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: 08/15/2017

    Will Timberland climb to greater heights behind new experiential concept?

    As a long time Timberland customer I have always thought of the brand as "experiential" -- sort of an L.L. Bean meets Indiana Jones experiential. Perhaps Timberland will use this concept to determine which sorts of experiences resonate with consumers and can fit under the Timberland umbrella. It seems to me that many of these flagship experiential stores are really being used as retail learning labs. That could have a very rewarding ROI indeed for retailers who are able to incorporate and extend the learning to their core positioning.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    How should vendors respond to Walmart’s reluctance to raise prices?

    There is one thing about the whole pricing argument that puzzles me. If the issue for Walmart is "maintaining pricing relative to other retailers" then a blanket increase of equal magnitude for all customers from a vendor should not disrupt that status quo. That assumes that all retailers will maintain their current margins on the vendors' new list price of course -- but if all grocery retailers are working as close to the bone as they claim on margin it seems logical that they would.Perhaps vendors should not start their pricing discussions with Walmart, but end them there instead. Unless they fear that Walmart would try to gain even more advantage against the market by still refusing the price increase ...
  • Posted on: 08/14/2017

    Does the internet know us better than we know ourselves?

    The fundamental premise of the Wharton assertions are undeniable. Tracking actual consumer behavior -- traditionally expressed in purchase data -- has been considered more reliable than the reported behavior based on recollection or statement of intention captured in surveys and focus groups by most researchers for some time. The twist is that clicks now constitute actual consumer behavior, and clicks are much more readily tracked at the individual consumer level than in-store purchases. The ability to easily link those clicks to other consumer characteristics via online behavior opens up a vista of consumer insight we could only imagine and strive for (at great expense) 20 years ago.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2017

    Will Aldi upset the grocery home delivery cart?

    For some reason, the mention of Aldi and home delivery struck a discordant note with me from the moment I saw the headline. The core positioning of a "hard discounter" and the ultimate service of home delivery seem to be in direct conflict. It strikes me as Sam Walton driving around Bentonville in a luxury Cadillac SUV instead of an old pickup. The problem with my knee jerk reaction, of course, is that it isn't based on any knowledge of how Aldi shoppers will perceive this offering. Many of the Aldi shoppers in our Chicago suburb neighborhood lived in million dollar homes and did most of their shopping at Mariano's and Trader Joe's -- but they still loved Aldi and bragged of their bargain finds of high quality foods. Would they welcome Aldi home delivery? Or will it destroy the mystique of the "hard way"?
  • Posted on: 08/10/2017

    Is it time to reinvent category management?

    Category management started out as "consumer-based" merchandising (we didn't say "shopper" back then). What sent it off the rails is simply that we ignored the consumer part of the process because it was too cumbersome, too amorphous and we had too little actionable data. So category management became a template-driven real estate grab (if you are a manufacturer) or a template-driven assortment optimization tool (only one step above the old "spin reports" if you are a retailer). All this discussion of reinvention and 2.0 sounds like returning to the original premise to some of us original believers.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2017

    Do Amazon Marketplace sellers need outside help?

    If you are not familiar with Amazon's systems, having someone who is definitely familiar with them helps. This is especially true for small vendors. However, senior Amazon executives have suggested that they will want to deal directly with major manufacturers, no different than the large brick-and-mortar retailers do.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2017

    Is an urban revival a sign of hope for indie grocers?

    D.C. is demographically unique in many ways, so it is hard to project trends there onto the U.S. However, urban populations are generally exposed to more choice -- which makes them look even harder for the next unique thing. Indie grocers are one step up the grocery chain from the "butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker" -- the staples of every turn-of-the-century "High Street" in Europe. Specialization was and is more convenient for shoppers in urban areas, and that makes it appealing.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2017

    Is Wayfair Amazon-proof?

    Wayfair has developed a following based on selection, price and availability. When furniture shopping takes on a sense of urgency -- ala a recent move -- the furniture stores are only truly helpful if they have exactly what you want in stock, a rare occurrence. Wayfair has the advantage of centrally-warehoused stock that all online retailers enjoy. But they also have inventory depth and fast shipping.After a frustrating day of "almost but not quite" in the local furniture stores, my wife recently came home and jumped on Wayfair because my kids had told her about it. The items she wanted were shipped the next morning. All that won't make Wayfair impervious to Amazon but it has an established position in shoppers' minds that I think will last.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2017

    Why is big food turning to pop-up stores to tell brand stories?

    Pop-ups allow a more complete brand story to be told than a display in-aisle ever can. They also scream "current and relevant" to shoppers who expect brands to show more spunk than just sitting on the shelf waiting to be part of the "routine shopping trip." It can't hurt. It also can't save failing brands -- but it can be a positive for strong ones.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2017

    Does Dunkin’ need donuts?

    Kentucky Fried Chicken tried this tack with KFC. It has taken about six years for that to start to work -- though the blame for that lies more with the operations than the brand name. Dunkin' is already an established colloquial moniker for Dunkin' Donuts. Embracing it should do no harm. Even McDonald's has grudgingly embraced "Mickey D's" to some small extent. What will do the franchise damage is to focus totally on beverages. Even Dunkin' still implies that there is something available to dunk.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2017

    Should executive pay structures change to address slower growth at retail?

    Base pay doesn't need to change. The job has not changed -- if anything it is harder. What needs to change is the measures incentive pay is based on. If same-store sales are not what is driving growth and profit these days, then find the right measures that do and switch the incentive program to be based on those. Then if the performance doesn't come -- the incentive pay shouldn't come.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2017

    Will Lidl’s fresh approach to the U.S. grocery market prove successful?

    I generally agree with your points David. But I think Lidl may have a better edge in the U.S. market than Aldi. The relative emphasis on fresh and quality versus price and own label for Lidl just might be enough to turn U.S. shopper's heads more often. Particularly with the convenient size. I think their ultimate fate may rest on the quality of their locations.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2017

    Will Lidl’s fresh approach to the U.S. grocery market prove successful?

    "New" is wonderful (and certainly better than "new and improved"!) but I always thought "Free" was the most powerful word in marketing....
  • Posted on: 08/04/2017

    Are the four Ps of marketing irrelevant for retailers?

    Like most declarations of fundamentals being "dead," this one is overwrought. I get Chris's points and agree with them -- no issue there. But it is more instructive to think of the Four Ps as living principles that must adapt in execution to new circumstances and tools. "Product" is now "whatever I want." "Place" is "wherever I am and can get it when I want it," etc. Adapting to change is mandatory -- but abandoning the core guarantees will mean that the new direction and initiatives will implode into an ill-maintained foundation.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2017

    Did Amazon just send Sears a life line with their Kenmore deal?

    Sears signaled their strategy to act as "brand marketers" when they set up Park's division with their three strongest consumer franchises under it: Craftsman; DieHard and Kenmore. The Craftsman brand has gotten the most retail expansion action to date -- but most of that has been brick-and-mortar alliances such as Ace Hardware. Pretty standard stuff. But this link to Amazon carries incremental advantage by adding the smart home link to Alexa. The downside is that Amazon has never shown any tendency to create brand exclusive alliances for its technology. Other appliance brands will be sporting Alexa connectivity as well. Any competitive advantage Kenmore gains with Kenmore Smart and Amazon distribution will quickly disappear.

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