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: 12/02/2016

    Will Starbucks be the same without Howard Schultz as CEO?

    As an occasional customer, this doesn't worry me at all.As a commentator, I think Kevin Johnson is as well prepared as anyone can be to assume an iconic CEO role.As a long-time shareholder, this scares the heck out of me.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2016

    Is transparency next for grocery private label?

    Let's take this as a two-part question:
    1. Should private brands exercise the same level of "transparency" in terms of fully labeling contents, ingredients, processing, etc.? Yes.
    2. Is there a benefit to private brands disclosing who co-packs the product for them? Absolutely not. The value of a brand is the trust consumer's place in it. Do you want to consumer to trust Publix? Or General Mills? Consumers already know that a number of private brand items come off the same production lines as some other brand in the category. But there is no benefit I can see to declaring that on the private brand product. And I suspect doing so would push a number of national brand manufacturers to leave the private brand co-packing field altogether.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2016

    Can engagement replace transaction rewards?

    Frankly, I tend to look at this equation from the other end of the street. I do not become more engaged in brands by completing surveys. On the contrary, I only complete surveys for brands in which I am already heavily engaged. For example, Woodworking Magazine regularly surveys me on which topics I most want to see articles about or which cover is most likely to get me to buy the magazine on a news stand. I respond because I know this influences my likelihood of getting the content I want. As for increasing purchase intent in a brand I am less engaged with, the impact is roughly equivalent to a price incentive -- is it so cheap that I say "what the heck?" -- with about the same level of impact on my likelihood of repurchase: none.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2016

    Is Chobani smart to open cafés in grocery stores?

    High marks for creativity and added interest to the Target environment. The first question that comes to mind is that of the payout for Target. If it is a fixed rent deal they are evidently happy with it. If it is a revenue share it is a much dicier proposition since Chobani's initial efforts seem to be more promotional than profitable. And, of course, there is the question of how Chobani looks at this on the P&L. Is it a revenue generator or a promotional expense? Very different success criteria apply given that answer.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2016

    Ten tips to a stress-free, enjoyable and productive holiday

    Imagine that every customer you serve is a family member or close friend that you want to have a really great holiday. Sure, there will be surly customers that make this practically impossible -- but just think of how those surly relatives calm down when you treat them with a little respect and understanding. It doesn't always work. But you never feel bad about yourself for trying.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2016

    Will Donald Trump’s presidency be good for retailers?

    Al, I am not surprised by your perspective — but to be fair, isn't the RW staff always telling us to check politics at the door? (Which is PRECISELY why I have stayed out of this discussion by the way. As you well know, my views are dearly held and difficult to repress once my fingers hit the keyboard!)Have a good day and join me in collectively hoping that this all works out OK. Just like we did in 2008.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2016

    The drive-thru of the future

    Starbucks has it right in focusing on the barista/customer interaction. (There's a great YouTube video of a customer ordering her coffee in sign language at the interactive kiosk.) But that's because the barista is a unique part of the Starbucks experience. I don't know about you, but I seldom have any sort of connection with the counter person at McDonald's.Creating an order process that allows the customer to effortlessly and accurately customize their order from a broader selection than a menu board offers is one improvement that will add value. Mobile apps have great potential for that. But the most fundamental value of the drive-thru is still convenience. And speed is a "YUGE" component of convenience. The technology that will revolutionize drive-thru is the one that will allow multiple customers to be served simultaneously to reduce wait times -- without causing auto accidents or requiring the space of a Walmart parking lot.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2016

    Will a national loyalty program yield rewards for Whole Foods?

    Of course they will. Just look at how the devoted legions of Starbucks loyalists focus on their program. And no, it won't alleviate the Whole Paycheck image -- at least, not if they do it correctly. The kind of loyalty program that will work for Whole Foods is focused on making good customers feel really special. Not on making occasional shoppers feel like they got a deal.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2016

    Can retailers overcome the challenges of urban deliveries?

    I have just one word for you -- "lockers."Within a year it will be a popular selling feature for multi-unit buildings and within five it will be standard.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2016

    Does talking to a human still matter?

    Roughly paraphrased: "...our goal at Amazon is to automate every task possible, reserving our human capital for only the most complex tasks..."Some guy named Jeff BezosI guess great minds do think alike.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2016

    Does talking to a human still matter?

    I believe two things are true. First, AI will eventually replace 99 percent of online customer service interactions. Second, retailers will start using it before it is ready.There are two continua that have to be considered here. The first is AI's ability to interact like a human. That will increase over time. The second is the degree to which the population is willing to accept AI. That will be a function of generation, education and aptitude for machines. I don't consider myself particularly tech-friendly, but I've been amazed at how quickly I became comfortable asking Alexa the weather or the Cubs' score.The integration of the two continua will be complete when AI is so good at replicating human interaction that those in the long tail of the anti-machine continuum can't tell they are talking to one -- or don't care.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2016

    Should Bass Pro retire the Cabela’s name?

    Lots of great comments here, but one I am shocked is missing so far and another common theme I will take some small exception with. With all the talk of the Macy's/Field's integration model, I'm surprised there has been no mention of the most successful integration model in retailing -- Kroger. Kroger buys strength and then looks to integrate as much synergy as possible into maintaining that strength, not destroying it. Part of that is avoiding geographic overlap with their acquisitions but that can also apply to avoiding brand appeal overlap. A lot of this business is catalog/online these days, so overlapping shoppers is inevitable. But until the recent spate of store expansion by both there was little geographic overlap in their brick-and-mortar footprints. It was Cabela's to the West and Bass Pro the the (South) East with the assorted Gander Mountain and Academy Sports thrown in between.As a lifelong customer of both brands, I simply don't see the differentiation between hunting and fishing that others have mentioned. My best fly rods are from Cabela's (not counting the Orvis rods of course!). And I have bought hunting gear of all manner, including firearms, from Bass Pro.So, my bottom line would be to manage the two brands in brick-and-mortar -- initially. Begin the merger of the brands online -- focusing Cabela's on hunting/camping and Bass Pro on fishing if that seems right is fine. But do it gradually. Maintain the separate store geographic footprints and clean up the small overlaps recently created. Only combine store nameplates when and if the online combination becomes accepted -- maybe in as long as 10 years.
  • 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!

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