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: 06/23/2017

    Should brands ditch the slang?

    +1. (Oops, is that "slang")You hit the key points in less than 100 key strokes, Tom. It's all about authenticity. As a fan of edgy writing -- often employing my native colloquialisms in my analogies and commentary -- I have learned first hand that it doesn't always work for everyone. And that is coming from an individual. For a brand the bar goes much, much higher. One of the best examples of successful use of slang by a brand far predated Twitter. That was the use of the Chester Cheetah character for the Cheetos brand. The Cheetos mouse could never have gotten away with the persona that Chester could carry as a "cool dude in a loose mood."And one of the worst examples comes from the same brand stable -- one that shows that it goes beyond authenticity and extends to the tone struck with all your audiences. While still the highest recall advertising ever done for the Fritos Brand, and although only being on air for less than 18 months, the Frito Bandito hit all the wrong notes at the wrong time for a large part of the brand audience.To quote Augustus Macrae in Lonesome Dove, "Aye god Woodrow, this is tricky business ... "
  • Posted on: 06/22/2017

    Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices?

    Hi Ron: Late to the party today so nothing of substance to add -- but I am curious about your experience with Costco digital marketing. I get emails with weekly flyers, one-off specials and other "treasure hunt temptations" at the rate of two or more a week.As far as I know, the only thing that I have done "special" is order from a few times and not opt "out" of their emails.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Will UPS’s Black Friday delivery surcharge have retailers seeing red?

    Consumers will wind up paying for this. They always do. They pay for everything. The only question is how the "Value Added Tax" (aka the variable margin earned) gets distributed among all the participants in the supply chain.In this case, I predict that the retailer's variable margin earned on peak holiday sales just decreased by 27 cents per package. As for consumer shopping behavior changing, retailers treat customers the way grandparents treat new babies -- who's going to be the first one to tell them no?
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    How smart is’s decision to delist Costco’s Kirkland brand?

    If Walmart/Sam's is truly serious about offering superior products with Member's Mark, they are missing a heck of an opportunity here! Like many here, I am a complete Costco/Kirkland convert. I would never try a Member's Mark branded product -- even if the description or price of that product could tempt me to -- because I will never see it.So! If Sam's Club wants to tempt me with competitive Member's Mark offerings that are now as good as, or better than both national brands and Kirkland, why not merchandise them on the website right next to the comparable Kirkland product? Offer me an incentive to try the Member's Mark brand when I put the Kirkland item in my shopping cart. That's competitive marketing strategy!Phil Kotler would be ashamed.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Has Rainbow Shops created a compensation model aligned with omnichannel realities?

    Hi Alex! Not sure if I have seen you post before -- but I like the way you think!Treating an area or vertical or population segment -- pick the right segmentation scheme for your business -- as one integrated population to be served through multiple channels is absolutely the future.As for the downsides, the biggest is that employees in the brick-and-mortar channel begin to depend on the ever-growing online sales to generate their paychecks for them.With regards to the Rainbow Shops system -- I am curious as to why they structured store returns of online purchases as a "negative sale" for the store? If they somehow know that the item was purchased online (and it appears they do) why not have the store account for that return in some "off the store books" system instead of letting it penalize the store?
  • Posted on: 06/12/2017

    Could ’embeddables’ in wearable tech give brands a clearer view of consumers?

    First of all, let's all agree that embedded tech in practically everything imaginable is going to happen as the IoT sweeps the consumer consciousness. But the real question is going to be, what changes people's habits -- their lives? Those are the uses of technology that will last.But there's a funny thing about human behavior -- it's hard to change. Exhibit A: the news piece this weekend about companies that reward (or disincent) employees based on their fitness behaviors. One example is issuing FitBits to all employees that report the total steps per day the employee takes to HR. Rewards (or penalties) are based on reaching certain goals. The internet is filled with "FitBit hacks" -- creative ways to get your "steps" in while watching TV. My favorite was wrapping the device in socks and then throwing it in the dryer. Thirty minutes with no heat gets you 10,000 steps. Brilliant! And oh so human.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Is IKEA really going to start selling on Amazon’s Marketplace?

    You have to be in the mix to have a chance. And for shoppers not near an IKEA warehouse or for those who automatically start all buying searches with Amazon, if IKEA is not on Amazon they are not in the mix. It's just that simple.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Is it time for stores to ditch the free Wi-Fi?

