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: 01/18/2017

    Is Net Promoter Score flawed?

    First, I'm not a huge fan of Net Promoter — but there's nothing inherently "wrong" with it either.The measure simply has to be taken in context. It is not a good predictor of future behavior if your standard is "how many of those people will actually go on to recommend me." But it is a pretty clever surrogate for sussing out the true level of a customer's satisfaction with their experience(s) to date.The one technical bone I would pick (unfortunately forcing me to sort of agree with Ryan) is that the question should be binary — YES or NO — introducing the nuance of a Likert scale is contrary to the notion of getting a simple answer to a simple question. And while I gotta believe they have some, I have never seen any statistical justification for the breaks between 1-6; 7-8 and 9-10.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2017

    What made Wendy’s Twitter zing a win?

    "Every brand has permission to be real."Love that line, Tom. So how about the corollary -- "every brand has a requirement to be real"? Knowing a bit about cereal brands (hey, I was on the Wheaties box -- no, for real!) Cheerios does not have permission to praise Prince in any way shape or form. I'm sure the current stewards of that brand were sincere in expressing their own feelings and personalities -- but the problem is that it does not fit the brand's personality, and that's what counts.Branding is more about what you have to leave out than what you can add in. I didn't say that first. In fact, I seem to recall that it was the creative head at an agency that once handled Cheerios' advertising. But that was long ago in a time when a young marketing guy could get paid a dollar to "model" the windbreaker promotion for the photo on the BACK of the Wheaties box. ;-)
  • Posted on: 01/17/2017

    Sir Richard Branson at NRF: Are retailers looking outside the box?

    Even in retailing, Branson concentrated on a core product area for clarity of brand -- music. That focus is what enables a brand to create values that can be leveraged and transcend sectors. Paula's example of Porsche imagery is a great one. Most of our U.S. retailers -- especially grocery, mass, convenience and department stores have built their business on "being a place to buy other people's stuff." (Our relatively late realization of the role of proprietary brand versus private label being a feeble exception.) Other retailers have built stronger brand value through their focus. I know what I expect when someone tells me a retailer is an L.L. Bean or a Tiffany's. But it takes that kind of imagery to have brand leverage and most U.S. retailers simply don't have it.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2017

    Will blending online/offline roles improve the Walmart customer experience?

    Well, darn. I have to agree with you again Ryan. (I'm not going to read the AI thread today for fear you will already have posted there as well. And since I have now exhausted my supply of simulated swear words, I may be forced to use vulgarity with veracity if I have to agree with you again today!)
  • Posted on: 01/16/2017

    NRF and 21 retailers launch career training initiative

    Well, darn. When I read Ryan's headline blurb I thought I was going to get a rare opportunity to disagree with the person I most enjoy agreeing with. But it turns out we do agree -- sort of anyway.The part-time entry level model doesn't necessarily doom retailers to a shallow pool of managers. There are far more entry-level jobs in retail (at least for now) than there will ever be people interested in retail as a career. For most young people, retail is a way to pay for getting somewhere else. And that's just fine. But for those who either enter interested in a retail career (few) and those who might become interested over time (hopefully more), training is one of the most positive reinforcements retailers can offer to keep them on the track. This is a good idea.One caveat: I have no idea what the expectation for the participation rate is, but anything even approaching 3 to 5 percent is probably a raving success.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2017

    Will Alexa become the voice of IoT?

    Leading your comment with NRF is spot-on, Cathy! The reason Alexa/Amazon will win the technological battle of IoT is because the IoT is not about technology. It is about easier ways to get stuff -- and to get stuff done! To those who argue the power of Google and "search," consider this -- outside the work or academic environments, what is the most common thing "searched?" Stuff to buy! (Or maybe music -- just on sheer volume of requests -- but Alexa has that covered.)I'm not so sure the privacy concerns are that great but that's just an opinion. Though I will point out that it is the opinion of a conservative Boomer with a self-professed "you leave me alone and I'll leave you alone" attitude toward life. But I also admit that I am a (somewhat conflicted) unabashed fan of IoT in general and Alexa in particular. We are probably more careful than most about privacy in our house. So if we can get over those hurdles I believe most can.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2017

    How will Walgreens benefit from its FedEx drop-off/pickup deal?

    This is a very smart move for FedEx. They are leapfrogging Amazon in setting up lockers in retail outlets. I look for this to be one of Amazon's main ways of disintermediating their current third-party shippers. What Walgreens may not have anticipated is the operational complexity in the stores. Unless this is "self-serve lockers" they are going to find themselves with a handful in staffing this new service.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2017

    Amazon offers yet more perks for Prime members with a cash-back card

    I see more benefits for Amazon than for Prime members. 5 percent cash back has been available on Amazon purchases for Prime members through the Amazon store card for quite some time. This is more of a play for Amazon to earn exchange fee royalties on the external purchases on the Amazon branded card than anything else. 2 percent cash back on gas is not really that competitive in today's no-fee cash back credit card market. I'm sure they will get plenty of takers for the Amazon Prime membership list. But this is really nothing all that new.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2017

    Are reports on the death of newspapers greatly exaggerated?

