doubt it can work in corporations -- even one as inventive as Amazon.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2016

    Is the Millennial car shopper Amazon’s next big audience?

    This just may be the Armageddon of show rooming. The pitched battle that will ensue when Amazon starts offering to fulfill the order for a vehicle the customer "specs out" at the dealer showroom will be epic. On top of the deep dealer contract obligations there are state-by-state legal restrictions in place to protect those dealerships as well. Just ask Tesla. But this will happen. And eventually those dealers will be fulfilling orders for Amazon -- just like they do for Costco shoppers.

Contact Ben