    Free Wi-Fi service should be an expected part of the store environment. It costs practically nothing to offer and customers connecting to the store's service (usually automatically after the first log-in) may be more apt to click through on offers that may be pushed to their phone. Of course that activity has to be VERY minimal and non-intrusive or it quickly becomes a big negative.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2017

    Is the ‘exosuit’ the breakthrough the wearables market has been waiting for?

    The big market for functional wearables should be the Boomers. We don't want to look, feel and act 60+. We want to work and play the same way we did when we were 30. A wearable that would let me spend all day on the farm or in the woodshop without aches and pains would be in my closet ASAP.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Should Amazon buy Macy’s?

    Gotta join in on the "Yeah, Dick!" chorus here. Amazon looking at Whole Foods (perishables/impulse grocery) is an entirely different focus than looking at Macy's. About the only thing they have in common is "brick and mortar" -- and that's not a strategy. Besides, as others have pointed out, Amazon is well on its way to becoming the leading apparel retailer on its own.And as for the idea of "needing a physical place for returns" -- a brief story. (You knew there had to be one.) This morning on the way to work, my wife commented on how incredibly easy the return process (for an apparel item I ordered in the wrong size) had been. Online to Prime, click on the order, check the reason for return and up pops the prepaid UPS shipping label ready to be printed. Took less than 30 seconds for the whole thing. Her comment? "Returning things at Amazon is so much easier than doing it at a store!"No, Amazon does not need Macy's.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    Will pop-up only malls catch on?

    The iconic Middle Eastern bazaar makes a comeback in an indoor urban or suburban environment. What's not to like? This may not be able to sustain a mall on its own. But couple it with a good entertainment and a food destination offering and you have a winner!
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is Walmart on track to offer customers a seamless shopping experience?

    Your comment that "Brands need a strong online counterweight to Amazon ... " got me thinking Ken. While you are clearly correct -- I wonder how much the brands will wind up liking the "Walmart counterweight"? It may very quickly follow that those brands experience what they did in the brick-and-mortar world and it becomes "the weight of Walmart" again. Only made even heavier this time with the addition of e-commerce.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is influencer marketing all that it’s cracked up to be?

    Influencer marketing online started out as the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth. And as the author points out from the McKinsey study, that is incredibly effective. But it is very quickly headed toward "paid endorser" status and will carry with it all the attendant pitfalls. Pepsico offered plenty of good (and not so good) experience with that.From a very successful run with a smiling Jay Leno crunching Doritos to flaming pop star curls, the yin and yang of influencer/endorser marketing strategies became all too apparent. Internet marketers will experience the same. The two keys to success are 1.) keeping your influencer relevant -- a small-time food blogger who specializes in sous vide cooking will do much better than Rachael Ray if you are selling that equipment and, 2.) beware the personal lives and characters of "celebrity" influencers you engage purely for their notoriety and reach. As one former CPG marketer used to say, "Notoriety is only one step away from notorious."
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is Walmart on track to offer customers a seamless shopping experience?

    Two very important points here. First, any retailer generating same-store sales growth in the current environment is doing very well on the brick-and-mortar front. Second, McMillon did not just buy to jump-start Walmart's e-commerce business -- he bought (rented?) Mark Lore. With that move Walmart got someone who a.) knows how Bezos thinks and operates and b.) has a very compelling reason to want to compete successfully with Amazon. As long as Lore stays with Walmart you can expect a very aggressive -- and pretty successful -- Walmart e-commerce effort.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2017

    Will consumers decide meal kits just aren’t worth buying?

    OK, it's story time.I grew up in a rural southern home. Biscuits were a daily staple. Mom had a flour bin built into her counter and the Crisco ("shortening") was always sitting on the counter top right beside her dough board and rolling pin. (The rolling pin was occasionally put to use in alternative functions -- but that is a different kind of story.)Fast forward to a newly minted MBA sashaying through the doors of General Mills on his first day in the Betty Crocker Division. My inaugural morning included a trip to the Betty Crocker kitchens. A most wonderful, magical and delicious place where wonderful cooks developed recipes for consumers and allowed starving young brand managers to schedule "cuttings" to taste their treats. One of the ladies had a box of something I hadn't seen before on her work station. It was called "Bisquick." When I inquired about the product and its purpose I learned that it was used to make biscuits. Its primary consumer benefit was that the "shortening" was already mixed with the flour so all the consumer had to do was add water. I found that a little funny, until I ventured back to my desk and looked up this strange concoction's list price and profit margins. I never again questioned what the American consumer will pay for "convenience."

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