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: 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 Jet.com 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."
  • Posted on: 05/11/2017

    Is marketing research suffering from an identity crisis?

    Legacy research departments, techniques and companies are a little bit like legacy IT systems -- they are always a hindrance to change. Social media and open architecture coding made legacy IT systems change, but only when the money moved. The same is true with research (and "legacy" anything -- to be fair.)Market research was to provide "answers" when I was a brand manager. General Mills had several very cleverly devised testing protocols that were designed to ensure that maverick young brand managers couldn't run big brands like Betty Crocker and Cheerios off the rails. We could do anything we wanted to in development or creative -- but it had to "beat current among current users" in our standard testing to be approved and implemented. Smart, eh?When we figured out that research really gave "direction" rather than answers, some of the ruling authority cachet wore off. But it was still the standard for "real marketers." And "real research companies" didn't do that loosey-goosey in-store stuff or "shop-alongs" or any of that. No way. Matched panel testing or die!That's how our company came to design and manage our own research projects. We always said we didn't go to research -- research fell to us because traditional houses didn't know the right questions to ask nor the techniques to use to learn that "shopper stuff." Until the budgets began to move. Whoa! Did the big departments and research houses ever change then! Suddenly it became imperative to "introduce real research rigor" into the in-store/shopper insights work. It was really pretty funny to watch.And now we go to "insights." Well, at least we have the objective right finally.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2017

    Should one rough quarter have Publix’s management concerned?

    Down .4% in an industry that just reported center store sales down around -2.5% in units for Q1 -- I don't think that's a panic button moment, folks. Many/most of the retailers across the spectrum -- ranging from O'Reilly's to Starbucks -- are reporting same store sales lower for Q1 of 2017. And GDP just came in at 0.7%. I'm not saying Publix management deserves a lollipop, primarily for reasons such as those Paula called out above -- but this particular figure is no death knell in this environment.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Can tailored digital video messaging transform grocery end-caps?

    It is going to be very hard to separate the impact of the personalized messaging from the "wow factor" of the display vehicle itself for the first several months at least. For now, Coke certainly has first-mover advantage in the stores with this type of display. That advantage may well be extended by the sheer volume and value of their category and brand. The advantage will only be available to smaller categories and brands when the retailer has permanent installations that can be rented on a promotional basis. The biggest question in my mind is, what will happen to the effectiveness as the technology becomes commonplace? If it ever does?
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    How will Walmart’s price cutting affect Kroger and other rivals?

    If this continues, and I believe it will, get ready for zero growth in both units AND dollars in the grocery industry for the foreseeable future. Industry forecasts are already pretty unanimous in calling for flat unit growth and nominal dollar growth equal to pricing -- roughly 2 percent to 2.5 percent.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2017

    Will Amazon’s on-demand manufacturing create trouble for fast-fashion?

    Spot on analysis, Tony! Bezos's original model focused on efficient disruption of fulfilling routine consumer needs with more convenient, and usually cheaper, options. That Amazon has that down pat is not in question. The subtle shift I have seen from Amazon in the last few years is that they now seem to have at least a "sub-strategy" of looking for categories where the margins are so great that they can work their disruption magic at a profit. That doesn't mean Bezos will stop investing most of those profits in moon shots -- he won't. But it does mean he will be able to keep stockholders a little happier with increasing profitability to go with meteoric growth and unparalleled innovation.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2017

    Can SpartanNash use BOPIS to take personalization to the next level?

    I got booed out of the gym (or off the discussion board) the last time I said this -- but I'm gonna say it again. If the SpartanNash definition of BOPIS is literally "pick up in store" this will only be marginally successful. The biggest hassle shoppers are trying to avoid with online ordering and collection is going into the store in the first place. If SpartanNash solves that with curbside delivery of the order to the shopper's car -- preferably waiting for them when their mobile app pings the store that they are 5 minutes away, fresh from the refrigerated/frozen holding area where it was placed after picking -- then they have something.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2017

    BrainTrust throwdown: Is it inevitable that tech companies will dominate retail?

    Wow! Looks like everyone wanted in on this one! Great idea, arguments and comments -- kudo's all 'round!Here's the thing that struck me. "The future belongs to retailers that can exploit technology, not the other way around." I completely agree with that statement. But within it lies the great danger, the implication being that pure play "e-tailers" aren't real "retailers." I doubt that Ryan actually meant it that way. Or perhaps it was included as part of his "assigned position." (My favorite National Forensics League event was Extemporaneous Argument -- no one here surprised by that I suppose ... ha!)But I think the comment does give voice to a grave misconception running through our industry, analogous to the thinking that led us to call retailer owned brands "private label" instead of the more appropriate "proprietary brands." We didn't want to think of those retailers as true brand owners like the manufacturers and we were wrong. We are equally wrong not to think of online retailers as "true retailers."
  • Posted on: 04/04/2017

    Why haven’t customer surveys gone mobile?

    Ironically, I drove to work this morning listening to my co-worker/wife answering a pretty intricate survey on her smartphone. She completed it using voice recognition. And the survey was about Alexa and her proficiency at voice recognition and giving actionable answers. Since this is a subject of interest to her, my wife was willing to commit around 10 minutes to the survey.The actionable takeaway from my parable is that consumers devote time and effort to giving feedback to brands in equal measure to the involvement they have with the product and the utility they derive from it. The same person who will spend 10 minutes engaged with a mobile phone to "help Alexa learn" wouldn't spend 10 seconds on any device to answer a survey about land line phone service.Even if the target respondent is engaged with the brand at some level, the length and frequency of the request for feedback has to fit the depth of that relationship. A one-answer survey that pops up on my phone every time I leave Starbucks ("Did you enjoy your visit today? Yes or no.") will get a high response rate. An invitation to go online and take a 20-minute survey at the bottom of my Kroger receipt will be roundly ignored.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2017

    Is social media influence the new key to building brand loyalty?

    I didn't even bother to read the article on this one, so my apologies to Mr. Alaimo. But I didn't have to in order to answer the question posed. At least, the one posed by the headline.No. Word of mouth from trusted influencers is still the key to building brand trial and, combined with delivering the brand promise, the key to brand loyalty as well. Social media is just the new forum for word of mouth. Maybe we could call it "word of text" or "word of Twitter" -- but it's still the same old thing.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2017

    Is ‘wantedness’ something that marketers need?

    Good grief. Our propensity for dreaming up new ways to express constant truisms will never cease to amaze. We started out with "high touch -- low touch" and have evolved to "wantedness." It's still all about brands that deliver their promise and retailers that deliver great customer service and meet shopper needs for a segment better than anyone else geographically accessible to that shopper which, with online shopping, means anywhere in the world.

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