    Yeah, Lee. I questioned those numbers too. Of course, you deal in design and I deal in deception by decimal point -- so I cruised over to Wikipedia and found some data from the Brookings Institute that shows newsprint circulation in the U.S. now reaches only 15 percent of the U.S. population versus the 35 percent it once reached (in the 1940s). So the "only down 2.5 percent from 2015" is off an already decimated base.The other thing that struck me as odd is the percent of readership reported by print-only (51 percent) vs. print + digital. If we generously use that statistic to double the Brookings Institute's 15 percent for print reach (which is most likely a substantial double-counting) we still only get to 30 percent of the total U.S. population who sees any newspaper in either print or digital. Not quite the 56 percent cited extrapolated from the Nielsen Scarborough numbers. There was no data on this, but I strongly suspect that much of the digital readership is of selected articles which appear in newsfeeds.To be clear, I'm not cheering for the death of the print newspaper -- nor its ad revenue. In fact, I was a daily subscriber of the print edition of my metro paper right up until the day the editorial page editor was named the editor of the paper -- and the entire paper became an editorial. But that's a different issue.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2017

    Amazon, Hy-Vee and Safeway among retailers in USDA online food stamp test

    To the extent that this provides access to decent food for SNAP recipients who otherwise can't get it -- that's a plus. But if those are the beneficiaries, it seems incongruous to make online order and delivery available and then not cover the delivery charges. Instead the program implies "you can do this -- but we're not going to pay for it for you." That makes it appear that the program is really aimed at extending the convenience of online/delivery to SNAP purchases -- not facilitating new access.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2017

    Do healthy foods have a price perception issue?

    I would offer a slight amendment to your thesis -- "marketed as healthy = expensive." This perception will put a cap on natural and organic sales for a while. I know I consciously avoid the "organic" label in the produce section and go looking specifically for the "regular stuff." I don't even bother to compare prices any more.Whole Foods does own a bit of this. They pioneered the segment and, in fairness, often did provide a higher quality product that justified higher prices -- even if "healthier" wasn't a legitimate part of that justification. They found a horse that worked and they rode it.But what blew things up in this gravy train was the traditional grocer and even the big box grocers who understandably wanted to juice their margins, particularly in meat and produce, with the "healthy" label. Eventually the real (lack of) difference in the nutritional value of most of the "all natural" and "organic" foods came to light. And consumer skepticism grew just a little bit more.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2017

    What will the sale of Craftsman mean for Sears and Stanley Black & Decker?

    Am I the only one old enough to remember when A&P sold off the Eight O'Clock Coffee brand? That certainly foretold the last gasp of that chain. Note I said "last gasp," not the death. That's because we could see the death coming long before that.Will this be the same for Sears? Probably.Having said that, is this a good idea? Again, probably. We actually evaluated the "license or distribute" model for another major tool retailer with a strong brand over a decade ago. The strategic pitfall is the inability to separate the brand from the retail brand identity."If it's Craftsman I must be at Sears."Or: "If it's not at Sears then it can't really be Craftsman."Or: "If Sears made Craftsman tools so great, then Craftsman tools at (Retailer of your choice) can't be as good."So selling the brand is the only real choice.Somebody just play Taps and let's get this over with.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2017

    RetailWire’s top five discussions of 2016 – What will top the list in 2017?

    This is a really tough question and it has taken me way too long to wrestle my thoughts on it — but here goes.First, Amazon is part of the equation for sure. But just saying "Amazon" seems too generic. (Starting to sound a bit generic, like "Borked" which we may well hear again this year. Though the thought of saying one has been "Amazoned" is intriguing. "What happened to Sears?""They got Amazoned!"Hmmm.....But my bet will go on the IoT. I think we will be talking more about how we interact with Amazon (or other digitally connected retailers who can outfox them on this one) than about the company itself. Consider that the primary competitive strength of Amazon is that it has provided the easiest and most user-friendly access to online retail for consumers — much like AOL provided the entry level access to the internet that many of us needed to catch on. What might disrupt that? Well, perhaps if my new washing machine is hard-wired to automatically order Tide from P&G directly, rather than my having to push a DASH button or whisper sweet nothings to Alexa about my shopping list, maybe then I wouldn't care if it was coming from Amazon or not. I'm not sure that incremental convenience will trump Prime discounts, rewards and free shipping. But it might. At least, for some of the people some of the time?Just one (probably lame) example of things to come in 2017.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2017

    Are convenience stores in for a big year in 2017?

    C-stores are definitely on-trend, increasingly relevant and improving their core offerings (including food service). This all has to bode well for the segment in 2017.But I think the biggest opportunity on the horizon for c-stores is a combination of increased consumer satisfaction and an answer to their labor concerns. It all starts with some scaled-down version of the virtual transaction concept of Amazon Go. Costs will come down and functionality will be scaled back to the ones consumers value most. All that will lead to increased accessibility to the technology for c-store operators and, more importantly, increased "convenience" for consumers in the c-store experience.The second benefit is what operators can do with the labor hours freed up -- and that is to apply them to food service. Beyond that operators could add additional service categories. Why shouldn't there be a Verizon Store in the c-store? Or a UPS Store? There will most likely be Amazon drop lockers there soon anyway. Time to get creative!
  • Posted on: 12/30/2016

    Amazon considers floating warehouses

    With some trepidation, and apparently out of step with my commentating cohorts here on RetailWire, I will take exception with Tom Ryan's characterization of this idea as "sci-fi."Let's look at the recent history. How do we refuel long range bombers? In flight.How do we replenish the space station? In flight.Why the heck couldn't we apply the same principles to inventory deployment? And doesn't this idea embody best practices in inventory management? Flexible inventory that can easily be positioned near the need at little to no incremental cost. And what about eliminating the large carbon footprint our current distribution system lays down? Isn't that a good idea?Time to look forward to the New Year folks! (Or maybe the next decade ... )

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