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: 09/18/2017

    Did this startup make a big mistake calling itself Bodega?

    First, this concept has been around for years. One of the earliest iterations was called an "honor box" and they sat in locations too small to host even a vending machine. Generally speaking, the patrons and employees or residents of such a location are quite happy to have them. So happy they actually pay for the merchandise. Immediacy is a wonderful thing when you are talking about availability.Calling the unit Bodega is simply calling it what it is. A small assortment of frequently purchased merchandise with the primary benefit being located closer to the consumerSecond, a minor terminology beef. The proper term for this concept is automated merchandising -- not vending machine. The difference became quite clear as we worked with the Redbox team on their rollout. You would be correct to call that difference subtle -- even philosophical -- but the thought process of a merchant versus that of someone filling a machine to meet demand is a huge difference. I have often drawn the distinction between Private (or Proprietary) Brands and private label on this site. (I capitalize Private Brands because we capitalize brand names -- and Private Brands are, in the truest sense, brands. Not cheaper imitations of national brands with the retailer's name slapped on them.)
  • Posted on: 09/15/2017

    Do retailers need teen consultants to really understand Gen Z?

    First of all, congratulations to Jonah Stillman for understanding the value of screaming " ... but we're different ...," professionally speaking that is. He is of course correct in his assertions that the latest iteration of teens has adapted the traits displayed by every generation of teens (independence, a desire to do things "differently," maybe even a little rebellion) to the specific events that have shaped their lives. And retailers need to acknowledge those nuances in their products and messaging. But this is just the latest iteration in the cycle -- not anything really new. I had to Google it, but James Dean starred in "Rebel Without A Cause" in 1955. Same sentiments -- different generation. Again, kudos to Jonah for learning to play our game at such an early age. We might be looking at a future president folks!
  • Posted on: 09/15/2017

    Will Postmates’ on-demand delivery work better as a subscription model?

    Subscription fees tend to "disappear" as a sunk cost in consumers' minds -- one of the reasons Costco and Amazon Prime are successful -- and the same will happen for Prime. I agree with Max Goldberg though, too many options and too many variables. I would still feel at risk using this service without a guaranteed flat fee.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2017

    Is BOPIS degrading the in-store experience?

    Absolutely! I couldn't agree with Bob's premise more. When brands begin to promote to attract customers who only buy on deal, they are acknowledging that their offering does not warrant the full retail price from all their customers all the time. When retailers finally move the bread and milk to the front of the store next to the express or self checkout lanes, they are acknowledging that shoppers don't want their entire "store experience" all the time. BOPIS is simply acknowledging that for some purchases some customers do not want the store experience at all.I think it is important to make a distinction between BOPIS and home delivery here too. Home delivery offers a benefit of added convenience. I can shop at midnight and never leave my house to complete a purchase. BOPIS does not offer that convenience. I still have to go to the store. So the "benefit" of BOPIS is simply the avoidance of a negative -- the full store experience. Retailers should be paying very close attention to which customers use BOPIS and for which purchases. They are telling retailers what they really don't like about their stores.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2017

    Professor says price gouging is simple supply and demand at work

    I concur that price controls just feel wrong in a free society. Being free means being free to be stupid, frivolous or greedy. But there is always a price to be paid. American Airlines (and perhaps others -- I happened to be on AA this weekend) notified travelers that they could change their travel plans at no charge due to the storm. And fellow travelers in O'Hare told of AA selling them tickets from Miami to O'Hare for $99 on the day of the flight. In contrast, some retailers suddenly wanted $25 for a case of water. Guess which will be remembered and rewarded (or punished) in the coming months by affected consumers? Letting the free economy work makes sense -- particularly in the long term -- even though it can be very painful in the present.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2017

    Professor says price gouging is simple supply and demand at work

    Whether pricing is gouging or balancing supply and demand is all about perception. Is the pricing action balancing the value of good caviar with supply this year? Or is the pricing extracting exorbitant temporary premiums from ordinary people for a commodity they need? The difference between gouging and balancing is glaringly obvious to all. Arguments to the contrary may gain a passing grade from your economics professor -- but they will fail miserably with John Q. Public.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2017

    Is Kohl’s giving away the store to Amazon?

    While it is too late in the day to impact the discussion much, I still have to go beyond the "thumbs up" button I just clicked and post a hearty agreement with your reasoning Mohamed. I think you hit this one right on the head. And I agree that this is another typically smart move for Kohl's.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2017

    Do grocers need to reset the center store?

