PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 10/18/2017

    Online and Amazon to grow more dominant over the next decade

    You can't fight statistics -- so the pace of online sales growth in the highest penetration categories (hard/dry goods) will slow percentage-wise but still represent the bulk of the dollar growth in online sales. In CPG, the online penetration of HBC is already in the 20s as well, so food is likely to be the highest percentage gainer. Our own estimates show FTI may be a bit conservative in forecasting total food penetration to stay in the single digits. Growth in the non-perishable center store categories will lead the way to what we think will be the 10 percent-plus range by 2022. That expectation is based on the acceleration curve of adoption rates in online grocery versus the early trend lines for more developed categories now. Could be right, could be wrong -- it's not a "statistic" until it happens.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Is Kroger in denial about the magnitude of its challenges?

    "It's really, really different this time. No, really it is!" (And the end of the world is just days away ... )Kroger has been doing this right for a long time. Just like Walmart, they have a solid core strategy and a management team that knows how to adapt it to current trends (notice I said trends -- not fads). Some of the changes Kroger is testing will have a big impact on their e-commerce/delivery business in the future.As usual, the predictions of the end of the world are premature.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Amazon has plans to deliver packages to car trunks

    Unlike in-home delivery, which consumers consider quite intrusive, the car trunk seems to be an acceptable location for many consumers. The tests in Europe, first by Volvo and then by Amazon with Audi and Daimler, were generally considered successful. Given the American car culture and our dependence on driving to work, this may be even more attractive to all but the urban public transport commuter.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Is Ace on-brand with The Grommet acquisition?

    Behind every DIYer is a closet "tinkerer" -- most of us like to figure things out for ourselves. So we really admire and pull for the little guy who builds a better mousetrap. Ace has already done a great job leveraging attributes like selection and associate knowledge to differentiate from the Lowe's/Home Depot experience. It seems like a natural for them to be the champion of inventors through The Grommet. I think this acquisition reinforces the core of what makes Ace different from the typical DIY big box store. Good move.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Walmart seeks online edge with 35-second returns

    The oft forgotten second clause of Sam Walton's credo of saving middle Americans money was " ... to make their lives better" (paraphrased). Walmart seems to be focusing more on that important second part of the "why" behind lower prices these days. This is a great example, in the spirit of L.L. Bean's no-questions-asked returns policy. The legend will do a lot more good than the actual behavior.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2017

    Are retailers confusing customer service with the customer experience?

    Hear, hear! My first reaction as well, Max. It doesn't matter whether your "experience" is bargain or the best -- you have got to make it easy for the customer to get it.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2017

    What does all the noise around Amazon’s ‘Seller Flex’ program mean?

    Amazon's most critical differentiator versus both online and brick-and-mortar is their superior delivery and return experience. They just make it too darned convenient and painless to want to go anywhere else. This is another step in eliminating a discordant note sometimes introduced by third-party vendors. Whether Amazon will share that advantage with competitors the way they have SAS is a big question mark in my mind. Admittedly, it would fit the model to date. But these are the family jewels we are talking about.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2017

    Walmart deal shows it’s serious about same-day delivery

    I'd say it means they are seriously "thinking about it." Parcel in and of itself isn't much of a dent in the home delivery market, even with NYC, but it is a great petri dish. Walmart has a history of toe-in-the-water testing and, outside of jet.com, we are simply seeing that continue in the e-commerce/delivery space.The way this fits into the larger picture of how retailers learn to understand and serve consumers' core motivations in shopping is intriguing though. Retailers seem to have been looking for some halfway measure -- any halfway measure -- that could satisfy convenience short of outright same-day home delivery (preferably "free," which I believe subscription or membership services qualify as perceptually). That is understandable given the economics involved. But once consumers have bitten the Prime same-day service apple that horse has left the barn. And it is gone folks. No halfway measures need apply. Figure it out.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2017

    Jet.com is stepping out of Walmart’s shadow

    I'm guessing you and I are going to be in the minority of opinion on this one Camille, so I'm just going to hide under your post if you don't mind. ;-)This strategy makes sense for Jet -- perhaps -- though I'm not sure how it goes beyond just another Amazon wannabe. What it definitely does not do is help Walmart build their relevancy to value-seeking Millennials and others -- the core Walmart shopper of the future. For Walmart to do that their e-commerce offerings must continue to evolve with their shopper.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2017

    Will customers let Walmart deliver in-fridge?

    The biggest news here is Walmart's willingness to experiment with projects that challenge conventional retail norms. They have always been prolific experimenters, though most consumers haven't seen them as such. Initiatives like these work to change consumers' perception overall. It is the retail equivalent of "unearned media."In-home delivery (along with direct-to-your-car delivery and others that require consumers to allow one-time access to their property) is viable. But the number of consumers who will become comfortable with that degree of intrusion on their personal space is going to be very limited. Most of us just aren't wired that way -- yet.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2017

    Will Target’s wage hikes be a differentiator?

    I like the headline question better, "Will Target's wage hikes be a differentiator?"Of course not. Shoppers don't know or care how much employees at a store are paid. They only care about their own shopping experience. And I doubt you can find any shopper who will include "the employees are really well paid" in an unprompted post-shop interview.The argument for better motivated and engaged employees is appealing -- but we forget our management psychology classes at our own peril. Money is not a long-term motivator -- but not having it can be a powerful demotivator. So is Target's $11 enough of an improvement on the human condition to meaningfully change how its employees treat shoppers? Guess we'll see.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2017

    Goodwill finds the need to spin off a down-market concept

    " The pilot comes as a response to feedback from core shoppers who said they miss the way Goodwill used to be."Than line kept bugging me. It makes me wonder if the issue here is that retailers are leaving their core shoppers behind with price as they move upscale. Or is it that their core shopper simply likes the way the store used to look and feel? Value shopping is a necessity for a lot of consumers for sure, but there are also plenty who do it to meet an emotional or psychological need to feel they are being frugal. Frugality can be a virtue in and of itself.Some examples:
    • That infamous "soccer mom in a Gucci tennis outfit, filling up her BMW at the self-service pump" that marketers all talked about in the '80s.
    • Walmart knew their shoppers were buying mid-range wines so they added them as part of their ill-fated "upscaling" experiment. But they found that their shoppers didn't want to buy those wines at Walmart. That's not the point. Walmart is for bargains, and they didn't drink "bargain wine."
    • My own wife will see how much of the shopping list she can fill at Family Dollar before heading over to Publix to finish the shopping for a family gathering. She doesn't have to -- she just thinks it is smart and it makes her feel good.
    For years one of the big three retailers in Sydney was a discounter called Franklin's. The stores were a complete mess. When our DSD folks tried to straighten things up they were reprimanded by the store managers. Franklin's wanted the store to look like the merchandise should be cheap.Sometimes there is a lot to be said for just being what you are.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2017

    Kohl’s to accept product returns for Amazon

    It's too early to say for sure of course, but it sure looks like Kohl's is doing the dry goods version of the Whole Foods Waltz.Kohl's has always been a very solid retailer. They have enough locations to make a tie-in viable for Amazon as a leap into brick-and-mortar dry goods.
  • 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!

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