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: 02/11/2019

    Are apps and voice assistants the keys to e-grocery adoption?

    When I tell my wife "I need shampoo" she responds "what are you telling me for? Tell Alexa." The great opportunity for grocery retailers is to link their order apps to popular voice assistants. If all we had to do is say "Alexa, place my order" for retailers other than Amazon -- one of our local choices (Publix, Kroger, Walmart) would increase our customer loyalty to at least 80 percent and probably higher.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2019

    J.C. Penney dumps appliances

    This move demonstrates two important points. First, as leaders -- be it retail or any other organization -- we have a strong bias to return to what we know best and what has been successful for us before. Mr. Ellison knows hard goods. Ms. Soltau knows soft goods. With regard to the future of J.C. Penney under Ms. Soltau, a similar bias among shoppers may play in her favor. I never thought of buying appliances at J.C. Penney -- and I never thought of buying clothes at Sears. On a related note, I walked into a Lowe's store yesterday and had a somewhat unnerving experience. They had zero-turn mowers parked on the apron at the entrance (yes, it's almost time to start mowing lawns here in Knoxville) and the front row was filled with bright red models bearing the Craftsman logo. Even though I'm well aware of Lowe's distribution deal for Craftsman as a student of retailing, it was still a shock as the man who trailed after his mom into Sears several times a week as a boy, and who grew up driving a Craftsman garden tractor because his dad would "only buy Craftsman son, Sears has the best tools."
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Walgreens tests tech that sort of recognizes you in-store

    First, I love innovation in retail. But on this attempt I expect an epic fail. Shoppers are not looking for more intrusive interruptions to a seamless shopping experience. And the shopper looking at the cooler in a drug store is probably a frequent customer, primarily using the store as the nearest "convenience option" for their purchases. I don't think many Walgreens shoppers are going to be looking for help navigating the cooler. If the display offers immediate promotional pricing or some other offer that might help. But I can read the "Buy 2 for $5.00" signs in the current coolers just fine -- even at my age.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    Is trust the next omnichannel inflection point?

    The fundamental element of brand trust is, and has always been, consistent delivery of the product or service brand promise. But Nikki is right in that other elements of brand trust -- things like character and appearance and, yes, trust -- are harder to both establish and to judge in the digital world. In the good old days of physical retail these things were almost unconsciously assessed by shoppers as they interacted with the brand in its retail environment. Did it look stable, prosperous, clean and honest? Were the people representing the brand competent, engaging, perhaps even attractive? Could you count on good service and fair treatment if you had a problem? All of this was relatively transparent in person. It is much more difficult to judge online, so we substitute others' reports of their experience for our own experience, at least to begin with. But in the end, it all still comes back to consistently delivering on the promise.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2019

    Is experiential retail overhyped and misunderstood?

    Retail has mistakenly equated "experience" with entertainment. (We even phrased it "retailtainment" for a while.) They are not the same. Entertainment is temporal and wonderful when sampled occasionally. We satisfy our need to be entertained frequently with variety. The experience we need to deliver at retail is more consistent, more product focused and more service oriented. For a great example, see L.L. Bean in the 1990s.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2019

    Amazon takes multi-pronged approach to owning the last mile

    Simple. Amazon "buys" the USPS and then innovates mail delivery in an efficient way, acquiring the last-mile delivery capability for its packages as well of course.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2019

    Will a different kind of ‘innovation hub’ open the future to food growth opportunities?

    The Mondelēz approach to innovation centers looks more like the model found in technology companies or large scale solutions providers like IBM or Accenture. That same model is successfully used by base materials suppliers like Corning Glass to work with resellers to develop new uses for their core technology. Innovation centers in CPGs have often drifted toward industry knowledge centers for retailers and creative spaces for customer meetings. Perhaps this approach from Mondelēz will avoid that tendency and yield innovative new products instead.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2019

    NRF: Attendees show performance anxiety for 2019

    Historical analysis of economic "shutdowns" (a misnomer in and of itself) shows the annualized economic impact to be something like .000X. It's essentially a non-event. Trade wars can be different -- if we were really in one -- but what the administration has engaged in is perhaps better characterized as a series of trade chess matches or shouting matches -- take your pick or choose "all of the above". Economies are cyclical, not because they have to be, but because we collectively psych ourselves into them. The 24 nanosecond news cycle of the day certainly hasn't helped that any. In short, we are human and we just can't help ourselves...
  • Posted on: 01/16/2019

    NRF: Will success in mobile shopping depend on progressive web apps?