    The pro of intermingling versions of a given product or category on the shelf is that there is no clear standard for "healthy" versus "not healthy." Rather we have variations of physical attributes (low trans fats, gluten free, organic, all natural) that represent some range of "healthiness" to consumers. To complicate matters further, different consumers have different health triggers. A person with celiac issues has different triggers from a heart patient avoiding cholesterol. The most obvious way to show consumers their range of choices is to merchandise them in some logical sequence. What that logical sequence is -- not to mention a clear definition of some of the triggers themselves -- remains to be seen.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Will AI mimicry ruin online user-generated reviews?

    Fake reviews are already a problem online. Until now, we relied mainly on the number of reviews available for a product or service to decide how much credibility to put on them. The theory being that fake reviews were less likely to be a meaningful percentage of total reviews posted. AI makes that a useless tactic.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Five pain points grocers must address to survive in an Amazon/Whole Foods world

    Amazon is going to be the source of the retail equivalent of the "3G effect" for CPG manufacturers (3G Capital's penchant for zero-based budgeting and drastic cost reductions when they acquire a company). But for retailers it won't be so much "costs" in the traditional sense of people, departments and spending. Instead it is going to be inefficiencies and merchandising sacred cows. Maintaining the traditional checkout process in the name of "reducing shrink" and "impulse sales" is a good example -- the equivalent of putting the milk in the back of the store to force shoppers on a fill-in trip to walk past the produce, bakery and deli in hopes of an impulse purchase there. Retailing will have to transition from a focus on serving consumers effectively to a focus on serving them efficiently.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2017

    Will smart homes be sold in living rooms?

    I agree Ryan, at least to the extent that the need for in-home consultation is based on technological savvy. But I think there is also a "designer element" to setting up an IoT-enabled home that really optimizes the experience. It's more than just knowing how to operate the elements sometimes. For example, we are setting up a new home at the moment. We need blinds. We know how to operate blinds. I know how to install blinds. But we still had a parade of Hunter Douglas et al reps through the house before settling on a solution. If you just want Alexa to dim the lights that's one thing. But getting a true smart home setup going is as much art as science with all the options available.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2017

    Are Whole Foods’ price cuts game-changing for food retailing?

    If retailer stock prices are any indication, it already has! What those stock analysts are baking into their decisions is the fundamental impact Amazon has on any retail category when it enters. The "Prime Nation" is immediately much more likely to shop the category online than before. Whether this will translate to the Prime Nation being more willing to shop in Whole Foods retail locations could be questioned, but I'm betting on a yes. The reason is simple. Whole Foods already has a great reputation for quality and shopping experience. About the only reason shoppers don't go there is price. When Whole Foods is integrated into the Prime shopping solution as the brick-and-mortar destination/pickup location/showroom for the Prime Nation this is going to be very compelling. And Amazon will do everything it can to make that happen -- this price cut is just the PR shot across the bow.
  • Posted on: 08/22/2017

    Will Amazon’s two-minute pickup service appeal to students?

    Two-minute pickup? Uh ... wouldn't that be called a store?The concept sounds exciting and I'm not surprised to see Amazon go there, but it throws them into the same dilemma brick-and-mortar retailers have faced for centuries -- what's the right location? If it's not convenient to the shopper it is of little incremental use compared to the closest convenience store or Best Buy. Partnering with a c-store chain (or as Target has done with Barnes & Noble's campus bookstore division) could take this to a much more viable level in a hurry however.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    Will Timberland climb to greater heights behind new experiential concept?

    As a long time Timberland customer I have always thought of the brand as "experiential" -- sort of an L.L. Bean meets Indiana Jones experiential. Perhaps Timberland will use this concept to determine which sorts of experiences resonate with consumers and can fit under the Timberland umbrella. It seems to me that many of these flagship experiential stores are really being used as retail learning labs. That could have a very rewarding ROI indeed for retailers who are able to incorporate and extend the learning to their core positioning.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    How should vendors respond to Walmart’s reluctance to raise prices?

    There is one thing about the whole pricing argument that puzzles me. If the issue for Walmart is "maintaining pricing relative to other retailers" then a blanket increase of equal magnitude for all customers from a vendor should not disrupt that status quo. That assumes that all retailers will maintain their current margins on the vendors' new list price of course -- but if all grocery retailers are working as close to the bone as they claim on margin it seems logical that they would.Perhaps vendors should not start their pricing discussions with Walmart, but end them there instead. Unless they fear that Walmart would try to gain even more advantage against the market by still refusing the price increase ...

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