    Since I am only vaguely conversant in the difference between a PWA and TWA (I know one is out of business) I won't speak to whether PWAs are the solution to this problem -- but the problem is very real. We only need look at our own experiences with mobile shopping to realize how intolerant of delays we have become. What is days in the delivery experience for online shopping is nanoseconds in the UX for mobile shopping.
  • Posted on: 12/26/2018

    Delivery drivers land on Santa’s Nice List

    One of the tenets set down by the founders of the Mars companies that I remember best is (or was) "we do only what we do best." Smart retailers will concentrate on doing only what they do best -- that special "something" that adds meaningful value to their business proposition. Last-mile delivery is rarely one of those things.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2018

    Will the maker movement inspire a new creative direction for malls?

    I hear you on "maker" versus "crafter" Georgeanne. Reminds me of a Quixotic tilt I went on some years back to get people to refer to "Proprietary Brands" instead of Private Label. It does seem that a broader spectrum of entrepreneurs are adopting "maker" however. For example, my nephew's company has pioneered 360 data visualization for a number of applications -- their passion being education. Their biggest clients are NASA (JPL) and NOA. But when he showed me the new 3D printer he and his son are using to print the prototype parts for their latest patent application -- the younger referred to themselves as "makers." I doubt anyone would refer to what they do as a "craft." Of course, none of this changes the discussion as it pertains to today's RW discussion. It's just interesting to me to watch how the lexicon evolves.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2018

    Will the maker movement inspire a new creative direction for malls?

    The biggest issue for "makers" (which we used to simply call "crafters") has always been access and visibility to buyers. The concept of a centralized display location has successfully met that need for centuries -- ranging from the medieval bazaar to the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, NC today. But it is a store or two in a larger retail concept, not the salvation of malls in America.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2018

    Should Amazon buy Target?

    The analysis makes sense, but it has one big assumption that I question. Namely, does Amazon think it needs a physical retail presence beyond the fresh food category? That consumers aren't enthusiastic about buying fresh food from a brown box on their doorstep has been made woefully obvious by the success of click and collect. But do they need the same for women's apparel? I think not. Mr. Munster makes another point that I personally think is more interesting -- Amazon's strength is logistics, so here's a take-over idea in a different vein. Why doesn't Amazon take over the USPS? Strike a deal that saves the service but relieves the new venture of the pension commitments that are strangling it going forward. Of course, the U.S. taxpayer will still have to sort out the current mess. Sort of a GM bail-out in reverse. Amazon gets to own the last mile, the U.S. gets a more efficient mail service and USPS employees get an employer that is viable long term. The idea won't be popular in certain quarters -- no doubt about that -- but it could work.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2018

    Will Walgreens win the prescription delivery race?

    If I am sick, the last thing I want to do is wait 24 hours to get my drugs. My "maintenance" med subscriptions are all on pre-scheduled home delivery and the provider is prescribed by an alliance — CVS need not apply if you are on BC/BS! You use WAG or pay retail. When these two categories are excluded, I'm not sure how much prescription volume is left to benefit from next day delivery. This seems more of a perceptual compensation (who wants to wait more than 24 hours for anything these days — so 2015!) than meeting a real consumer need.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2018

    Enjoy Life connects with consumers ‘one-to-one’

    Certainly no argument with any of Mr. Warady's marketing principles. But "one-on-one" marketing needs a "single thing or need" to concentrate on to be enough to carry the primary marketing load. The allergy-specific need and the food based product line is broad enough to make a decent market, yet specific enough that sufferers can be isolated and you know they will be receptive to the message. People with allergies gotta eat too!

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